Modern Artist Dick Seeger Pioneered Scottsdale; Now He Turns to His Own Backyard

The home of 81-year-old artist Dick Seeger doesn't have a lot of curb appeal.

Located in a quiet, upscale neighborhood of North Scottsdale, it certainly doesn't look like it's the location of anything particularly remarkable. Half-hidden by scraggly creosote bushes, its unpaved circular driveway is littered with fallout from trees that surround the dun-colored house. It's the least-groomed place in a neighborhood of typical North Scottsdale adoboid compounds dear to the hearts of Midwestern newcomers enthused about the Southwest. Its lack of distinction is exactly what compelled the octagenarian artist to purchase it.

That makes sense when you eventually see what's inside.

A beast-headed man greets visitors to
Seeger's great room.
Jamie Peachey
A beast-headed man greets visitors to Seeger's great room.
Assorted oddities hang from the
ceiling of the "ethnic room."
Jamie Peachey
Assorted oddities hang from the ceiling of the "ethnic room."

However, you get a clue that this isn't your ordinary household in Cookie Cutter Big House territory from the 30-foot-high dirt pyramid surrounded by the meandering moat Seeger built completely by hand in the spacious backyard. And, of course, it's hard to ignore that 110-foot reclining Mother Spiritual Earth dirt sculpture — complete with perky boobs pointing skyward and welcoming womb — leading to the pyramid, which rises from three feet below lot grade. Not exactly your typical suburban backyard landscape treatment.

Welcome to The Magical Mystery Spiritual Experience. That's what Dick Seeger has dubbed the constantly transmuting, living-art environment he's created, and continually reconfigures, in basically every square inch of what looks to be your average upper-middle-class home, on land that once sheltered horses and stables.

Dave Hampton, an expert on Midcentury Modern art and design in the Southwest who has researched and written about Seeger and his place in the art history of the region in the 1950s and '60s, recalls the first time he met the artist and saw his jaw-dropping residence.

"It was amazing," says Hampton. "He lived alone in a great big Scottsdale — I hate to say it — McMansion, which just made the contents of the place, including its artist-in-residence, that much more unlikely. The whole place was a constantly changing display of his collections and his own art that became a surreal art experience."

A critical, yet strangely under-appreciated member of the early modern Scottsdale art scene, the still-spry Seeger — artist, gallerist, designer, collector and philosopher — is quietly hoping someone with deep pockets will make his dream of turning his artwork and vast collection of ethnic artifacts into a tangible museum, which he conceptualizes as a huge complex of — what else? — pyramids.

Whether there's a bucks-up kindred spirit out there sufficiently enthralled with his singular, pyramidal vision is anyone's guess.


Open the front doors to Dick Seeger's home/personal museum — a 5,000-square-foot residence with soaring ceilings — and you feel as though you've been sucked into a time capsule and dumped somewhere between 19th-century colonial Africa and swinging '60s America, in all its psychedelic and Age of Aquarius glory. Bespectacled Seeger greets his visitors, who have included local museum groups and looky-loos, dressed in his unchanging uniform of unadorned T-shirt, jeans, and bare feet. Though he's 81, he doesn't look a day over 65, moving from display to display like a well-trained museum docent, explaining the provenance of a particular item — if he happens to know anything about it.

"I don't know which culture this one or that one is from — I couldn't care less; these are African," says Seeger, pointing to a group of carved wooden sculptures on the floor. Though he generally knows the continent or country of origin, "[that's] as close as I want to get. I get them when I figure they would fit into a category within the museum I have planned," which he envisions as "humongous."

To the left of the foyer is what Seeger calls his ethnic room. It's a veritable rain forest of Indian necklaces strung together and dangled from the ceiling, mirrored embroideries from Gujarat, India, and Seeger-created beaded constructions, including an endless variety of African trade and other beads, both antique and new. The room has been stuffed with masks and artifacts from every conceivable culture and historical period. A gigantic bronze Buddha appearing to originate from Southeast Asia — Thailand, perhaps — anchors the crazy collection of tribal ritual sculptures, masks, and textiles Seeger has amassed from Africa, Nepal, Tibet, India, New Guinea, and Mexico.

Not content with one or two examples of a particular object, the artist/collector, who labels himself an "arranger," sucks up as many as he can. There seems to be no category limitation or quota for how many he can collect, such as antique metal bracelets once used as currency, old leather-wrapped bracelets, African beaded bracelets, and costume jewelry rings from a cache of a thousand pounds of jewelry Seeger bought and sorted through years ago. He's stacked them onto long poles, reminiscent of totemic sculpture from Africa.

A cardboard sign at the foot of a carved wooden figure in the room solemnly declares, "Life is full of diversions keeping man from learning what it's all about." Seeger's ethnic room falls squarely into the category of one of those mesmerizing distractions, not to mention the rest of the house, which has, in large part, been transformed into purely aesthetic, completely non-functional art installations.

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5 comments
Suzerina
Suzerina

Just savored the Seeger piece. I came to Scottsdale in 1965, married to Dick whose family had arrived in 1952...Always fascinated by the Old Scottsdale arts and culture scene and eventually a proud owner of Seegerpeople. images of my girls.Thank you for this treasure....and I need to get into that houseSuz.....

Roseann
Roseann

How can one fellow artist to another get to see this, Magical Mystery Spiritual Home, I'm feeling very "Beatles" right now....

Basti Auser
Basti Auser

YES , WE CAN...YES , WE CAN...WE WILL WIN IN WAR ON TERROR (30 whities or what are terrorists will never come back alive...thank you lord....aaamen).

What do you mean tragedy! It was just a birthday present for planet apes president !!! That's all ! Feels great to flip hamburgers and hip hop atop of good news...makes you feel vibrant and energized !!!

