Category Archives: Kitsch

Frank Redlinger’s Jazz-Age West

Frank Redlinger - Grand Canyon color block print, 1933.

Frank Redlinger – Grand Canyon color block print, 1933.

I grew up in Scottsdale, Arizona, which bills itself as “The West’s Most Western Town.” Although most of my childhood was epitomized by breezy walks to school (half a block from the house!) and being glued to the TV with a box of Cheerios, the town’s quirky fake-Western character also played a part in my development. Scottsdale was still a fairly small town back in the ’70s, with a main drag characterized by wooden-slatted souvenir shops done up like the set of Gunsmoke and a cutout figure of a lasso-toting cowboy. Back then it was just there, but that filtered, sanitized version of history still influences my work – especially the 4 Color Cowboy tumblr.

While outright kitsch definitely has a place at 4 Color Cowboy, I wanted to use it to find artists, movies, music and other projects that use that iconic Western stuff in a different, thought-provoking way. One such discovery was an artist named Frank Redlinger. After coming across his stuff while browsing through the Heritage Auctions site (fantastic place, by the way), I fell in love with his crude, beautiful landscapes, cowboys and other subjects rendered in wood-block prints. The artist maintained studios in two different places (Abilene, Texas and Los Angeles). The only pieces of his I’ve found date from about 1930-35, when he was in his forties. Simple and bold, they look to be inspired by the California Impressionists and Western movie posters from the silent era. He died in Los Angeles, a few days shy of his 66th birthday, in 1951.

Enjoy this little gallery of Frank Redlinger’s work. More can be seen at Heritage Auctions.

Frank Redlinger - Rainbow Arch block print, 1931.

Frank Redlinger – Rainbow Arch block print, 1931.

Frank Redlinger - On the Prod block print, 1934.

Frank Redlinger – On the Prod block print, 1934.

Frank Redlinger - Untitled block print, early 1930s.

Frank Redlinger – Untitled block print, early 1930s.

Frank Redlinger - Untitled Desert Caravan block print, 1932.

Frank Redlinger – Untitled Desert Caravan block print, 1932.

Frank Redlinger - personal Christmas card, 1932.

Frank Redlinger – personal Christmas card, 1932.

Frank Redlinger - Camelback Mtn. block print, 1932.

Frank Redlinger – Camelback Mtn. block print, 1932.

Frank Redlinger - Action In The Abstract block print, 1933.

Frank Redlinger – Action In The Abstract block print, 1933.

Frank Redlinger - Canyon De Chelly block print, 1931.

Frank Redlinger – Canyon De Chelly block print, 1931.

Frank Redlinger - Untitled Cowboy Being Bucked Off print, 1930s.

Frank Redlinger – Untitled Cowboy Being Bucked Off print, 1930s.

Frank Redlinger - Untitled Grand Canyon block print, early 1930s.

Frank Redlinger – Untitled Grand Canyon block print, early 1930s.

Frank Redlinger - Untitled Yucca Silhouettes block print, early 1930s.

Frank Redlinger – Untitled Yucca Silhouettes block print, early 1930s.

Mattel’s Man in Space

Found, in our twice-weekly trips to the trash alley behind our house: this cardboard box panel from a Major Matt Mason Fireball Space Cannon, manufactured by Mattel in 1968. We tend to find a lot of crazy/weird stuff back there, but a 44 year-old box flap? That’s a first.

Although I’m a firm skeptic on the topic of messages from the Great Beyond, part of me wants to believe that this was some sort of sign from my friend (and Scrubbles.net reader) Brad, who passed away suddenly a year ago. Brad was a huge Major Matt Mason fan who used the MMM logo as his online avatar. Were he still around, I’m sure he would have gotten a big kick out of this find.

Major Matt Mason Space Mission Team activity set, 1960s.

Major Matt Mason frame tray puzzle, 1960s.

Major Matt Mason catalog insert, 1966.

Montgomery Ward’s Major Matt Mason catalog page, 1968

Czech Western Parody: A Brief Guide

Jiri Trnka – The Song of the Prairie (Arie Prerie) (1948)

I’m coming up with some interesting stuff to share at 4 Color Cowboy. The Song of the Prairie, a 1948 Western operetta parody from Czech animator Jiri Trnka, is one of them. A charmingly stylized tale of a cowboy serenading a lovely maiden while the black-hatted villain wreaks havoc, this stop-motion short film is similar in style to the George Pal Puppetoons. The 20-minute film isn’t available on DVD, but it can be viewed here. Even digitized on a computer screen, the animation and character designs amaze.

