Included in the group were groundbreaking leather and clothing fashion designer Lloyd Kiva New, a front-running supporter of the Native American crafts movement heating up nationwide. Also working in the center's display studios were woodcarver Raymond Phillips Sanderson, silversmith Wes Segner, painter Lew Davis, ceramic artist Mathilde Schaeffer Davis, and calligrapher-photographer Leonard Yuschik.

When the demo studios burned to the ground in 1950, Lloyd Kiva and Wes Segner spearheaded a drive, with financial underwriting from Anne and Fowler McCormick, to build a new Craftsmen Center on empty land north of downtown Scottsdale. Completed in 1955, the complex of studios and high-end shops centered on a breezy open patio and featured the distinctly Southwestern designs of local designers, craftsmen, and artists who were attaining international recognition. It was christened Fifth Avenue Craft Center, after New York's highly fashionable Fifth Avenue, and later renamed Kiva Crafts Center.

In addition, Frank Lloyd Wright had established Taliesin West as his winter residence and architectural school in the then-untouched hinterlands of North Scottsdale. Soleri, who had apprenticed with Wright, had completed several eco-architectural structures at Cosanti on Doubletree Road and was producing iconic pottery and sand-cast bells that spoke of the desert landscape. It was art that Dick Seeger would begin selling in his first Scottsdale studio gallery, along with his own windwood sculptures, abstracted woodcarvings, and ethnic objets d'art that crossed his path.

A collection of photographs and mementos held dear by Seeger.
Jamie Peachey
A collection of photographs and mementos held dear by Seeger.
Foreground: Clay sculptures created by Seeger's ex-wife, artist Betty Helman.
Background: Modular murals the artist has built around specific themes.
Jamie Peachey
Foreground: Clay sculptures created by Seeger's ex-wife, artist Betty Helman. Background: Modular murals the artist has built around specific themes.

Details


Dick Seeger was into plastics long before a bewildered Dustin Hoffman was taken aside in 1967's The Graduate by a smarmy businessman and memorably told: "I just want to say one word to you — just one word — 'plastics.'"

In Cedar Rapids, Seeger had begun experimenting with fusing liquid polyester resin onto acrylic sheets and carving it after his first summer in Scottsdale forced him and his wife to return to Iowa until the desert's notoriously oppressive heat let up.

"We stayed at her family's house," the artist recalls. "I took over the garage and started experimenting. I was a woodworker and found out those same tools would work on acrylic. Adding the polyester added another dimension to it. You could add color dyes to it."

Taking a dozen or so samples of textures and designs in this revolutionary new medium to the Chicago Merchandise Mart, the artist ended up in the Dunbar showroom. "It was like out of a movie — when I would show them my samples, all the receptionists would immediately get me right in to their manager."

The manager at Dunbar made a phone call, then gave Seeger an address, telling him to get a cab and go there immediately, which he did. At his destination, designer after designer was called into the large reception area to see his work. After some back and forth between Scottsdale and Chicago, Seeger landed his first plastics commission — designing and making 29 decorative bulkhead dividers for Boeing 720 jets owned by United Airlines. Every one of the panels was handcrafted by Seeger in an outside closet of that sweltering wooden shack behind the White Hogan.

And who commissioned them? None other than Raymond Loewy, the history-making father of industrial design, who's been variously crowned "the man who designed America" by Life and, most recently by Vanity Fair, the re-inventor of mid-century American consumer culture. Thanks to fashion illustrator-turned-industrial designer Loewy and an army of associates, the world was given, among other instantly recognizable bits of classic Americana, the Lucky Strike cigarette package, the new, more svelte Coca-Cola bottle, the John F. Kennedy memorial postage stamp, the Schick electric razor, the Pepsodent toothbrush, the Sears Coldspot refrigerator, several models of Studebaker, a line of Frigidaire kitchen appliances, the Greyhound bus and logo, and the logos of Shell, Exxon, the U.S. Postal Service, and Nabisco, not to mention the interior living spaces of Saturn I, Saturn V, and Skylab Space Station.

Not bad for an inaugural commission — and there would be many more in the 1960s and '70s from not only prominent local architects, but also nationally acclaimed ones like L.A.-based Welton Beckett, the architect responsible for the Capitol Records Building in Hollywood, UCLA Medical Center, the Beverly Hilton Hotel, Los Angeles Music Center, and Century City, among other L.A. landmarks. In the early '70s, Beckett would also design downtown Phoenix's looming Chase Tower (originally Valley Bank Center), still Arizona's tallest building.

That first commission from Loewy was hefty enough that Seeger, wife, and growing family (he eventually had three children) could comfortably move to 28 West First Avenue, where they occupied living quarters, a workshop area, and his first gallery, the adjoining Seeger's Showroom of Contemporary Crafts.

Out of this showroom, he sold his own wood sculptures and art in plastic, Soleri's early hanging bells, organic pottery, and wind chimes, as well as sculpture and pottery by artist friends like Hawaiian-born Ben Goo and Maurice Grossman. The four of them, along with Lloyd Kiva and Charles Loloma, would be founding members of the Arizona Designer Craftsmen, a group started in June 1959 that still exists today.

Seeger remembers that his gallery always seemed to have sculptures from all over the world for sale, folk carvings, and Mexican stone metates: "I'm proud of that and I don't know how it evolved," he says. He does recall that, in the '60s, a dealer got a load of pre-Columbian artifacts from Mexico through U.S. customs as "decorative items" that Seeger eventually sold in his gallery.

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7 comments
schultzybeckett
schultzybeckett topcommenter

Skoob, a secondhand Aladdin's Cave of a bookshop, located at The Brunswick building between King's Cross and Russell Square is one of my favourites for general fiction and non- fiction. A wonderful selection, with generous opening hours which lead me to believe that only Cockroaches and Skoob will be left standing when the Apocalypse hits.

 http://www.mommyliciousmaternity.com/


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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