The Zeon Files: Art & Design of Historic Route 66 Signs

Cover of The Zeon Files: Art and Design of Historic Route 66 SignsOn Sunday, April 15, 2018 at 2:00 pm, Mark Childs and Ellen Babcock from UNM will present a collection of historic Route 66–era signs and discuss the working methods of design and construction and the craft of drafting techniques during this innovative era of American sign making.

In the mid-twentieth century Eddie’s Inferno Cocktail Lounge, Bunny Bread, Paris Shoe Shop, and many other businesses throughout New Mexico and the Southwest displayed eye-catching roadside signs created by the Zeon Corporation. These works of commercial art featured unique designs, irregular shapes, dynamic compositions, and neon light. The legendary fiesta dancer at the Albuquerque Terrace Drive-In theater, for example, was well-known for the grace of its lines, its enormous size, and its flashing neon skirt. Created during a time before the simplified icons of major chains, many of these culturally significant artworks no longer exist.

The program will be held at the Albuquerque Museum at 2000 Mountain Rd. NW in Old Town. Parking is free in the lot south of the Museum. Admission to the Museum and the AHS program is also free.

Photo of Mark ChildsMark C. Childs is fascinated by how stories and places shape each other, and dedicated to creating vibrant towns. He is the co-author of the award-winning The Zeon Files and Imagine a City that Remembers (forthcoming), and author of Urban Composition, Squares: a public place design guide, and Parking Spaces. Mark is the associate dean for research and professor at UNM’s School of Architecture and Planning. More than two dozen of Mark’s science fiction poems have been published in the last two years. He serves on the editorial board of the Journal of Urban Design and the University of New Mexico Press.

Photo of Ellen BabcockEllen Babcock draws inspiration from historical landscapes and from a panoply of materials, often scavenged or re-used, for her sculptures, installations and public projects. She is an Associate Professor of Sculpture at the University of New Mexico and the founding director of Friends of the Orphan Signs (FOS) an
organization that places collaboratively produced public art in abandoned road signs. Ellen is co-author with Mark C Childs of The Zeon Files: the Art and Design of Historic Route 66 Signs, which received a New Mexico State Heritage publication award, and an Arizona/New Mexico book award in 2017. The FOS project, Revivir, won a 2013 Americans for the Arts Public Art Year in Review award, and FOS projects have been supported by numerous public and private funding organizations. Ellen is a former New Englander originally transplanted to the desert decades ago, and is now happy to call Albuquerque home.