Mid-Century Modern

Mid-Century Modern looks a bit like the Jetsons, to me.  Or the wonderful hard-edged advertising that made its way into our sub-conscious in the 50s, 60s and early 70s.  I never really thought of it in terms of my own paintings.

But about a decade ago I was invited to be part of a Mid-Century Modern exhibition in California, and it dawned on me that the casual observations to that connection were more applicable than I had credited them to be.

It’s not outrageous, really.  I am mid-century modern myself, born 4 days before the year 1950, and growing up with all of those images in my mind’s eye.  Even the brief period in which I worked in advertising was in the very early 70s, when the colorful, hard-edged, style ruled.

So, now I am told that “Mid-Century Modern is coming back.”  Along with “the 80s,” a “style” that was lacking even when it was new.  But Mid-Century Modern was never lacking.  It always had appeal.  I just think it’s funny. Ironic funny, not haha funny.

For the last 5 years, I’ve been wondering when people would stop decorating with old dentist signs and horse collars, and start hanging real art again.  I’m sure it’s been wonderful for Chip and Joanna Gaines and Magnolia, and it’s surely been fantastic for all the “pickers” and “upcyclers” out there, but really, a barrel hoop as a focal point is simply not art.  It’s not even decor (a term used derisively by artists).  It’s just a barrel hoop.

Convincing people they can decorate with ANYTHING, is very freeing, and I’m sure it’s been wonderful for many men and women who were scared to do anything outside the box.  But to hear that we are going from rusty highway signs back to Mid-Century Modern is downright thrilling.

It means actual color may come back.  Actual paintings may come back.  Even framed things.   I know it’s empowering to realize that the potato stencils you learned in middle school can be framed and hung in your dining room, but what do they bring?


I’m so obsessed with the value of my work that a sign hangs in my studio that asks me “why should I care? What does it add to anything? where is the value?”  Those are the questions I put to a piece of my own work before it is ready for YOU to see.  Because I believe art adds value to everything around it. Or at least it should.

And that just can’t be said about a rusty barrel hoop.

So, “Mid-Century Modern is the new trend”?? Bring it on!  The sooner the better!

About Carol Joy Shannon

A former sailor of the seven seas, living in my beloved Lowcountry, between the blackwater swamps and the saltmarshes, surrounded by pre-revolutionary history.....thinking about current events....painting dinosaurs and other whimsical animals for children, with the occasional abstract or new cityscape for my delightful collectors. The best thing about being a seasoned old salt is sitting down not running around, so...
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