Signs of the Times - June 2013 - (Page 6)

ST UPDATE By Steve Aus t News for a broader perspective The Lady Dives Again In 1958, brothers Elmo and Richard Kaesler migrated from Syracuse, KS to Mesa, AZ and opened the Starlite Motel. To attract motorists to stay at the Starlite, they built a pool. Two years later, they wisely chose to tell the world about it with an iconic sign. Artist Stanley Russon designed a neon sign with a bathing beauty diving towards the ground, and Paul Millet fabricated the 78-ft.-tall spectacular. Over half a century, it’s estimated that, having plunged six times per minute, the lady made more than six million dives. Her plummets ended on October 5, 2010, when a ferocious hailstorm blew through and decimated the sign. The tubing was destroyed, and numerous metal pieces were twisted and hurled to the ground. Thankfully, the Mesa Preservation Foundation appreciated the Starlite’s Diving Lady (the motel remains in operation) and worked diligently to raise the $120,000 required to restore her to glory. The organization also obtained the variance required for the sign’s removal, renovation and reinstallation. The Foundation hired 6 SIGNS OF THE TIMES / JUNE 2013 / Larry Graham and his local shop, Mesa’s Graham’s Neon and Electric Sign Specialists, to perform the job; Graham learned the tubebending trade under Millet’s tutelage. They worked on the sign over the course of approximately three years, Graham said, as funding for the project became available. On April 2, the Diving Lady was officially unveiled by city officials to the enjoyment of hundreds of cheering onlookers. “This project has helped the community gain a greater appreciation of what historic preservation is all about,” Vic Linoff, president of the Mesa Preservation Foundation, said. The Foundation also took a leading role in collaborating with the city to restore the sign. According to Gordon Sheffield, Mesa’s zoning and civilhearing administrator, they received a special-use sign permit for the reconstruction of the Diving Lady as part of a comprehensive sign plan. The Foundation documented the sign from an artistic and historic perspective, and the city’s Board of Adjustment agreed that the project served the public interest. With an eye towards preserving dozens of additional, historic, neon signs throughout Mesa, the city is considering an ordinance similar to Tucson’s, which actively seeks to preserve historic signage. Doug Towne, a Phoenix resident and editor of the Society for Commercial Archaeology’s (SCA) newsletter, reflected on the cultural impact of historic signage: “When the SCA was founded in 1976, neon signs were considered garish and unworthy of saving by the traditional, historicpreservation community. However, what was once deemed ‘bubble-gum architecture’ is now appreciated by Americans from many backgrounds.” “It was gratifying to see a community come together to restore a major part of our history,” Mesa Mayor Scott Smith said. “That’s what signs are all about; they not only tell us where to go, but also who we are.”

Table of Contents for the Digital Edition of Signs of the Times - June 2013

Signs of the Times - June 2013
ST Update
Tech Update
Profiling Media for Purpose
Vinyl Apps
Strictly Electric
LED Update
Software Update
Technology Review
Technology Review
Sign Museum News
New Products
Enter ST’s 7th Annual Vehicle Graphics Contest!
The Reality of Your Surroundings
The Great ’scapes
Digital Printers at ISA
It’s a Jungle in Here
Advertising Index
Editorially Speaking

Signs of the Times - June 2013