Some Thiebaud you may not know

Sacramento-area artist Wayne Thiebaud is well known for his vibrant pop art and masterful landscape paintings. Sixty years ago, in 1951, Thiebaud held his first one-artist exhibition, "Influences on a Young Painter" at the Crocker Art Museum. Last fall, the Crocker featured him again in their inaugural re-opening. You may also recall I've mentioned him before in a previous post on mid-century modernists in Sacramento.

In the interest of educating people about mid-20th century art, architecture and design in the Sacramento region, I'm posting some examples of Thiebaud's works in other mediums.

First, a delightful kinetic water sculpture/installation in collaboration with Jerry McLaughlin from 1952 which was on display at the California State Fair. The installation was featured in the prestigious Arts & Architecture magazine in November 1952:
"This fountain which was done as a part of the Art Exhibit at the California State Fair is an amusing and often rather wild composition in moving water. While its several parts are in motion there is a constantly maintained interest, and within the interplay dazzling confusion becomes part of a very engaging pattern and texture. The devices which are ingenious in material and form take on a lively life and vitality under the compelling movement of the water. The variety and the unexpectedness of the activity, the sometimes frantic, sometimes serene water in motion is fresh and cool and stimulating.

Thiebaud and McLaughlin have freely and playfully used the propelling water itself to move the objects, and in turn this movement within the water creates a beautiful and sometimes hilarious experience."
Next, a series of art education films featuring Mr. Stubby Pencil. These circa 1955 films featured animation by Wayne Thiebaud, Patty Thiebaud and Pat Dullanty. The Academic Film Archive of North America apparently has a copy of one of a handful of short films that they produced.

The 16 millimeter films, made over hundreds of hours in the Thiebaud's basement on Portola Way, were produced by Bailey Films, Inc. of Hollywood. Two of the films reportedly premiered in the Long Beach Film Festival. How I would love to see these films!

Finally, here is "Water City" -- a glass mosaic that wraps around the first level of the SMUD Headquarters Building in Sacramento. This piece was originally a serigraph in 1957 that served as a study for the Sacramento Municipal Water Utility Department (SMUD) mural (and a demonstration serigraph at the California State Fair). The SMUD Headquarters building, designed by Dreyfuss & Blackford, is on the National Register of Historic Places.

Hope you found these images of Thiebaud's lesser known works as interesting as I do! For more images, visit my Flickr set. I'll continue to add to the set as I come across other items.

Help save an iconic Neutra-designed home from demolition!

Hard to believe, but this historic and architecturally significant home is being threatened with demolition. Please take a few seconds of your time to sign a petition supporting the restoration and repurposing of this iconic home into the Neutra Library.

How you can help:
1) sign the petition here.
2) For further actions on how to help, stay tuned on the status of the home here.

 Time is of the essence; do your part and don't let the McMansions win!

Sacramento's sense of place

Can't wait to go to tonight's reception for Iconic Sacto with works by Andrew Patterson-Tutschka, Joe Santos, and Tom Spaulding.

The reception is at the SMUD Art Gallery from 4-6pm today, but you can still check out the show through October 8th.

The show celebrates Sacramento's unique sense of place through its built environment and signage. Per the Sacramento Metropolitan Arts Commission, the show:
"... features depictions of the essential Sacramento locations which shape our region's identity and history, and create a sense of place. From Spaulding's striking photographs of historic buildings and picturesque central valley locales, to Santos' arresting watercolors of neon signage, to Patterson-Tutschka's masterful plein air depictions of Sacramento street life and private interiors. ICONIC SACTO represents Sacramento from all sides reinforcing why this region holds such a unique appeal."
Here's a little bit more about the show and the artists.

I would like to see more efforts made to preserve our vintage signage, which is so important to Sacramento's identity. Some towns (I'm looking at you, West Sacramento) have even gone as far as wiping them out on purpose.

Thank goodness for these wonderful artists who are documenting our past before it is demolished. Let's go farther and preserve it, lest we wish to become McCity, Anywheresville.

Walking the walk... and talking the talk!

Big day this Sunday, 9.18.11!

