Art Show – “1940′s – Leading Ladies” Complete!

My “1940′s – Leading Ladies” piece is complete for my Plaza art show!  Printed on metallic photo paper like the “1939 – Grand Opening Gala” piece, the images are so crisp and the finish provides an incredible depth.  I can’t wait for people to see these in person!

This piece consists of 4 layers – the background, a war bond propaganda poster, the projector and the “Rosie the Riveter” foreground image. 

The background contains a number of ads for the Plaza from the 40′s demonstrating the strength of the Hollywood Starlet during this period.  So many great, female actresses were able to shine because of the war and they made films that appealed to the women whose husbands were away at war. 

The war bond propaganda poster represents the role the female image played in urging the public to purchase war bonds to support the war effort.  Housewives needed to be able to relate to the women, and they also needed to attract men’s attention as well.  I also included a silhouette of a B29 Bomber, which Atlanta women helped to build at Bell Aircraft during the war.  This poster is the interactive element of this piece; sliding back and forth between the background and projector layers.

The projector layer is pretty-much as the projector looks today at The Plaza.  I did adjust the colors slightly so that the blues match the sky in the “1939 – Grand Opening Gala” piece.  And I also added an ad from the manager of the Plaza, in the newspapers in June 1940.  Even though this didn’t relate to the war or leading ladies, I thought this ad was a significant piece of the Plaza’s history.  It reads “Since opening the Plaza Theatre, we have had many requests for outstanding pictures of past releases and by special engagement we have secured three of the pictures most requested and will show them one day each, as follows:  Today, Rose Marie with Jeanette MacDonald and Nelson Eddy.  Thursday, The Citadelwith Robert Donat and Rosalind Russell.  Friday, Tarzan Finds a Sonwith Johnny Weismuller and Maureen O’Sullivan.  We present them for you to see and enjoy again or not to miss if you have not seen them.  John G Evins, Mgr.”  I chose to include this because in 1940, the Plaza listened to its patrons and started a tradition that continues today.  Just last week, the Plaza brought back A Clockwork Orange, for which loads of fans came out to enjoy that movie on the big screen once again (or for the very first time). 

The front “Rosie the Riveter” layer adds the strong, female image I wanted to convey.  Strong, determined and beautiful, women found themselves in the workplace, supporting the troops and their families like they never had before. 

Here’s the finished piece – with the propagana poster behind the projector and moved out.

I love this piece and am so glad to be able to celebrate the women of Hollywood, Atlanta and of the Plaza.  This piece will be sold at a silent auction at the Plaza in February (date to be determined soon).  Half of the money raised that night will be donated back to the Plaza to help keep it alive.  I hope you like this piece and will come out to show your support!

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Art Show – Setting the Stage for “1940′s – Leading Ladies”

To pull together elements for the 1940′s piece in my Plaza Theatre art show, I wanted to create an imagining of the 40′s combining modern elements from inside the Plaza with historic icons to tell a graphic story. Rosie the Riveter, of course, came to mind, as did war-time propaganda posters urging Americans to buy war bonds. The industrial look and feel of The Plaza’s main projector felt perfect to me when paired with a “Rosie” icon and also served to demonstrate how images of strong women were projected on to the 1940′s housewife and mother who was becoming a strong leader in her own household. I also wanted to pull in the newspaper ads for the Plaza during the period, as well as incorporate the B29 Bomber and war bonds.

Starting with this image provided by Jeffrey Keesee Photographyof the Plaza’s projection room, I did extensive work in Photoshop to enhance the image and tweak the colors to ensure the colors stay consistent throughout all the pieces.  I also needed to separate the projector from the background.  In the finished piece, the projector will be a separate, dimensional layer in front of the background.  And the background will contain the newspaper ads for the Plaza like in the sky of the “1939, Grand Opening Gala” piece. 

Check back soon to see the finished “1940′s – Leading Ladies” piece and to see how the rest of the show comes together!  In the mean time, the Plaza can use your support, and in this economy, you can use a discount for a great night out at the movies!  Become a member of the Plaza and get discounts to your favorite movies and other great benefits!

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Art Show – Prepping for the 1940′s

Celebrating the history of the Plaza Theatre in Atlanta through an artistic tribute wasn’t just going to be a great journey for me, I soon learned it was going to be a lesson in history as well.  The theme for the 1939 piece was easy – The Plaza opened their doors, starting a chain of events that would lead me to this very project.  Important stuff! But to capture The Plaza’s ride throughout the decades, I needed to take some detours to see what was happening in the city, country and what was influencing the theatre’s patrons.

