DISCOVERING DEAN J. MEEKER or WITHOUT MEEKER, NO WARHOL? ……AND OTHER THINGS

Hello lovely followers and lovers of vintage things. This week, although we have several new offerings on our website for sale and I will touch on them briefly, I’m going to zero in on the gorgeous abstract expressionist silkscreen serigraph by Dean J. Meeker titled Joseph’s Coat.  My husband, John, and I spied him at an estate sale recently and totally fell in love. So here goes….. (Remember if you want to see the item on our website, click on the photo!)

 

Josephs Coat Abstract Expressionist Silkscreen Serigraph by Dean J. MeekerDean J. Meeker was born in 1920 in Colorado and went on to become an internationally recognized printmaker and sculptor, and Professor Emeritus at the University of Wisconsin-Madison. I didn’t find much about Dean, which is unfortunate, but will relate what I did find. He used the G.I. Bill to attend Northwestern University part-time while he also attended the School of the Art Institute of Chicago earning degrees of Bachelors and Masters of Fine Art. He began a teaching career in 1946 at the University of Wisconsin-Madison and remained an unprecedented 46 years being the only Art Department faculty member ever to have earned a Masters of Fine Art, plus gaining the recognition of serving under every Dean in the history of the School of Education. He is noted as teaching the first ever university-affiliated course in serigraphy which was instrumental in breaking the “fine art” barrier for serigraphy as an art form. He drew upon his exposure to silk-screen techniques while working as a painter of billboards during his late teens and again afterward in Chicago when working at a Midwest signage shop while attending the Art Institute. In 1948, Dean offered an unofficial and unaccredited course to his students and his exuberance and creativity transformed this once commercial process into an evolving artform offering complex expression. The class became so popular it led to the creation, in 1950, of the first ever university-affiliated course in serigraphy. He continued to expand on the printing process and in 1959, while developing an innovative combination of serigraphy and intaglio printing, he was awarded a Guggenheim Fellowship. The first in the UW Art Department. He used this fellowship to build on his expertise of the intaglio process and became one of the first printmakers to overprint silk-screens with polymer intaglio. This led him to a collaboration with engineer John McFee to invent the Meeker-McFee motorized etching press. The combination of these techniques allowed him to build such seemingly three-dimensional images that one critic is quoted as saying Meeker’s images “almost dance and sing”. With this process it brought Dean back full circle to what was his first love….sculpture. But that is another story for another time. Meeker loved to teach and what impresses me in all of this is not that Dean J. Meeker, who isn’t overly famous but made beautiful art and this piece Joseph’s Coat is one of those; but, what he offered as a teacher to future generations. And I am left wondering without Dean J. Meeker, would there have been an Andy Warhol? (Click on photo to see listing.)

 

Mid Century Modern Oval Sunburst and Bird Wall Sculpture Attributed to C. JereAmong our other offering this week is not a flock of seagulls! But a great flock of geese flying in front of an abstract sunburst! This is an awesome mid-century modern wall sculpture comprised of steel, the sunburst; copper and brass, the birds. It is unsigned but done in the style of and attributed to Curtis Jere. Curtis Jere or C. Jere, is not a single artist but is a nom-de-plume for a group of artists working for Artisan House which included Curtis Freiler and Jerry Fels. Before founding Artisan House these two had built a costume jewelry business which sold under the names of Renoir and Matisse, two well-known names of mid-20th century costume jewelry. Artisan House was sold and resold and remains in business today. The C. Jere sculptures and metal work were distributed by Raymor, a well-known name in Mid Century collectibles, and sold at Gump’s in San Francisco and other upscale retail establishments. Jerry Fels died 11/5/07 and Curtis Freiler, his brother-in-law passed 7/22/13 at a ripe old age of 103; but, their legacy lives on in these fabulous sculptures. (Click on photo to see listing.)

 

MCM Pair Walnut Dining Side Chairs by Holman Manufacturing Co.Next in line a handsome pair of MCM dining chairs by Holman Manufacturing Co. Sometimes you just need a simple little pair of chairs. Nothing fancy. Just good looking, sturdy and serviceable chairs. Attractive and easy to move. And thus, is the type of furniture made by this little-known company. Holman Manufacturing Co. was a family owned business in Pittsburgh, Texas from the early 1900s to sometime in the 1990s. It is reported the company was founded by Danish immigrants and passed down through the generations and I have observed that during the mid-century modern era their designs have a definite Danish Modern flair. (Click on photo to see listing.)

 

 

Lane Walnut End or Side Tables with Inlaid Tops Mid Century Modern Pair #1925We also have this beautiful pair of inlaid walnut side tables by Lane Alta Vista, one of the best-known names in mid-century modern furniture. Interestingly, in my over 30 years of collecting and selling vintage and mid-century modern furniture the Lane name has gone from “oh, those are just Lane” to “Oh! Those are Lane!!” They have produced many beautiful and innovative designs and this pair of little tables is no exception. Someday I will expand more on this company. (Click on photo to see listing.)

 

 

 

Pair Milo Baughman Style Cantilever Brass Plated Bar Stools MCM

And finally,…… Belly up to the bar boys! Or, have a seat in these awesome bar stools. This pair is done in the style of famed designer Milo Baughman and made by Cal-Style Furniture Mfg. Co. of Compton, California with a stamped date on the bottom of 1987. They are comprised of a brass plated rectangular steel tube cantilevered frame with rainbow curved arms and horseshoe shaped base. These interesting barstools are bar height with a foot rest and that fact, along with their cantilever design, combine to make one really comfy place to sit. I am pretty partial to all things Milo, maybe because he was born in my home state of Kansas, and these are no exception. Someday soon I may write a whole blog about Mr. Baughman. (Click on photo to see listing.)

 

Well…..that’s all folks! Until next time, enjoy your life and your home! Chris

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