At the invitation of Lloyd Kiva, in 1962, Seeger moved kit and caboodle to Kiva's well-known Fifth Avenue Craft Center, the vortex of Scottsdale art activity at that time. Be they room dividers, free-standing partitions, furniture, illuminated panels, dangling curtains or screens for commercial or residential use, his colorful, carved plastic constructions were in huge demand.

"Nobody ever did that kind of stuff," Seeger says. "I did a lot of that," actually forging a lucrative career as an artist, a remarkable feat at the time.

Here in the Valley, he created decorative pieces for hotels and restaurants, Elizabeth Arden's Maine Chance, the downtown Goldwater's fur salon, and the Pepsi-Cola Business Management Institute building, as well as and modular murals for businesses, including American Republic Insurance Company.

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."

Details

One of his first local projects was the window decorations at Phoenix's newly opened Green Acres Mortuary and Cemetery. Eventually, he would also create work for homebuilding giant Kaufman and Broad, the latter of which is Eli Broad, the famous art collector, patron, and founding chairman of L.A.'s Museum of Contemporary Art.

Seeger is still amazed by the constant stream of famous politicians, dignitaries, and celebrities who flowed through his place. U.S. Supreme Court Justice Sandra Day O'Connor, then a practicing attorney, was a Saturday regular, and Barry Goldwater was known to come in. At various times, Seeger met and chatted with Indira Gandhi, Rock Hudson, Maurice Chevalier, Dinah Shore, Liberace, Dick Van Dyke, Vincent Price, and Reggie Jackson. And who could ever forget meeting Ava Gardner?

The Dick Seeger Design Gallery revved into overdrive, showing not only Seeger's latest work, like decorative mobiles, coasters, trivets, and candleholders, but that of an expanding stable of artists from the Southwest. The artist had his own designs in a slew of upper-end American department stores, including New York's Bloomingdales, Dallas' Neiman Marcus, Bullocks stores in California, Chicago's Marshall Field, and Saks Fifth Avenue stores around the country.

In 1968, Monsanto magazine did a cover feature on his work in an issue also spotlighting stewardesses in white go-go boots and flip hairdos. In it, Seeger's "Accents" — custom-created, translucent plastic shapes in eye-popping colors strung together with nylon filament — and his other carved plastic objects were hailed as creating a serious new art medium; of course, the chemical giant happened to be the source of critical components used in making polyester resins.

Monsanto noted that free-spirited Seeger wasn't cowed by clients: "His clients . . . know that Seeger will take no dictation from them. He does not even show preliminary sketches, insisting that if the client doesn't like the finished job, he'd rather do it over. So far, he has never had to." At this point, the artist was also writing down "thoughts," pithy sayings or profound observations that would pop into his head on a regular basis, transforming them into paintings displayed on the gallery walls.

Those unending thoughts mutated into another entire line of artwork — hand-lettered or painted text capturing his philosophical musings.

Long before computer graphics allowed artists to crank out Photoshopped text with a few strokes on a keyboard, Seeger was laboriously painting and lettering his "thoughts" in a bewildering array of typefaces.

In 1974, Arizona Highways devoted three pages to Seeger's "thought capsules," as they described the work, noting that a variety of his art pieces in different media were on permanent display at the new Elaine Horwitch Gallery, 42 Marshall Way. His "Book of Thoughts" about art, love, and architecture was available as three suites of 90 cards each, and later in book form as Sightwithinsight (1974) and I've been thinking (1976).

Everything old is inevitably new again — and that applies to interest in Dick Seeger's mid-20th-century work, resurrected by the recent mania for retro vintage and Midcentury Modern design and décor.

In 2008, Seeger became the subject of The Seeger Studio 1957-1962: Desert Modern in Scottsdale, Arizona, a book authored by Dave Hampton, in which the Scottsdale artist is elevated to the status of an American modernist master who pioneered the use of plastic in art. Hampton discovered Seeger during his search for information about the work of the late Jack Boyd, a highly regarded San Diego sculptor and jeweler working in the '50s and '60s.

Hampton, also the curator of "San Diego's Craft Revolution From Post-War Modern to California Design," which soon will open at the Mingei International Museum in San Diego on October 16, is unequivocal in his assessment of Seeger's role in Midcentury Modern design.

"For me, Dick Seeger is the trifecta," says Hampton. "He knew all these other artists, carried and sold their work in his gallery, and he's obviously a completely mad collector. He's right there in the middle of things; at the same time, he never got the museum-style or national recognition that, say, Freda Koblick of San Francisco, who also worked in plastic, did.

"Regionally, he carried so many artists — he knew everybody in New Mexico, Arizona, and California — and he was in a lot of regional shows . . . I don't think he cared that much about trying to submit his work for museum shows or invitational showings. He didn't push his work that way because he kind of had it all sewn up. He was such a big deal, the way people remember his gallery; he was the only place in town to combine these really major talents and to put his own work there."

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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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