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Midcentury modern Austin was ready for its close-up

A second photographic exhibit of iconic local works is on display

Black and while photo of a mid-mod lobby
Villa Capri Lobby, June 1959, DM-59-26061
Austin History Center, Austin Public Library

Austin can’t get enough midcentury modern everything: furniture, fashion, architecture, art, and accoutrements. That’s understandable; it’s fun and fabulous and can be enjoyed via nostalgia, irony, sincere aesthetic appreciation, or some combination.

Luckily for enthusiasts, there are currently two photographic exhibits depicting midcentury Austin at its finest on display. One, currently mounted at AIA Austin and produced in collaboration with Austin History Center, focuses on the work of local firm Fehr & Granger, which did some of the most important private and public local design of the era.

Opening Tuesday evening David Earl Holt Gallery at the Austin History Center is a second take on the period. “Austin at Mid-Century: Photographs by Dewey Mears” will display some of the work of Mears, who is generally acknowledged as the city’s premier architectural photographer of the time. The History Center has just completed the cataloging of his photographic archive.

Mears—who, like many creative types before and after, was born in the Texas panhandle and drifted to Austin after initial professional forays in Lubbock and nearby Levelland—took iconic shots of the work of most of the architects and builders working in Austin in the mid-1950s and 1960s. The most prominent local firms represented in the collection include Fehr & Granger, Page Southerland Page; and Jessen Jessen Millhouse and Greeven. He also documented a great deal of residential work, including that of notable designers such as Roland Gomel Roessner and Arthur Dallas (A.D.) Stenger.

An informal opening reception on Tuesday is co-hosted by APL Night Crafters, who will teach visitors how to make their own mid-century inspired mobile. Librarians from APL’s pop-up library will have books on mid-century modern art and architecture available to check out. The exhibit will be up through Jan. 14, 2018.

Midcentury modern masters’ iconic works show at AIA Austin [Curbed Austin]