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Tuesday, September 2, 2014

Behind The Print: Desoto Motel

In May of 2013, my wife and I were driving in the Southern Tier along the Pennsylvania border. We hadn't planned on going to Olean. If you know us, or you're AAA, you well know that we usually don't plan on anything. Soon we found ourselves touring the city and finding the aged neon signs and midcentury architecture engaging. It appears that sometime around the middle of the last century, Olean was flush with cash, saw a building boom, and then the boom went buss. As the floods of fortune ebbed, gems like the DeSoto Motel were left to bear witness to a better time.


Aficianados of mid century design, we were immediately struck by the DeSoto, which sits down the street from St. Bonaventure University. Not quite in a state of disrepair, as it has only been vacant a few years, it is definitely showing the wear and tear of a life unloved. The postcard photo to the right shows the motel in happier times.

There is hope for the DeSoto. It was bought by a Buffalo firm known for turning around neglected architectural gems.

The photo at left is my first attempt at the print. The print suffered from a number of problems, not least of all was poor registration. I also wasn't happy with the neon red color or the solid yellow. I think I was being over-influenced by Ed Ruscha's screenprints at the time. A drawing class and a rededication to the art of woodcut printmaking put me back on track for what eventually became "DeSoto Motel."

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