Monthly Archives: June 2015

The Wrecking Crew

The Wrecking CrewThe Wrecking Crew is a must see music documentary, directed by Denny Tedesco. Denny is the son of the late Tommy Tedesco, who was a notable member of an elite group of musicians. This documentary tells the compelling story of a group of studio musicians, located in Los Angeles, who were used in the 1960s and 1970s. These were the unsung musicians behind some of the biggest hits of that era. Who used them? Almost everyone used them: The Beach Boys, The Righteous Brothers, Nancy and Frank Sinatra, The Byrds, Herb Alpert, Sonny and Cher, Mamas and The Papas, The Carpenters and The Monkees. They were also used for television them songs, film scores and advertising jingles. As a young girl, I watched every episode of TV show The Monkees. As I grew older, I heard that The Monkees were hired for their acting ability and not their talent as musicians. I did not know that The Wrecking Crew played the instruments on their albums. I am sorry that The Wrecking Crew did not get recognition for their work on the recordings they were involved in.

How surprising it was to see that Glen Campbell and Leon Russell were a part of The Wrecking Crew and that there was a woman guitarist, Carol Kaye.

The Wrecking Crew

I am elated that Denny Tedesco had the vision and determination to make The Wrecking Crew. Just to get the licensing for over 100 hit songs used in the movie had to be a daunting task. Denny raised $312,000 through a Kickstarter campaign to create the movie. I could watch this movie over and over. The interviews will totally captivate you. On The Wrecking Crew website, Denny gives credit to his mother, “If my father hadn’t had my mother, he wouldn’t have been as successful as he became. She really kept it together.” As you listen to the interviews in the movie, it becomes apparent that these studio musicians spent most of their time working. If they had families, it would have taken an incredibly supportive spouse to keep up with all the family obligations by themselves. They are also the unsung heroes in this story.

The Wrecking Crew

Postcards, an Enduring Art Form

Yosemite Post CardI recently embarked on a long road trip, heading to Northern California. As a memento of my trip I picked up a few postcards, as I always do when I travel. I purchased a postcard that was produced by Ranger Doug’s Enterprises. The postcard was a reproduction of a 1939 Works Progress Administration (WPA) poster by artist, C. Don Powell. Ranger Doug’s Enterprises reproduces WPA National Park serigraph posters. This company hand-draws every screen from original black and white photographs. From the new screens they recolor each poster using period artwork and palettes.

Historic Yosemite Postcard Book

California Redwoods vintage postcardI also picked up a copy of The Historic Yosemite Postcard Book. This book has perforated pages and each postcard is quite charming. Finding these reproductions inspired me to search for original vintage postcards from this region. I thought that would be an easy task, and I am sure I could find tons of vintage postcards on-line. But that would be too easy. I would rather riffle through a stack of postcards at local antique shops. I journeyed to one of my favorite antique shops, expecting to find scads of postcards from Yosemite and the Redwood National Park. I only found one from this region. The back of vintage postcards can be as interesting as the front. This Redwoods postcard looks like it was mailed in 1949 and was mailed for one cent.

Back of vintage Redwoods postcard

On October 1, 2015, Yosemite Park will commemorate the 125th anniversary of the establishment of Yosemite National Park. President Benjamin Harrison signed the legislation creating the nation’s third National Park. Yellowstone was the first National Park.

Grand Central Depot - vintage postcardWhile searching through vintage postcards, I came across a great postcard of Grand Central Depot. I was looking for more information about American Studio, the company that produced this card, and discovered an interesting site: If you enjoy vintage postcards, you will have to spend some time on this site. Opening paragraph from the Metropostcard website: “At the beginning of the 20th century a perfect storm arose between the growing forces of technology, economics, and art that created the Golden Age of Post Cards. It marked a major paradigm shift in which postcards moved from solely being a means of correspondence to a collectable item. More cards were produced and collected on a worldwide basis during those early years than at any other point in history. It is these cards in particular that are the most sought after by today’s collector, but the entire spectrum of postcards ranging from the earliest 19th century postal to digital cards is what makes up the field of Deltiology.”

Grand Central Back of Postcard

Art in Common Places – Ghost Signs

Lancaster, PA Painted Building
Ghost Sign in Lancaster, PA

There was a period in time when advertisements (vintage mural ads) were painted on brick buildings and barns. The peak period for this form of advertising was 1920’s to 1940’s. The signs that you may come across today are most likely faded and I love that look. The sign painters were called “wall dogs”.

