Sunday, October 11, 2009

when architects were like baseball players...



in 1962, the topps company, manufacturer of baseball cards and bazooka bubble gum, created a "non-sport" bubble gum card set called famous americans, featuring numerous personalities from american history. one of the stranger inclusions was a card featuring frank lloyd wright.

it is easy to imagine kids coveting a sandy koufax or a mickey mantle, and perhaps even a card with someone like george washington; but i would imagine when a kid, in 1962, opened a pack of bubble gum cards and discovered a card with frank lloyd wright on it, he simply sighed, and thought "huh?"...

seeing as every young boy has dreamt of one day seeing himself on a baseball card, i kind of feel sorry for wright, as the set containing his image hit the dime stores and newsstands 3 years after he'd died.

at one point, maybe 8-10 years ago, the topps company began to sell their own archive of original art for numerous sports and non-sport sets. having been a voracious card collector when i was a kid, i was constantly watching to see what they might pull out and sell, hoping to win a piece of art of some sacred collected object i had as a kid. unfortunately not much from that era came out, and most of what did, was insanely expensive.

while it came from a set that was released a few years before i was born, i was intrigued by the wright art, because i believe he was the only architect to ever appear on a bubble gum card; but because there are a ton of folks who collect wright related ephemera, i couldn't imagine being able to buy it... i figured it would sell for crazy money.

fortunately, the bubble gum card collecting community had little love for architects, and not another soul was interested; and so, i managed to win it for a song.

the artwork, and the card which was eventually printed from it, is a rare object, merging bubble gum, baseball cards, and architecture. it is a kind of collision two of my childhood and post-childhood ( i would hesitate to use the word "adult") obsessions. the funny thing is that if i had been born a few years earlier, and was old enough to be buying baseball cards in 1962, i can imagine opening a pack of gum cards expecting to see a ballplayer, and pulling out this card with wright on it, and caring more about the piece of bubble gum...

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Blogger Christine White said...

Hi Steve,

My name is Christine White - I am studying sonic arts composition at Victoria University in Wellington, New Zealand. I have thoroughly enjoyed following your work (which began with researching sounding architecture); and i refer to your sites often. Thanks for your playfulness, engagement with the world and inspirations.

12:26 AM  

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