The idea isn’t exactly new. In writing about the Machine-Age Exposition at Steinway Hall on 57th street in 1926, the catalog essay states “There is a great new race of men in America: the Engineer. He has created a new mechanical world… It is inevitable and important to the civilization of today that he make a union with the architect and the artist.”
That’s about gets it right. We are after the celebration of the engineer, and the factories and the working industrial designs in America who made all the great products from the last century. Most of these could never be manufactured again. Iron tables, steel chairs ceramic ashtrays, elaborate beer signs, tin alarm clocks, solid table top phones, never! They would cost thousands in todays market. For example we got as a gift the phone made to look retro from Pottery Barn but it has push buttons instead of fingers that move the dial around like the old rotary’s. Surprise, broke right away. The old Bell Telephone product, which they rented to you not sold, could survive an atom bomb.
Industrial stuff was an early obsession. Heading down the Pacific Coast Highway glued to the window, backseat in my parents 1955 seafoam green Cadillac coupe de ville, the interest was not solely in the ocean view but also the old concrete block and big glass window buildings. These lurking structures sat glowing mellow lights in the dark nights of the then small towns from Santa Cruz to Huntington Beach. They once housed feed, grain, tractor and hardware stores and were filled at the time with the second wave of industry: surfers carving foam, silkscreen artists, and hot rod-speed shops guys. Years later in New York, I felt like I was coming home again moving into this 1922 concrete block and I-beam building, an old fork lift factory. Art&Industry. This show seeks to knock down the walls between applied art, industrial design and the fine arts.
Don’t buy anything new again. Recycle, Reinvent, Reuse.
Branching out, Lift Trucks not only presents modern art but old stuff made in the era when we made actually stuff and made it well. Bucking the trend of self destruction as we become the world’s consumers of shoddy made in China junk.
There’s a new use for old ashtrays, gears, tools and industrial machine carts. Come celebrate the American attitude when we pulled out of the Great Depression by doing whatever it takes like shining shoes, working double shifts in the mill.
Let’s figure out how to use some of the great stuff we have left over from the last century.