A gem of a ghost sign is located right in our own back yard on the east wall of Coopersmith’s Pub in downtown Fort Collins. The Coca-Cola/Angell’s Delicatessen sign was painted in 1958 by local sign painter Dan Brown. He received $400 for the fabulous work.

Ghost Sign Restoration
Restored Ghost Sign in Fort Collins, CO

Preservation conservator, Deborah Uhl from Ethereality, was selected to restore the painting in 2011. The finished work keeps the integrity of the faded piece, yet protects it from further fading and chipping. In 2013 the American Association for State and Local History (AASLH) awarded The City of Fort Collins the Award of Merit for the preservation and interpretation of the Coca-Cola/Angell’s Delicatessen sign.

I find the restored ghost signs, that keep their faded appearance, to be quite enchanting. I am equally thrilled to see a revival in ads painted on buildings in these modern times. Colossal Media has brought this form back into vogue and has been credited by The Wall Street Journal and The New York Times for solely bringing a resurgence to this form.

As I travel around the country, I will be taking photos of painted building signs to share on this blog.

Colossal Media Sign
New Painted Building Sign by Colossal Media


Down Memory Lane – Graphic Design

Mary Ann's Line Art
Mary Ann’s first  line drawing

When I entered the graphic design field, many years ago, we would Clip Art Bookhave scads of clip art books around the office. Some of the books were quite large and I doubt if you could  find many copies today. We used the clip art to create camera ready pages (mechanicals) in the production of printed pieces. Sometimes the art was used for reference to draw line art with Rapidograph pens. My specialty was creating line drawings using these pens. My work area was usually very messy, but I was meticulous with the drawings. I enjoy finding old clip art books at vintage book stores and library book sales. I have a small clip art book, Overture to “Line Art,” produced by Volk Corporation, Pleasantville, N.J. in 1959.

MilkmanThe artwork from Overture to “Line Art” takes you back to a simpler time where everyone had milk delivered to their doorstep and a gas station attendant pumped your gas and you never had to get out of your car. Don’t you wish that was still an option on rainy days? Best of all, there werGas Station Attendante no cell phones back then; the mode of communicating was a big black phone. I wish I had a phone like my grandmother’s. I would much rather talk on an old fashioned phone than on a cell phone.

Bodine Assembly DrawingI was considered a mechanical artist when I first entered graphic design. I was very fortunate to work with Anne DiFrancesco. Anne was the art director at one of my first graphic design jobs. She would give me increasingly more difficult assignments. I had minimal experience  in creating logos or using Rapidographs. I had only a few pieces in my portfolio from my classes at Fairfield University. Anne routinely put design projects on my desk anBidirectional Transfer Deviced would say, “give it a try.” I absolutely loved creating logos and doing the technical drawings. Here are a couple of my early drawings.

Anne decided to break away from company that we both worked for. She invited me to join her in the creation of A & M Studios. The A was for Anne and M for Mary Ann. She regretted using that name when I left A & M to do freelance graphic design as Graphic Support Services. I believe she changed its meaning to Advertising and Marketing, which works well with A & M. Anne continues to be in business today as A & M Studios in Westport, CT. I would not hesitate giving Anne my highest recommendation, she is a consummate professional and a wonderful designer.

Eventually I had to learn marker techniques to mock up designs to give clients an idea of what their finished printed piece would look like. This was very challenging for me, especially the lettering. Here is comp (mock-up) of a proposed marketing piece for a client, The Bodine Corporation, and the finished piece. The idea was to use a metallic ink, since we were illustrating machinery. The client loved it and Anne and I continued to do design work for The Bodine Coporation for many years.

Bodine Mock-upBodine Assembly Brochure










Designs by KGOne of my favorite people to work with, in the graphic design world, was Kerri Iserman at Designs by K & G in Fort Collins, CO. Kerri was a joy to work with; always an upbeat attitude and so creative. When I began working with Kerri, I was an Apple-Mac person. Kerri patiently taught me how to use PC’s for design work. I would love to watch Kerri switch between an early version of Windows to the MS-DOS side, for troubleshooting computer issues.

A side benefit to working at Designs by KG was the membership they provided to PULSE, a local fitness center, where would be play racquetball after work. Kerri was a fierce athletic competitor and we had a ton of fun. I haven’t played racquetball with Kerri for many years, maybe it is time for a re-match.


Mary Ann at A & M Studios
Mary Ann at drafting table – A & M Studios 1986