ARIZONA = UTOYA = GOVERNMENT‘S "AFTERLIFE" CASH & $$ FLASH MOB (there was no shooting in Utoya or Arizona, but tear gas and theater instead on faces of multiculturalism maniacs..your guilt or blame and shame weapon against us and our families in our own countries atop of forceful unemployment during so called "ECONOMIC CRISES" during which third world foreigners are allowed to rape, kill, and still is nothing else but fast way to early retirements for government related criminals/ terrorists...$$$ extra bonuses, and newly issued state identities while calling you a terrorists) !!! http://stateofterror.blogspot.... or http://stateofterror.wordpress...

OBAMA = STALIN = BUSH or USA = SOVIET UNION http://avsecbostjan.blogspot.c... or http://avsecbostjan.wordpress.... Whitie is fighting war on terrorism just to come home and be pronounced as terrorist...turned in Timothy, jobless, homeless ...YESSS, WE CAN...YESSS, WE CAN...GABBY OPENED HER EYES (Obaminator’s psychotic speech in Tucson = failed “Apocalypse Now“)

WAKE-UP !!! WAKE UP PEOPLE BEFORE IT GETS ALL TO LATE ON PLANET APES !!! TEARS WON'T DO YOU ANY GOOD !!! AS BUSH STATED "THAT'S WHAT THEY ARE PAID FOR"(to die ) !!

EVEN IF IRAQ WOULD HAVE BEEN WAR FOR OIL ONLY, VETERANS WOULDN'T NEVER EVER HAVE TO BE HOMELESS PEOPLE THE WAY THEY ARE AND NOR WOULD OUR PEOPLE HAVE TO DIE ALLOVER THE PLACE THE WAY THEY DO TO VERY TODAY(never ending “war on terror” story). BECAUSE EVEN IF WAR WAS FOR THE SAKE OF MONEY, MONEY SHOULD BE USED FOR AMERICAN CITIZENS AND NOT WHAT THE CASE IS OR AGAINST WHITES(to destroy us allover the world) !!! You don't really proof for 911, just put your sht together in your heads...THIS IS PLENTY ENOUGH TO HAVE O(B)SAMA INDICTED FOR CRIMES COMMITTED AGAINST WHITE AMERICAN HUMANITY TOGETHER WITH HIS ZIONIST MASTERS) !!!

Don't worry O(s)bama, you have just saved USA what is lots of Dollars in your DEBT DEALS as those best of America or Navy Seals would also grew older and then you already know how it goes...DEAD & ILL = DEBT DEAL !!!

HOW MUCH FURTHER ARE WE WILLING TO GO IN ORDER TO PLEASE VERY SAME PEOPLE WHO DENY US EVEN THE RIGHT TO EXISTENCE(what is to you country without laws or lawless country in respect to your personal rights, but the one that in contrast to your denied basic human rights recognizes you extremely liable when payments are due) !!?

IS IT INDEPENDENCE THAT WE CELEBRATE OR DEPENDENCE (what are your credit card bills or alimony saying about it) !!? HOW IS YOUR DIABETES AND LOST MARRIAGES !!? FORECLOSURES AND JOB SEARCH !!? THAT IS THE QUESTION TO BE OR NOT TO BE !!! IS IT LAND OF THE FREE OR STATE OF TERROR AGAINST OWN POPULATION !!? IT IS TIME TO LET THEM KNOW WHAT COLOR ARE THE STRIPES ON OUR STAR SPANGLED BANNER !!! TIME TO DETERMINE WHOSE INDEPENDENCE/AMERICA, WE CELEBRATE TODAY(who wants to erase us and denies us the right to exist) !!! IT IS IMPORTANT TO KNOW WHOM WE ADDRESS WITH "PRESIDENT" (STOP HUMILIATING YOURSELF) !!!

VOTING POLL:

DO WE NEED MORE PROOFS TO INDICT OBAMA AND BUSH ADMINISTRATION FOR CRIMES COMMITTED AGAINST WHITE HUMANITY !!?

1)NO, THEY ARE CLEARLY GUILTY AS OIL WAR NEVER EVER WAS REAL ISSUE IN GENOCIDE AGAINST WHITES. REAL ISSUE ARE FACTS OR WHAT WE WITNESS TODAY WHEN VETERANS ARE HOMELESS, JOBLESS, KILLED, ETC.

2)NO, AS 911 ALONE AS WELL AS ACTIONS IMPOSED AGAINST WHITES IN USA (as well worldwide) ARE CLEARLY INDICATING ACTS OF GENOCIDE AGAINST WHITE HUMANITY

3)YESS AS JUST YESTERDAY(for over 15 years to very yesterday), WE (news/media = vacuum world of lies) WERE TELLING YOU THAT UNEMPLOYMENT WAS AT 10% WHILE TODAY ONE IS AT 50% (HOW COME NO ONE QUESTION JOURNALISM LIKE THIS OR WHAT IS WORLD OF LIES AND DEMENTIA)!

4)I AGREE WITH FIRST TWO ANSWERS ABOVE. IT IS TIME TO PRESS CRIMINAL CHARGES AGAINST BOTH ADMINISTRATIONS DUE TO ACTS OF GENOCIDE AGAINST WHITE HUMANITY FOR THE SAKE(SAFETY) OF US AND OUR CHILDREN(DO NOT TURN THEM IN WHITE REFUGEES ON PLANET APES OR WHAT YOU ARE ABOUT TO SEE WHEN VISITING ABOVE PAGES) !!!

Aki
Aki

Fascinating individual with a drive to be and do the extra ordinary. I enjoyed this article and am amazed at the talents and hard work of Dick Seeger.

 
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