signs

Glover Park Mural Of Charles Carroll Glover

Do YOU know your neighborhood's namesake? Now everyone in Glover Park is aware of Charles Carroll Glover thanks to this mural celebrating his efforts to help make DC the livable city that we've all come to love. Been to the Nat'l Zoo? Glover helped make it a reality. Ever seen the splendor of the National Cathedral? The first meeting to discuss such a concept was in his living room! Think Rock Creek Park is a treasure? Well, Glover lobbied congress to set aside this land for all to enjoy. Pretty incredible guy and I thought his merits should be shared with all. The mural, made possible with a grant from the DC Commission on the Arts and Humanities, also describes the neighborhood's vibrancy and flavor with a kid and his dog - both of which you'll see plenty of as you walk the streets of Glover Park!


And what a time it was...

The Final Product

Pearson's Wine and Liquor...  A family owned business established in 1933 when "Doc" Eisenberg bought Pearson's Pharmacy on Wisconsin Avenue in Washington, DC.  At the time, alcohol was sold only by PRESCRIPTION because it was during prohibition.  When booze became legal again (whew) liquor sales overtook the small neighborhood pharmacy.  So Doc, and his wife Sarah, opened Pearson's Liquor Annex - the Pearson's we know of today.  The drugstore is now a gas station!

Steve Silver, and his wife Rae (daughter of "Doc"), began running the store when Doc retired.  I knew Doc as his caretaker would bring him by in the mornings for a short time.  He could barely walk and I never heard him speak.  He must have felt at home there.

One day Steve showed me a page from a magazine, he had carried it around for a while, and wondered if I could "replicate" the look of this advertisement on the facade of Pearson's.  It was a challenge indeed.  A large wall for me to do my thing - public art.  The year was 2001.  We all remember where we were on September 11, 2001...  It was a beautiful morning and I was on the scaffold just doing my thing when Rae came out and thought it best that I go home.  Little did I know at that time that this day would forever change all of our lives forever.

Pearson's
Pearson's

There was much work and planning to be done.  Old signs and marques had to be removed with a crane, prime and paint the entire facade before I even got to lay a brush on the surface. Days went by and I worked on occasionally being summoned down to discuss the work at hand.  I loved speaking with passersby, many my neighbors, and it enriched the entire experience.  Of course, Steve and Rae were great to work with day in and day out.  I got to know them so well, good, honest people running a family business - it doesn't get more real than that.

Well, here we are 13 years later, and it still stands as one of my favorite pieces that I have created.  Thanks go to Steve and Rae for believing in me and giving me the opportunity to do what I love to do.  Enjoy.

To improve the quality of the day, that is the highest of arts.  ~ Thoreau

Angelico La Pizzeria New Neon

Bill's pizza

Mustafa Misirci, owner of Angelico La Pizzeria, attended a conference of small business owners. One of the speakers mentioned that a store should be "refreshed" every three years to stimulate the interest of the customer... That's where I came in! I had just finished up the Max's Best Ice Cream project and I was eager to share the images with ANYONE willing to look. It was just then that I received a call from Mustafa saying it was time to spruce up the place. Angelico La Pizzeria is a returning customer so I had to give it my all.

At the meeting we discussed a variety of ideas and I plugged hard for the addition of a neon sign. Turns out I didn't need to because he was already considering just that! He wanted his logo in the window in neon. Now, while his logo is attractive, I thought it could be punched up by adding a pizza rather that the red oval that encompassed the name ANGELICO. Mustafa was dubious, afraid it would be too busy. I went out on a limb and offered to design AND paint MY version for free. If he wasn't pleased we could always paint over it with a solid red. More on that later...

After transposing the logo to paper, I travelled out to see my neon guy, Bill Miller, to get his feedback. He thought the pattern was fine but explained that, for him, it needed to all be backwards! Turns out they create these things with all the letters flat - returns, etc need to be behind the visible neon. Love to learn new stuff. Bill is truly a craftsman and was eager to show me the beautiful pizzeria he created. If you ever get a chance to see these folks at work definitely do it and remember, like many things in this life, IT'S WAY MORE DIFFICULT than it looks. I left Bill to his work as I had things to do myself.