When I started pulling the newspaper ads for the1940′s, I was overwhelmed by the outpouring of support during the second World War.  Every day, there were pages of pictures, just like this one, celebrating and acknowledging the Georgians going to serve their country abroad. Headline after headline talked about the war and there were even regular features about the men reunited with their ladies while on leave or in-between tours of duty.  Incredible stuff. 

My expectation was to find a ton of film noir ads for films showing at The Plaza…and I had actually planned my entire piece around Film Noir.  But when I started pulling the old ads, there were a few film noir films shown here and there…but the overwhelming number of films were what I’d almost consider (for lack of a better term)…”Chick Flicks”.  Films with Norma Shearer, Joan Crawford, Ava Gardner, Judy Garland, Barbara Stanwyck, Marlene Dietrich and Lana Turnerseemed to set The Plaza’s stage every week.  “Uh oh”, I thought.  My Film Noir piece wasn’t going to work and the theme that had emerged was a polar-opposite. 

While Film Noir was gaining in popularity, The Plaza had a dedication to it’s Poncey-Highland audience.  Sons, husbands and fathers were being shipped off to the war, women were taking their places in the workforce and they were now heading to the movies on their own – if not for entertainment, but for the newsreels…or maybe their own sanity.  And in Hollywood, studios supported their leading men as they also went off to war….giving women an opportunity to be the strength in Hollywood pictures, just as the housewife was finding strength in her own home.

Hollywood didn’t miss a beat and neither did The Plaza. My new theme was now clear – “1940′s – Leading Ladies”. These leading ladies weren’t just the likes of Joan Crawford and Norma Shearer…but they were your average, every day woman who now went to work and supported their families in ways they never had before…at least never in such great numbers. 

In Atlanta, two dominant companies had significant roles for women during the war. Bell Aircraft hired women on their B29 Bomber projects (remember Rosie the Riveter?) and almost 80% of the Atlanta Federal Reserve’sworkforce was women who worked on a number of things – especially handling war bond redemptions that were manually processed at the time.

With this piece, I plan to capture an imagining of the 1940′s Leading Ladies through a modern element from The Plaza, combined with a snapshot of 1940′s Hollywood women and Atlanta’s female roles in the workplace.  Check back soon or subscribe to this blog to see how the next piece progresses and to see the rest of the series as it’s created.  All of these pieces will be sold at a Silent Auction at The Plaza in February, 2011.  Half of the money raised at the silent auction will be donated back to the Plaza to help keep it alive for many more years to come.

Art Show – “1939 – Grand Opening Gala” Complete!

Check it out!  The first piece celebrating the decades of the Plaza Theatre in Atlanta is complete! Below, you can see “1939 – Grand Opening Gala” that you could own when we auction these one-of-a-kind pieces off in 2011 to help keep the Plaza alive! In the first image, the red carpet is split and when you pull on the black handles on the sides of the frame, they open to reveal a video.

The finished size is 18″ x 24″, in a black shadowbox with the title and name of the piece etched in the glass.  You’ll find 4 layers of photographic art (the main image of the Plaza furnished by Jeffrey Keesee Photography) mounted and assembled, plus a digital video showcasing the trailer for “The Women” – the first film to be shown at the Plaza on December 23, 1939.  In the sky, you’ll find actual Grand Opening Ads pulled from microfilm and restored to incorporate into this project.  Want to see it in action? Check out the video below:

Also, just for fun, here are a few of the ads I pulled  that were incorporated into this piece along with the original 4 x 6 mock ups I put together.  You’ll notice a piece missing in the final piece from the mock-ups.  The creative process is just crazy like that and I can always edit / revise things for years.  Nothing like taking a walk down memory lane to celebrate Atlanta’s longest continually operating cinema! Stay tuned as the remaining 7 pieces of this collection are completed and shown.  Pick which you’d like to add to your art collection and help keep this theatre alive!

Leave a comment and let me know your thoughts!  And be sure to share with your friends on Facebook, Twitter and with anyone you think would be interested in this project. Half of the proceeds from the silent auction will be donated right back to The Plaza Theatre to help keep it alive!  More information with the Art Show dates, times and auction details will be coming soon.