Although obscure in the U.S., Song of the Prairie is apparently a cherished classic in its homeland (similar, I imagine, to what we feel about the Rankin-Bass animated TV specials). The song warbled by the cowboy in this film became so popular, in fact, that it was reprised in another Czech Western parody, the 1964 live action musical Limonádový Joe aneb Konská Opera, a.k.a. Lemonade Joe. This film has its own adherents, especially considering that its broad, subversive take on Western clichés came along a decade before Mel Brooks’ Blazing Saddles. At 4 Color Cowboy, I assembled a bunch of poster designs that show how Lemonade Joe was sold throughout Europe and in the U.S. Based on the fun, cartoony images on those posters alone, I’d so love to seek this one out.

Learning About Art & Design, 1960 Style

Another swellerific Flickr set – filler cartoons from the index and dictionary of the Famous Artists course, 1960 edition. This particular copy I came across had the student’s name embossed on the cover… which kinda makes me wonder if Alita Knowlton got a chuckle or two from these little gags.

While the book doesn’t credit the artist who did these cartoons, they’re pretty wonderful. I scanned all 30 or so of them for the Flickr set; some highlights are below.

Connie Bennett Shares Her Beauty Regime with You

I remember seeing this short on TCM years ago — ’30s movie queen Constance Bennett demonstrating her morning beauty ritual to the women of America. In Cine-Color, no less.

A Summer Mix: I Just Want To Be Your Friend

This sweet, sticky summer mix has been in the planning for several weeks now, but it seems appropriate to post it today in honor of International Friendship Day. I Just Want To Be Your Friend started out as just another group of songs from albums gotten recently, but the theme kinda grew out of it after noticing that there was more than one “friend” song in the playlist. The mix has a lot of melodic, happy pop (several of which came from CDs bought at the local Goodwill store) which I grouped together in pairs or threes with similar feels. For instance, the 1982 Soft Rock gem “Don’t Talk” by Larry Lee is paired with a tune by Julian Velard, a current musician whose upbeat style draws heavily from the time when the Atari 2600 was hot.

This was a blast to put together and I hope you enjoy it. Bert and Ernie were a no-brainer to feature on the mix cover. By the way, this and the previous three mixes have been uploaded to SendSpace as permanent files. Feel free to check them all out as well:

The download version below is a continuous mix, done as a single 74-minute file. Enjoy the tuneage!

Download I Just Want To Be Your Friend: Scrubbles.net Summer 2012 Mix (64.5 MB Zip file)

Track listing:
1. Electric Light Orchestra — “Confusion” (Discovery, 1979)
2. The Shins — “Simple Song” (Port Of Morrow, 2012)
3. Sambassadeur — “Days” (European, 2010)
4. The School — “Where Does Your Heart Belong?” (Reading Too Much Into Things Like Everything, 2012)
5. Mayer Hawthorne — “Dreaming” (How Do You Do, 2011)
6. Nick DeCaro — “Getting Mighty Crowded” (Italian Graffiti, 1974)
7. Phyllis Hyman — “This Feeling Must Be Love” (You Know How To Love Me, 1979)
8. Howard Melvin & The Blue Notes — “Where Are All My Friends” (To Be True, 1974)
9. Larry Lee — “Don’t Talk” (Marooned, 1982)
10. Julian Velard — “No Wrong” (Mr. Saturday Night, 2011)
11. Acid House Kings — “Are We Lovers Or Are We Friends?” (Music Sounds Better With You, 2011)
12. The Primitives — “Panic” (Echoes And Rhymes, 2012)
13. Linda Lloyd — “I’m Gonna Love That Guy (Like He’s Never Been Loved Before)” (Columbia single, 1964)
14. Jackie DeShannon — “Oh, Boy!” (Breakin’ It Up With The Beatles On Tour, 1964)
15. The Paris Sisters — “All Through The Night” (Gregmark single b-side, 1961)
16. Elvis Presley — “Guitar Man” (Clambake soundtrack, 1967)
17. Punch — “Peace Of Mind” (Punch, 1969)
18. Liz Damon’s Orient Express — “Walkin’ Backwards Down The Road” (Try A Little Tenderness, 1971)
19. The Brady Bunch — “I Just Want To Be Your Friend” (Meet The Brady Bunch, 1972)
20. Ben Folds — “Learn To Live With What You Are” (Supersunnyspeedgraphic EP, 2003)
21. Diana Lee and Jerry Whitman — “I Might Frighten Her Away” (Lost Horizon soundtrack, 1973)
22/23. Bobbie Gentry – “Jessye’ Lisabeth/Refractions” (The Delta Sweete, 1968)
24. Diana Ross – “When We Grow Up” (Free To Be… You And Me soundtrack, 1972)
25. Pearl Bailey – “Best Of Friends” (The Fox And The Hound soundtrack, 1981)
26. Burt Bacharach – “Where Knowledge Ends, Faith Begins” (early ’70s demo recording for Lost Horizon soundtrack)
27. The Tokens – “Some People Sleep” (Both Sides Now, 1970)