So, back to the board. Start with cutting it out. The shape had to be just right to accommodate the neon being created. Too small or too big and I'd need to do it again. I took my time remembering a saying I love - WHY IS THERE NEVER ENOUGH TIME TO DO IT RIGHT THE FIRST TIME BUT ALWAYS ENOUGH TIME TO DO IT AGAIN?

Cut and primed it was time to start the fun part (actually, all of it is fun - If you have a job that you love, you never WORK a day in your life!) by painting in the details. I began with "la pizzeria" and after some hours I found my efforts good. Then a call from Bill, "Neon is ready!"

For the pizza pie oval I decided that to simplify the design and stay away from a cluttered look I would stick with a pepperoni 'za. After a little sketching it was time to pull out the trusty airbrush! This proved to be the right way to go as it softened the image and did not detract from the text. I snapped a photo, texted it to Mustafa, and received a thumbs up! Whew! I really liked the look and definitely did NOT want to cover it all up with a solid RED.

After carefully installing the neon (another fun part I'll have you know) it was time to try it out. It's like a Dr. Frankenstein moment - IT'S ALIVE! IT'S ALIVE!

Along with a helping hand from Mustafa I installed the piece and the smile on his face could not be wiped away - he said it was beautiful. For me, making others dreams come true is just about the best thing in the world. I wrapped the glass with printed vinyl promoting his fare and called it a day.

So, looking back to that conference he attended, he did as was suggested and we "spruced up" the facade of Angelico La Pizzeria in Tenleytown, Washington, D.C.. By the way, the pizza is DELICIOUS there. The signs may draw you in but the food will keep you coming back!

To improve the quality of the day, that is the highest of arts. - Henry David Thoreau

Max's Best Ice Cream Lives On

maxs-best-11

It was, after 20 years, give or take a few days, the end of a Glover Park landmark - MAX'S BEST ICE CREAM. Max, and his wife Marsha, ran a true "mom & pop" store (yes, in THIS century) that was maybe as well know for it's photos as it's delicious ice cream. I don't know exactly how it started, but apparently they began taking photos of the customers who came in to enjoy a special treat. These photos ended up as collages of hundreds of smiling faces. Not only youngsters I'll have you know. Included there too was Al Gore, Joe Biden, Former Secretary of State James Baker, Former Secretary of State Madeline Albright, Former Attorney General Janet Reno and tennis player Andre Agassi and others! Among Max's avid customers were Laurie Stongin and Allen Goldberg. They would take the boys in for ice cream and they'd stick around to converse with Max and Marsha. They, along with so many others were saddened to discover that Max would be closing his doors. Allen and Laurie wanted to somehow, in some way, keep the spirit of Max's Ice Cream alive and, in the end, they succeeded.

They later explained to me it was an awkward moment... They believed that welcoming warm glow of the neon sign that hung in the window could SOMEHOW be saved. They mustered up the courage to inquire what Max was planning to do with the sign. After finding out he had no plan they tactfully asked if they could buy it from him. Max refused any money but asked them to "give it a good home". That's where I came in!

Laurie, a friend and neighbor, asked me to come by to take a look to see if I had any ideas. I had a true love and recent curiosity about neon though I had never ventured into that world - here was my chance. Allen, Laurie and I worked together to design the sign's new look. We used all but two pieces of the neon that Allen and his son, Jack, had carefully disassembled in the store. With the help of Bill Miller, a man of forty plus years in the business, we learned how to go about the technical aspect of the final product.

The piece would have a retro feel with a painted board behind it. After I applied appropriate retro colors I took a palm sander to it to really age it along but not past it's prime! Max's Best Ice Cream opened in 1992 so I hand painted "Since 1992" in the bottom right hand corner. Laurie and Allen have indeed given it a good home as it brightens their day, and their neighbors walking by, as it hangs proudly in their living room right above the couch. Max's Best Ice Cream lives on!