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Art Show – Adding People to the “Grand Opening Gala”

It’s the people that make a small business work – and I couldn’t ignore the people that turned out to support The Plaza in 1939 for their Grand Opening Gala.  As I mentioned in my last post, I was unable to find a lot of images of the Plaza’s beginning…so this project will be a historical imagining of The Plaza based on what I can find – through articles, photos and stories.  I rummaged through old family photos and did some digging through modern stock images to put together some people to attend this historic event. 

The first image you see is a layer being added in front of the theatre.  The image will be mounted on foam board, split in half with handles on the outside of the frame on each side.  When you pull the handles, the people will move to the outside of the frame to expose a surprise that I’ll post in my next blog.  Working with old photos on a modern piece is difficult.  The quality isn’t as good…so these also took a great deal of Photoshop work and restoration to add them and give them a similar feel and texture as the rest of the images.  I added the original images below so you could see what I started with and what they evolved into.

Next, I added two large images that will be another layer, right in the front against the glass.  The moving layer of people mentioned above will move behind these two people when the handles are pulled to reveal something great!  For these two people, I needed large images and higher quality to work with.  So I pulled from Stock Photography – looking for people that had that vintage look about them that would fit with the Golden Age of Hollywood look I was going for.  Again, I added the original images that I used so you can see what I did to incorporate them.  One thing that was kind of a bummer is they cover up the movie posters in front of the theatre (that I spent hours adding in with reflections from the glass).  But that’s okay, I’ll always know they’re there.   

You’ll notice the careful use of color starting to emerge and start to see how the layers are coming together.  The theatre and it’s opening event is the main focus and I really wanted those colors to be saturated and alive.  And while the people are important, I wanted to desaturate their colors – give almost a sepia effect, with a slight wash of color.  You can’t see it too well in this picture, but the ladies have slightly red lips, the man’s cigar is colored, eyes are colored, ect – almost a modified Technicolor approach. 

There are some exciting things in the works for the month of February at The Plaza – and this is just one of the great events.  Keep checking back to see the progress of this art project that will debut at The Plaza in February – to be sold to help raise money for Atlanta’s best and longest operating cinema!  Mark your calendars and please spread the word!  This is only one of eight pieces I’ll be putting together for this show.

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Art Show – Prepping for the “Grand Opening Gala”

It only makes sense for the first piece in this Plaza Art Exhibit to start at the very beginning – with The Plaza’s Grand Opening Gala.  The piece will be an imagined historical image of The Plaza‘s beginning.  It will have multiple layers, using a modern image of The Plaza, Photoshopped like crazy to recreate the theatre as it was and as it is today.  I’ll also incorporate some old family photos to add vintage images of people to the piece, interactive elements and a digital photo frame to show a trailer of “The Women”, the first film to ever play at The Plaza.

I found the grand opening ad for the theatre on microfilm from an old Atlanta Journal Newspaper.  I can only imagine the how exciting it must have been.  They opened on December 23, 1939 – just a week after the Atlanta debut of “Gone With the Wind” at The Lowes Theatre.  Atlanta was in a full-on film frenzy!  Unfortunately, The Roxy opened on December 24th…and based on the newspaper coverage, The Roxy had much more financial backing with larger ads and more articles.  The Plaza’s Grand Opening ad has a VERY bad image of the Plaza in it, showing the exterior.  I wasn’t able to find any other original images of The Plaza, and if I did, it probably wouldn’t have the resolution to be able to achieve the look I’m trying to go for.  So this entire series will be an interpretive representation and imagining of the Plaza’s past – based on newspaper ads, stories, articles and whatever images I can find.  Think of it as remaking a great film…and hopefully this remake will live up to the original! 

To note, this week I’ve made contact with someone who works for the Georgia Theatre Company, a company that owned The Plaza sometime around the 50′s…and she actually previously worked for George Lefont who also owned The Plaza in the 80′s -2006.  She actually managed the theatre for a short time.  So, I’ve found someone who used to work for someone who owned the Plaza…who now works for another company that also owned The Plaza.  She’ll be a great resource for my upcoming pieces! 

But as for this piece, you’ll see the first steps in this image.  The picture to the far left was taken and donated to his project from Jeffrey Keesee Photography. To get the theatre in tip-top shape and to take it back in time, I had a lot of photoshop work to do.  I polished up the chrome, removed a lot of grit from the stonework, repaired all the neon, cleared the parking lot, added posters of “The Women” to the poster cases, saturated the colors, added a winter sky and re-created the exterior signage to reflect how it looks in the Grand Opening ad I found.  The new sign will be an additional layer that will raise and lower using an arm on the side of the frame to demonstrate where the Plaza was…and where it is going.  Processing this image took about 5 days of tedious Photoshop work.  The final art piece will be 18 x 24…so the details really matter.  This will be the foundation for all the other layers.  I’ll post more about that soon!  Below, you can see the image broken apart to show how this will be put together to add the dimension and interactive elements.

