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Review of Dream Machines: The Inventions of R.G. Martelet
By Alan G. Artner
Tribune art critic
Published January 20, 2006

R. G. Martelet was for 30 years a designer for Sears Roebuck & Co. who turned his talents to everything from boats and go carts to camping lanterns and faucets, all characterized by the futuristic look that has come to mean "mid-century modern." A number of Martelet's drawings--primarily for boats and land vehicles--make up a satisfying little show at the ArchiTech Gallery.

Beauty and precision of rendering may obscure an issue central to the artist' s achievement: These are not drawings of cars and motorboats; they are designs for them. So they propose to solve various problems, such as how a boat may be transported over land without a trailer or an elaborate automobile hookup.

Martelet gives various solutions in drawings on colored papers that are in themselves seductive art objects, though the problem-solving nature of the work is essential to each effort and should never be lost sight of. Several of the objects on view were built and sold through the Sears catalog.

However, more of them were not, which, in effect, makes the drawings space-age fantasies marked by aerodynamic streamlining. Were they not for practical, functional objects, one might even think of them as props for science fiction, which--as Martelet does with a design for an automobile--frequently has seen the future in the forms of the past.

At 730 N. Franklin St., 312-475-1290


David Jameson
ArchiTech Gallery
730 North Franklin suite 200
Chicago, IL 60610

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