The Pacific Pinball Mural Program
When engrossed in a whiz-bang game of pinball, you may not take much notice of anything except the score reels. But the next time you get a chance to bat the silver ball around, take a good long look at the “back-glass” artwork. The men who created these 24” X 24” squares of fantasy fun are the unsung artist’s of a bygone age. Roy Parker, Art Stenholm, Gordon Morison, George Molentin, Christian Marche & Dave Christiansen were the kings of pinball art from the 1950’s through the 1970’s. Each has their own unique style; artfully illustrating the characters, images and stories that fully elevate the seemingly simple game of ball and bat, to something much more fun and exciting.
The Pacific Pinball Mural Program was born when local Bay Area artist Dan Fontes reproduced “Majorettes” in large-scale form for the Pacific Pinball Exposition at the Marin County Civic Center in 2007. Since then, professional artists Ed Cassel, d’Arci Bruno and Eric J. Kos joined the mural team, and together they have produced over 30 large-scale interpretations of some of the finest works in pinball history. In August of 2012, the Pacific Pinball Museum’s muralists received a matching grant from the East Bay Community Foundation, a permanent endowment of charitable funds dedicated to improving the human condition in Alameda and Contra Costa counties.
Each mural is hand painted on medium weight quality canvas with artist grade latex paints, and represents hundreds of hours of work. Most measure approximately 10’ X 10’ square, and are priced by the artists. All sale proceeds benefit the artist and the museum. If you are interested in purchasing a mural, or if you need more information, please write to firstname.lastname@example.org
Meet the Muralists!
Dan Fontes is probably best known for his Giraffe murals beneath the 580 Freeway at Oakland Avenue in Oakland. He also painted the Bethany Senior Center mural, San Francisco’s tallest mural, located in the Mission District at 21st & Capp streets and has been painting large outdoor art since 1981. He has worked on dozens of recognized murals in Northern California. His commercial clients include the Federal Reserve Bank of San Francisco, the Port of Oakland. He has received public art commissions from San Francisco, Oakland and Concord, CA. He is the winner of East Bay Express and Bay Guardian newspapers’ Best of the Bay Area awards for murals in six various years. He was nominated for the prestigious Fleishacker Foundation’s Eureka award 2002 and won the 2004 Master Muralist Award from Precita Eyes Mural Art Center.
“Much of my mural art reflects an ongoing interest in history and the humanities. At the same time, my love of pinball and arcade machine has fueled painting these large-scale reproduction works. It’s my feeling that large scanner graphics that have become ubiquitous in our culture will not be held with any type of special reverence as time goes by. By taking the time to paint these under-appreciated pop culture images with time- proven materials, they will act as a sort of time capsule thereby taking these images far into the future and perhaps outliving the actual machines. This amplifies and mirrors the critical importance of establishing a permanent home for coin operated amusement devices and the study of the science behind them by future generations. I also feel it is important to introduce young people to professional quality art materials and techniques as early as possible to demystify art and celebrate art’s life enhancing possibilities. I view painting and murals as a problem-solving vehicle and a great humanizing force.”
See more of Dan’s work at www.danfontes.com.
Ed Cassel has been creating large graphics in the Bay Area for more than 30 years. His public art commissions include the Oakland Main Library and the Mendocino County Courthouse. He’s painted backdrops for theatrical
venues and feature films with Scenic Artists Union Local 816.
Commercial clients have included Tower Records and Pacific Bell.
Ed Cassel and muralist Dan Fontes teamed up to create pictorial art for
Playland- Not-at-the-Beach Museum in El Cerrito.
“If imitation is the sincerest form of flattery, I am proud to pay homage to the originators of the pinball back glass art that these murals are based upon.
The idea of enlarging these works of art is to kindle a new interest
in them via a ‘looking- glass’ effect in which you look at a scene but also experience it directly. We hope to awaken the fond memories of those first played these games and offer new memories for all who encounter
this art for the first time.”
Eric J. Kos
In a near constant effort to keep the world guessing, Eric J. Kos jumps from publisher to painter, from author to advocate from historian to graphic designer and back again. His mural “El Dorado” marks a special opportunity for Eric to rediscover the talent he left behind at Rhode Island School of Design after having entered the world of business. As the owner and lead designer of the Alameda Sun weekly newspaper, Eric had little opportunity to seek out a place to paint. That’s when he met the supportive team of artists at the Pacific Pinball Museum (PPM).
“My mural would not have been possible without the help of Ed Cassel, PPM curator Michael Schiess and of course, original artist Gordon Morison.”
Some might also know Eric’s works on California history. With his trusty writing partner Dennis Evanofsky, Eric has written East Bay Then & Now, San Francisco in Photographs, San Francisco Then & Now and Los Angeles from the Air Then & Now.
“I am proud to be exhibiting alongside such accomplished and professional artists as Dan and Ed. My hope is that my work and every piece of art reminds people that truth comes from multiple viewpoints and that with hard work and the right mindset you can accomplish anything.”
d’Arci Leigh Bruno
d'Arci is an artist with experience in many different areas of art and theatre. Her first commercial job came at age 13, drawing the cover of a Trappers magazine in Washington State. She became interested in theater productions at age 15, and started painting scenery and doing set design, as well as acting. At age 18, d'Arci moved to San Francisco and began painting murals in rooms and gardens of private homes. She has since painted a large-scale mural at the world famous Zeitgeist in San Francisco, designed costumes for the critically acclaimed dance company, Nesting Dolls, and has been commissioned to paint many portraits. In 2008, d'Arci painted a 20'x 20' wind rose for the installation, "Aria" featuring cellist Joan Jeanrenaud and theatrical designer Alessandro Moruzzi, which premiered at the opening of the Bay Area Now festival at Yerba Buena Center for the Arts in May 2008. d'Arci was a recipient of the San Francisco Art Institutes Ivan Majdrakoff Award for outstanding painting in 2007, as well as a merit based scholarship in 2008.
In 2009, she became the Director of the K Gallery @ Rhythmix Cultural Works in Alameda where she curated dozens of successful shows such as “Tommy’s Point”, "Seeing Red" and the popular annual “Mini-Masterpieces”. d’Arci began painting large-scale murals for the PPM (under the tutelage of Ed Cassel) in 2011, and has completed four murals to date: Sea Ray, Slick Chick (with Rosie Morales), Captain Fantastic (with Rosie Morales) and North Star. d’Arci is currently the Interim Executive Director of The Pacific Pinball Museum.
“The first time I saw Ed Cassel’s large-scale, hand painted reproduction of “Wonderland” hanging on the wall at Uptown Body and Fender in 2010, I was hooked! I went around to everybody in the gallery until I found the person (Michael Schiess) that I could talk to who would let me into the mural program as one of the painters. The vintage pinball artwork is so playful, illustrative and graphic! I am in awe of artists such as Christian Marche, Art Stenholm and Gordon Morison. They were so imaginative and current for their day. When I am painting up there on a ladder in the thick of it, it’s like being one of their characters in the back-glass, because you are literally engulfed in the image. Painting these murals is not easy, and the reality is that you paint the entire image at least 3-4 times to get that clean, colorfully opaque quality that you see on the original glass. It is truly a labor of love.”
See more of d'Arci's work: darcibruno.org