Please pencil-in this show on your calendars for February (date to be confirmed soon).  It will be an Art Opening and a Film – and you can own your own piece of The Plaza by purchasing these pieces silent auction style.  Half of the money raised from the auction will be donated back to the theatre to keep The Plaza alive!  This is a great way to support local small businesses, get involved and add some Atlanta history to your home or office!  Also, if you have any pictures, articles or stories to share about The Plaza’s history, and you’d like to be a part of this project, please contact me at !

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Design Inspiring Films – Get Low

It’s been a while since I did a post about a design inspiring film – and it’s certainly not because I haven’t seen any good ones! So I thought I’d post something about Get Low that I’ve been meaning to post for a while. Get Low is a movie spun out of equal parts folk tale, fable and real-life legend about the mysterious, 1930s Tennessee hermit who famously threw his own rollicking funeral party… while he was still alive. It stars Bill Murray and Robert Duvall, who both did an amazing job with this film. 

What’s notable about this film to me, and how it relates to Vertigo Graphic is when Bill Murray is trying to help Robert Duvall prepare and invite people to his funeral party. Bill Murray takes him into town to buy him a new suit, clean him up a bit and get flyers created (too bad Vertigo Graphic wasn’t around in the 30′s – I would have loved to work on this project). When taking a picture of Robert Duvall, they decided to photograph him BEFORE he got all cleaned up…in fact, the mussed up his hair even more than it was to begin with because a “crazy old nut draws more”.  How true!  His image was his brand, and only an image of him as the crazy old nut everyone knew would draw the crowd he was looking for.  Rebranding at the event, for his turning point was definitely appropriate…but doing it too soon wouldn’t have brought the results. Timing is everything – whether your personal brand or business. 

Check out the trailer below for Get Low that mentions this ad and photoshoot, then check out this film!  It’s a keeper!

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Art Show – A Plaza Photo Shoot

Just wanted to take the time to give a huge shout-out to Jeffrey Keesee Photography for the assist with a photo shoot at The Plaza Theatre yesterday. For this celebration of the Decades at The Plaza, I wanted some great foundation pictures of elements inside the theatre and I couldn’t think of a person to better capture those images than Jeffrey Keesee

This morning, when I woke up, there was a CD that had been slid under my door containing fantastic images of the outside of the Plaza, the marquee, concession stand, ticket booth, projection room, light fixtures, theatre curtains, vintage video games and more!  Now it’s time to get those images into Photoshop to combine with other elements, original ads from the Plaza and to build the story of the Plaza’s history throughout the decades.  So much work to be done and I’m looking really forward to continuing with this project. 

An interesting note while we were at The Plaza for the photo shoot…a man came in and asked if he could look around in the theatre because his father had run the projection booth there in the 40′s.  He said he hadn’t been in the theatre in over 50 years and when he was a kid, his dad would sometimes allow him to change the letters on the marquee.  I’ll have to say…he was kind of a strange guy – nice – but just not quite all “there”…but meeting him and hearing his story made this project very real.  You could tell how moved he was to be able to step back in time and walk into that theatre again.  As the last of it’s kind, the ability to take a walk down memory lane like that is what makes the Plaza unique and worth saving to make sure we keep history alive. The Plaza has a great deal of history  - much of that history hasn’t been documented and old pictures of the theatre are few and far between.  If you have any old pictures of The Plaza Theatre in Atlanta or a story you can share to help me put together this “imagined historical look at The Plaza”, please email me at .  I’d love to include your memories of this theatre in this project. 

Check back often as I’ll continue to update this blog with images and information as this project progresses!

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Art Show – Celebrating the “Decades of The Plaza”

To celebrate The Plaza Theatre in Atlanta, along with the history of cinema, we’re hitting the workshop to put together an artistic and  interactive look at the history of The Plaza through our “Decades of The Plaza” art show.  The art show will be scheduled for spring, 2011 and will be held at The Plaza on Ponce de Leon in Atlanta. 

