69: Alison King

Categories: 100 Creatives

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Photo by Oscar King. Courtesy of Alison King.

69: Alison King

Alison King is the Founding Editor of Modern Phoenix, an online source for information on Mid-century Modern design in Arizona. She's also a fighter. She's passionate about design preservation -- on her radar right now is the Paolo Soleri Amphitheater, which is set for demolition. She is also a mixed-media artist and Associate Professor of Design at The Art Institute of Phoenix.

More about Alison's battles and inspirations after the jump ...

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Alison King
The demolition of Washburn Piano / Valley National Bank by Varney and Sydnor Architects at 20th Street and Camelback was a huge wakeup call to the Modern Phoenix community. A stucco cell phone store took its place.

1. Name five things on your inspiration wall (real or imagined).

I've tacked things to inspiration walls since I was an angsty teen to keep my imagination active and positively focused. Back then it was lots of Warhol and WPA-era propaganda. Currently I keep an inspiration ledge in my breakfast room -- there are exotic succulent plants, shards of glass from Mountain Bell, a packet of vintage chalk, old lithography plates of industrial machinery, and Blakely glass tumblers -- you know, the kitschy cactus series?

2. What's your last big project?

This summer I'm helping the students and alumni of Santa Fe Indian School to save the Paolo Soleri Amphitheater which is marked for demolition by the tribes who own it. I created some protest graphics for them and hosted a website with all the contact info for officials to write letters of intervention. Since the Save Our Soleri movement started on Facebook, I thought it was important to widen its reach to broader audiences not engaged on that network. Its a pretty complex issue as the tribes are sovereign, but happen to be in possession of this great architectural masterpiece. It may not be an Arizona issue per se, but Soleri is an Arizona treasure and I'm fighting hard to keep his body of built work intact.

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Photograph by Raffaele Elba courtesy of The Cosanti Foundation
The Paolo Soleri Amphitheater is next on Modern Phoenix's watch list.

3. What's your next big project?
I have a huge amount of vintage graphics that I've acquired for the physical Modern Phoenix Archives. I'm sorting through it and planning how to roll it out on the website. People keep asking me when I'm going to write a book, which is a definite possibility, but there is so much to sift through still! This effort is ongoing and pretty much never ends.

4. Why "modern" Phoenix? What is it about this era that captivated
you?

Movies from the 1940s captured my imagination when I was young; I loved the black and white Hitchcock aesthetic, the smartly dressed men and their snappy comebacks in screwball romantic comedies. Something about my soul wanted to be there instead of in the 80s. The more I learned about the era while at school in NYC, it was the optimism in design and totally ridiculous transparency of advertising that hooked me. For Phoenix, this was also a very optimistic age of growth and good times. It shows in the architecture and advertising. I'm uplifted by the Concrete Expressionism you can find all over town.


5. What is something you want Phoenix to know about you? (And, if you
are game, something you don't want Phoenix to know about you.)

I want Phoenix to know that I'm absolutely drop dead serious about Midcentury Modern design preservation and I'm going to use every creative outlet I can to make as much fuss over it for a very long time. I may not be able to personally fight every battle, but I'm going to actively boost those who can. Politicians, policywonks and changemakers are especially encouraged to join the Modern Phoenix Movement.

Don't tell Phoenix what a dorky introvert I am. Teaching college encourages me to have a social life and brings out my twisted sense of humor.

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First Federal Savings and Loan was a swanky cool bank designed by Ralph Haver AIA using concrete hyperbolic paraboloids in Alison's Scottsdale hometown. It has since been demolished. Photo credit HKR

The Creatives, so far:

100. Fausto Fernandez
99. Brian Boner
98. Carol Panaro-Smith
97. Jane Reddin
96. Adam Dumper
95. Mayme Kratz
94. Daniel Tantalean
93. Yuri Artibise
92. Lisa Starry
91. Paul Hoeprich
90. Betsy Schneider
89. Mary Shindell
88: Gabriel Utasi
87: Tiffany Egbert
86. Angela Cazel Jahn
85. Dayvid LeMmon
84. Beatrice Moore
83. Michelle J. Martinez
82. Carrie Bloomston
81. Paul Porter
80. Rachel Bess
79. Karolina Sussland
78. Aaron Abbott
77. Mary Lucking
76. Erin Sotak
75. Greg Esser
74. Matthew Mosher
73. Mark Klett
72. Tony Carrillo
71. Paul Morris
70. Joe Pagac

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