Sunday, May 29, 2011

Graphics from the Deep: Submarine Insignia by Ray Young

U.S.S. Loggerhead

Believe me, I wasn’t looking for submarine insignia, when I came across this torpedo-toting loggerhead turtle. But when I saw him in his teeny tiny sailor hat at the University of Wisconsin (Wisconsin Maritime Museum) digital archive, I knew I was meant to post it. Not only is it Memorial Day weekend, it is also Fleet Week in New York and there are sailors everywhere.

The menacing loggerhead was one of 14 submarine insignia designed by Ray Young, a product designer at the Manitowoc Shipbuilding Company. Manitowoc built 28 submarines during WWII, the last 10 of which had emblems designed by Young. Due to the stealth nature of submarines, a logo is not displayed on the vessel itself, but it is printed on stationery, made into jacket patches, mess hall items, and home-port flags.

Young’s illustration talents were discovered during an in-house “bake-off,” to design the emblem for U.S.S. Kete. His piece, a fish blowing a torpedo from its mouth, was a huge hit and once other commanders saw it, he was flooded with logo requests. “I knocked out an insignia every month,” Young said in an interview with the Herald Times Reporter.

Young also designed four insignia for subs from the Electric Boat Company of Groton, Connecticut.

U.S.S. Kete

U.S.S. Kraken
This insignia for the U.S.S. Kraken earned the
distinction of “most outstanding sub insignia in World War II.”

U.S.S. Macbai

U.S.S. Menhaden

U.S.S. Lagarto commissioning party invitation

U.S.S. Corsair

U.S.S. Halfbeak

Thursday, May 26, 2011

A Checkered Past: Indy 500 Program Covers

This 1981 cover featuring the top of the Borg-Warner trophy was the first to use an actual photograph.

The centennial of the Indianapolis 500 is only days away. So while you’re resting up for all that Snake Pit revelry, here’s a selection of official programs from over the years. The National Indy 500 Collector Club has every program with details going back to the Speedway’s pre- 500 races including the first race in 1909, which was a balloon race.

The programs parallel magazine trends, including book thickness and styles of cover design. There are the Art Deco illustrations of the 1930s, those illustrated montages from the 1980s, foldouts, and the requisite hologram cover. The program prices, which are prominently displayed on the covers through 2000, climb through the years from ten cents on up!

Upper left, program from the first 500 in 1911. Upper right, 2001 hologram-cover. At bottom is a foldout from 2009 by the renowned artist Thomas Kinkade.

Most of these are on eBay right now, where prices can go as high as $250.

In celebration of the Allied victory in WWI, the
race was renamed the "Liberty Sweep Stakes."








From 1955 through 1975, this program cover ran
for all but two years.







One of three covers for this year’s race.

Sunday, May 22, 2011

Ryoji Ikeda: Data Jockey

Once again, the Park Avenue Armory makes the most of its vast drill hall for a commissioned work of art. In ‘Transfinite,’ Japanese artist Ryoji Ikeda programs data from sources such as NASA and the Human Genome Project to create a mesmerizing, immersive, “visual and sonic environment …” Hey isn’t that what they used to call a sound & light show? Read more here.

The black, white, and gray of the Ikeda installation felt even more stark to me, having come directly from a very lively and colorful kids’ art show.
'French Toast' was one of the visual-pun sculptures fifth graders created.

Fourth graders all made collage self portraits
ala Stephen Kroninger.

There was a ‘sonic’ element to this art show too. I got to hear the school band perform a few numbers. They did an excellent rendition of Mercy, Mercy, Mercy. (Link is for the Cannonball Adderley original.)

Thursday, May 19, 2011

Aspects of New York City: Vintage Posters

These fantastic posters, were given to the City of New York by the Container Corporation of America. The New York Times reported On April 24, 1969, that the first 10 of a planned total of 50 were presented at a ceremony in City Hall. They were to be displayed in public places throughout the city including subway platforms and community clubs.

I was able to track down nine of the first ten, and have no idea if the other 40 were ever produced. The series, titled “Aspects of New York City ,” is in the collection of MoMA, but not viewable online. Posters Please has, has most of these for sale.
They may not all be masterpieces, but I think quite a few are total knockouts. And although the nine posters make for a very nice grid, I’m still (as they might say at the Minyan) looking for the tenth.

Harlem, New York 125th Street
Peter Teubner

Peter Teubner

Wall St.
Tomoko Miho

65 Bridges to New York
Tomoko Miho

Metropolitan Museum
Peter Teubner

United Nations
Peter Teubner

Lincoln Center
Giulio Cittato

Tomoko Miho

Empire City/Empire State
Tomoko Miho

Tuesday, May 17, 2011

Brimfield Blues

I have to believe that at some point during the Brimfield antique show's 50-year history, some dejected dealer, picking away at an unsold Gibson, came up with the Brimfield Blues. I’m imagining that it was in the 95-degree heat of July, or a solid week of rain. One thing I can say for sure, though, is that it was not written nor sung this year. I’ve never seen a happier bunch of dealers than the vendors at Brimfield last week. I’d say the report on sales ranged from happy to delirious. That’s how good business was—even after one day. I’m sure there’s a economic indicator in there somewhere …

But back to blue. My first treat of the day was waiting for me in the bushes right outside the front door. Four exquisite robin’s eggs, in an expertly crafted nest. Consummate perfection is definitely a good way to start the day.

We stopped at the Sturbridge Coffee House for refueling, and were greeted by this fabulous Plymouth Fury parked right in front. By the way they have very delicious muffin tops and a sign at the counter poses the question, "What's Your Cup Size?"
It was when I watched Terry get out of the car in her cerulean parka, that I realized there was a definite blue thing going on.
Here’s how the theme played out the rest of the day…

Roof level of a multistory toy parking garage

Aren’t these incredible? They were rescued from an old house in Massachusetts and were at the same Antique Therapy booth I wrote about the other day. So far, I haven’t been able to find anything about the Armand Art Studio of Detroit.

Blue eyeshadow--just the right accent for a pink cat. Don't you think?

Artist, Terry Rosen, was scouring Brimfield for vintage New England ephemera. When she hunts, she doesn’t just look on the tables, she looks under the tables. Which is a good thing because her eagle eye spotted this flea market equivalent of “today’s news, tomorrow’s fish wrap.”
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