The art will be a series of 8 modern pictures of The Plaza, displayed dimensionally,with historic overlays, newspaper ads from the Plaza, some digital media and interactive components.  We’ll be selling the art through a silent auction at an “Art Opening and a Movie” event.  Half of the money raised will be donated back to the Plaza to help keep this historic theatre alive – plus it allows us to have some fun getting our hands dirty!!

Subscribe to this blog or check back often!  We’ll post our progress, images of the art pieces, fun things we’ve learned about The Plaza and give you an inside look into the making of this historic showcase of Atlanta’s Historic Plaza Theatre!  Stay tuned for more details coming soon!  And if you’re from Atlanta and have any old images of The Plaza Theatre or can share a personal story about the first time you went to The Plaza, please email me at  to get involved in this project!

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It’s a Mad, Mad World in this Mad, Mad House

I recently became a statistic as someone who has decided to lose cable television in favor taking advantage of television and film content available online. One thing I love about small business is it’s flexibility and ability to easily maneuver in a constantly changing market. Changes come fast and easy for small businesses who are in-tune with their customers, accept their conditions and see the opportunities in front of them. Studios and Cable Companies, however, have been in denial about technological advancements, refused to accept the wants and needs of their younger markets and have now found themselves in conflict with their younger audience while struggling with a changing economy.  

In an (online) today, Time Warner Cable just reported a loss of 155,000 video subscribers in the July-September quarter, compared with 64,000 a year ago. And the next largest cable company, Comcast Corp., reported last week that its subscriber loss more than doubled in the third quarter, to 275,000. Comcast said many of those leaving had taken advantage of low introductory rates that the company offered last year when the analog TV broadcast network shut down. While large cable companies were focused on grabbing their older and geographically remote audience who were mourning the death of their rabbit ears, a much smaller business called Hulu - with just a vision and modest backing – was able to leverage a new approach and snatch an audience, and possibly the future of broadcasting as we know it, that the cable companies had ignored. Bucking companies who “have always done it this way” forces change, and for centuries, great businesses and people who are open and can envision a change have emerged as leaders, knocking others off of their comfortable throne, forcing them to scramble to compete or ultimately, step aside.

So in my “world without cable” adventure, I stumbled across a 2004 reality show on Hulu that originally appeared on the Sci Fi Channel called Mad Mad House that carries a similar theme to being open and accepting of new things. The show is about a group of ten contestants competing for $100,000. The contestants lived together in a house inhabited by another group of people known as the alts (for their alternative lifestyles). The alts voted the contestants off by judging them on their ability to perform “challenges,” which were based loosely on the practices of each alt’s lifestyle, and their behavior and attitude with the other guests. You kind of have to take this show for what it’s worth on the surface, and I didn’t find myself necessarily relating to each of the alt’s lifestyles, however the show forced the contestants to be open-minded and accepting of their surroundings or order to move forward or ultimately be voted off. Small business is very similar to this theme – you have to accept what your customers want and decide if you want to move forward to succeed or move forward in a different direction to capture a new audience. On this show, several people wouldn’t participate in challenges because it conflicted with their morals, which I respect and also agree with. By no means do I think you should change your business if it conflicts with your core beliefs – but if your customers demand it you have be able change, or be ready to get “voted off” by your current audience much like these cable companies and create a new direction for your business. It’s better to accept that early on and re-leverage your business and talents, than to be forced to scramble in a desperate attempt to stay in the game.

Getting back to our core business, graphic designs for small businesses, what also caught my eye with this show, Mad Mad House, that small businesses owners can take a note of are the design elements in their opening sequence. While the topics and characters on this show could have been offensive or off-putting to a large group of people, the show’s designers were able to understand their potential audience, what they responded to and execute a look and design that was progressive, generally neutral, visually appealing and competes visually with reality “greats” like Survivor, the Amazing Race and Big Brother. I’ll leave the actual content and challenges for you to decide for yourself. 

Below, you’ll find the images from the opening sequence that I really liked. They have a whimsy, progressive and modern styling that I found eye-catching and relevant to the Sci Fi Channel’s core audience. The imagry reminded me a great deal of opening title sequence and I love how they accentuate and effectively capture elements of each of the alt’s worlds. And it could be said that the whole large-head, shrunken-body thing was ahead of it’s time after seeing The Red Queen in Tim Burton’s Alice in Wonderland.

I think the Mad Mad House designers were spot-on, at least with their look and overall theme, and I wanted to share it with you today. If you’re thinking of making a change away from cable, give the show a chance on Hulu, where you can watch the entire season…when you want to.