Gifts of the Gods

Mary Blair, detail, Thunder Mesa study, 1970

When you are a designer of any kind, interior, graphic, industrial, whatever, you receive really awful gifts. This sounds horrible and ungrateful. It’s the gifts your parents, grandparents, and cousins give you. We’ve all been in the situation when you’re given a lovely gift wrapped in the “cool” wrapping paper from the Container Store. When you discover it’s a remarkably over-designed swoopy lady-shaped wine corkscrew in lime green, you must express surprise and incredible happiness. It’s assumed that, as a designer, you must like the groovy designed things. I bypass this problem by telling my family to focus on gifts of cactus and American flags.

I did, however, receive one of my best gifts for my birthday this year. The Disney Gallery at Disneyland is holding an exhibition of Mary Blair. The studies for the lost attraction, Thunder Mesa, are truly genius. And the renderings for the Grand Canyon Concourse tiles are possibly the best color palette ever conceived. These two birthday gifts are now in my kitchen. I considered putting them downstairs in the rumpus room so they wouldn’t fade. That would be no fun. And that’s a bad path. Soon I will be closing all the blinds, draping furniture, and storing art in a dark space, like my grandparents.


Mary Blair, Thunder Mesa study, 1969

Mary Blair, detail, Grand Canyon Concourse study, 1969

Mary Blair, detail, Grand Canyon Concourse study, 1969

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One Response to “Gifts of the Gods”

  1. Joe Marsh Says:

    Sean! Thank you so much for posting this! Ha ha. You know I’m a Blair fan as well. I wish I was in the SoCal area to be able to see the exhibition. I love the colors in the pieces you received for your birthday, especially the Thunder Mesa study, it really pops on that wall!