From about 10am to 3pm SacMod will be at Marshall Park (corner of 27th and J Street) for the street fair for Sacramento Old City Association's 36th Annual Home Tour. We'll be handing out SacMod's free self-guided walking tour which features the exteriors of six commercial mid-20th century buildings in Midtown. Come and support SOCA, who has been a huge supporter of MCM in Sacramento (see my previous post for details).

Tomorrow will also be the first day SacMod will be offering annual associate memberships at a one-time special discount. Stop by for details!

Later that same day at 7pm, come see the presentation on "Sacramento Architecture: From the Gold Rush to Mid-Century Modern." My friend and historian, Bill Burg, will be talking about the Gold Rush through the 1930s; I'll be handling the part about mid-20th century architecture in town. The discussion will be at Time Tested Books and is part of the Living Library Series.

Hope to see you tomorrow, one way or the other! We'll be the ones drinking lots of coffee :)

Free self-guided walking tour of six Midtown MCMs on September 18, 2011!

Come say hello to SacMod at Marshall Park (J and 27th Streets) on September 18, 2011 during the street fair for Sacramento Old City Association's 36th Annual Home Tour.

You know what makes for a great day? Seeing the beautiful historic homes on SOCA's tour and learning about six Midtown MCM buildings that you walk past all the time!

SOCA's tour starts at Marshall Park, at the corner of 27th and J Street. A street fair at the park features local contractors and artisans specializing in historic home rehab and remodeling, local businesses, artists and crafters displaying their wares, local nonprofits, advocacy and history organizations. Local musicians Tender Cinders, Garage Jazz Architects, The Freebadge Serenaders, and Emile Dalkey will perform in the park. Home Tour participants can show their tour wristband for a 15% discount in the restaurants of the nearby Sutter District.

SacMod will be at the fair from about 10am to 3pm and will have copies of our free self-guided walking tour which features the exteriors of six commercial mid-20th century buildings in Midtown.

Our friends at SOCA have been huge supporters of SacMod and MCM architecture in Sacramento. SOCA's efforts were instrumental in getting the SMUD Headquarters building nominated on the National Register of Historic Places.

MCM fans, it's our turn to support SOCA -- bring your walking shoes and see you there!

Tiki Tuesday! The Tropics: a 1940s Sacramento nightclub

I sure could go for a fruity drink right now! Just this last week I finished the narrative for SacMod's official 501(c)(3) status and wrote the guide for SacMod's free self-guided walking tour featuring six mid-century modern commercial buildings in Midtown.

I'm just stopping the old blogeroo to share some tiki goodness with you in a segment I'm calling "Tiki Tuesday." I'll be talking about other classic Sacramento tiki spots in future posts.

First stop: An oldie, but goodie. The Tropics. 1019 1/2 Jay Street, Sacramento, California.

Unfortunately, I don't know who these happy people are; I do so love the couple dancing in the background!

According to Billboard magazine (October 9, 1943, page 21), the success of the Tropics was in part due to a larger phenomenon: "Soldiers Bring Prosperity to Sacramento Spots; Acts Profit"
"Sacramento, Oct 2 -- With soldiers from three neighboring fields -- Camp Kohler, McClellan, and Mather Field -- virtually taking the town over after dark, Sacramento night spots are flourishing and multiplying.... Tropics upstairs night spot, which opened the first of the year has ... augmented the orchestra. Gabriel Silveira leads a five-piece combo. Spot is owned by Yubi Separovich and Frank Radich."
In his article regarding Zombie Hut (I've shared my research findings about the legendary Zombie Hut here, here and here), Valcom News reporter Lance Armstrong stated that the Tropics nightclub "advertised itself as the 'Pacific Coast's most beautiful nightclub' with 'dancing, entertainment and tropical drinks'."

If the name Yubi Separovich sounds familiar to you, here's why; Mr. Saparovich is credited with saving Sacramento baseball in 1943 through a heroic last-ditch effort. He worked feverishly to keep the Sacramento Solons in town and later became their general manager. At various points in time Mr. Saparovich owned several other businesses in Sacramento, including a liquor store, carpet store, grocery store and an industrial loan company.

In a toast to The Tropics and in honor of Mr. Separovich and Mr. Radich, here's a classic, old-school tiki cocktail recipe: The Mai Tai.

 Mai Tai photo and recipe via

Cheers, and, Aloha!