When I was a kid I'd eagerly look forward to the Sunday paper's edition of Arthur Radebaugh's comic strip Closer Than We Think
. So many gadgets and gizmos we now take for granted [personal computers, e-mail, cellular phones, microwaves, etc. etc. etc.
] were presented in an idealistic, visionary manner.
The strip ran for about four years, after which it disappeared entirely. Radebaugh was a commercial illustrator who worked for companies as diverse as Chrysler and Coca-Cola. He was based in Detroit from the 1930s to 1960s. Much of his work anticipated design revolutions in the automotive and other industries. He once described his work as “halfway between science fiction and designs for modern living
Radebaugh was clearly ahead of his time in how he saw the march of technological progress. For some, his vision quite likely freightened them. Others, clearly saw the clarity of his vision as achievable.
There were other aspects of his life that hold a true ring; parts that are certainly less glamorous, such as the fact that during the last years of his life he grew ill and had to sell off his home, his inventive vehicles [like his mobile studio
and most of his possessions] to pay even part of his medical expenses. [not unlike the Bushco medical care plans pushed nowadays
His sleek art deco style renditons of cities and modes of transport no doubt influenced a lot of the conceptual design shown off at the World of Tomorrow
as envisioned at the 1940 World's Fair in New York City.
Much of his creative efforts were lost for years. Now a group of curators including Jared Rosenbaum, Todd Kimmell and Rachel Mackow, have been working at gathering, cataloging and producing a sharable website and collection of R's work at the Palace of Culture
, a virtual museum dedicated to imaginary futures. The "Palace" team envisions putting together a range of exhibitions depiction those futures, "...from failed utopian movements to speculative pop art and science fiction...