Mesa Preservation Foundation Rocks!

We recently returned from a fabulous road trip canvasing Arizona and Southern California, primarily focused on the legendary Route 66! I’ve devoted several blogs to our adventures on #66, and now I’d like to give you an update on the amazing work being done by a group called the Mesa Preservation Foundation. This group did not exist until a cherished animated neon sign at The Starlight Motel on Main Street (the old Apache Trail) smashed to the ground on October 5, 2010 in a severe wind storm. (I photographed the sign in 2005 and featured the painting that ensued in my solo exhibition at WAAM in 2007).

When the sign was destroyed, Bob Patel, the motel owner said that he couldn’t afford to restore it, despite the public outcry about its demise. His insurance wouldn’t cover the huge expense, and there were also considerations regarding new sign ordinances which no longer allow flashing lights (the girls lit up as they were descending).

But this sign was beloved by too may to let it die – fans, led by Vic Linoff (local historian) formed the Mesa Preservation Foundation which has taken on the challenge of raising the $100,000 required to rebuild this beacon from the past. The original cost was $65,000 but now as the sign is nearing completion, the actual cost has come in much higher. They currently have about $30,000 still to raise.

The original 78′ tall sign was designed by the late artist Stanley Russon in 1960 and built by Paul Millet, who worked at the time for Guerrero-Lindsey Sign Co. “Paul was a master of neon. You don’t look at people like that as a sign maker. They’re artists”, said Vic Linoff. The restoration is being done by Scott Houston, an associate of Millet protegé Larry Graham. It took Houston five weeks of painstaking work to restore one of the graceful ladies. He built a new head for her and distressed it a bit to “make it look old”. She has been painted with the original colors, using the same color neon tubes as well. One quirky touch is the modern addition of an on/off switch in her belly button – ode to a belly button piercing! He has installed a new aluminum infrastructure to make the sign lighter and stronger than the original sheet metal. Happily, Hunt Construction and Abel Steel have donated the installation of the new $12,000 custom-made pole that the letters “M-O-T-E-L” currently stand on. Each of the newly restored letters is 6 1/2′ tall!

We cheered as we drove by the sign, resurrected this far – still awaiting the graceful ladies to be added at the final ceremony. We had a great meeting with Vic and his fellow board member Barbara Meyerson on a bright, sunny Saturday morning in their Mesa office. My proposal to them to help them reach their final fundraising goal: people can contribute to the sign restoration AND get a beautiful signed, limited edition giclee print of my painting “Diving Girls”! The print size is 19 x 25″ (the image centered and 13 x 19″) on Hahnemühle Photo Rag 308. The cost is $275 with $100 being donated directly to the Mesa Preservation Foundation.

If you would like to have a print of the “Diving Girls” hanging on your wall, go to this link: http://vanishingroadside.com/about/new-projects/
and press the paypal button. I will ship your print asap and send off a check to the MPF for $100. Please also send me an email confirmation of your mailing address to maryanne@webjogger.net.

If you would like to donate directly to the foundation their address is:  PO Box 539, Mesa, AZ 85211 and make a note on the check that the money is for the diving lady project.

Kudos to Vic, Barbara and their fellow board members who have worked so hard to help preserve these amazing beacons from the past! We so appreciate your efforts!


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