A stylish new exhibition blasting back to the nifty '50s, "At Home With Ozzie and Harriet: Mid-Century Design," opens this weekend at the Scottsdale Museum of Contemporary Art. Built around a recent museum gift of period dinnerware, the collection details the decade when, thanks to the advent of air conditioning and affordable housing, the Valley -- and America -- took suburban shape.
"Although [the exhibition] is not exclusively about Phoenix, there is a lot that is homegrown," says guest curator Debbe Goldstein, a former professor of art history and design ethics and a veteran of DreamWorks' animation department. She points, in particular, to "Little Susie," a 1959 turquoise El Camino on loan from a local collector.
"The El Camino, I thought, was just a really good example of what somebody in Arizona would have had in the '50s . . . a hybrid for somebody who's living in the desert: not quite a car, not quite a truck," Goldstein explains. "So rather than getting, like, a '57 Chevy, which is probably what people would expect to see in a show like this, I got something that was . . . closer to home."
Susie's aren't the only fenders in the exhibition; the collection also boasts a '54 Fender guitar from the manufacturer's museum in California. Other "Ozzie and Harriet" highlights: mass-produced furnishings from Herman Miller Inc., Russell Wright ceramics, vintage appliances, and pop culture memorabilia, such as Barbie dolls, a View-Master and sci-fi movie posters. While a 1950s timeline details each year's local and national events, video blurbs sample scenes from the era's commercials, The Today Show and, naturally, The Adventures of Ozzie and Harriet.