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Marty McGee, Buffalo’s own “Rocketman”

Palm Springs expo – Artifacts of the Future
A Palm Springs Story with Buffalo Roots

Marty McGee, the guy who rallied to get a Nikola Tesla sculpture designed, sculpted, and erected in downtown Buffalo, has been featured in Atomic Ranch magazine for his love and knowledge of Space Age-era furniture and objects. I’ve seen some of McGee’s personal collection of Space Age toys, clocks, lamps, furniture, etc., and can honestly say that Buffalo is lucky to have such an expert on the subject in our midst.

McGee is not just a collector, he’s someone who lives the lifestyle. When he vacations, he travels to cities that boast “Jetsonian” heritage. He’s also always on the hunt for elusive retro modernist articles that inspired a generation fascinated by mankind’s travel into space, and pushbutton technology.

Hallwalls exhibit 2004

Aside from being a local retro expert (including Tiki culture), McGee also sells vintage wares at The Peddler Flea Market (on Elmwood) and Funky Town Vintage. McGee also takes the show on the road – for example, he presented part of his collection in Palm Springs at the Artifacts of the Future expo in 2019. He has also exhibited locally, at CooCoo U and Hallwalls, among other places.

CooCoo U show in 2013
Bell Rocketman at 1964 World’s Fair

Were you born in Buffalo? If not where are you from?

I was born at Children’s Hospital on Bryant St.

Brian Eno’s “No Pussyfooting” album

How did you get so into Space Age?

When I was growing up in the 60’s the Bell “rocketman*” and the Jetsons must have had an impact on me.  Of course the Space Race was a huge influence too. Really the album cover artwork of an Eno album I saw a long time ago and a B&W photo of architect Richard Neutra’s Lovell House, designed and built 1927-1929. When I saw it and noted the date I was amazed. How could something from then look like the future of Now? It looked like a scene from the Jetsons. I think I saw that photo for the first time in 1990. That was the beginning of my interest in the world of futuristic prescient designs. It was the trigger point.

*A jetpack resides at the State University of New York at Buffalo’s Department of Industrial and Systems Engineering.[2]

If you could have any one Space Age object, what would it be?

The Futuro House without question. It’s the ultimate Holy Grail of Space Age collecting. Stayed in one in Wisconsin for a week in 2015… by myself to feel the vibe – like being a time traveller.

The Futuro House – photo by Marty McGee

What’s the trick to collecting?

Trick? I look for things that reflect the Space Age gestalt that benefits from research and analysis of the period.

I sometimes discover overlooked things, but as with any movement, once enough people get interested it becomes harder to secure good pieces.

Marty’s wife Junko sitting at the kiosk entrance of the Palm Springs show

Can you tell me a little about your book? When was it published? Where was it published?

I have some copies left of my book/catalog from my Artifacts of the Future exhibit, the 2019 Palm Springs Modernism Week exhibit I did.  I designed and published it myself with the help of a few photographers and graphic artist, Alma Jimenez.


“Marty understands and celebrates this era better than anyone I know. I love his book!!!”Peter Moruzzi

Explore the pivotal period between the Atomic Age and the Information Age; when science fiction became reality and designers made reality of imagination. The seismic shift of modern and postmodern still reverberates today.

Artifacts of the Future: Design in the Space Age 1957-1972 ($30 including domestic shipping)

  • Revised 2020 edition
  • Spiral bound hardcover 11″ x 7.5″
  • Special die-cut cover feature
  • 50 heavy weight pages
  • Profusely illustrated mostly in color
  • Forward by Sven Kirsten, author of Tiki Modern
  • Historical timeline

Purchase book

The book is also available at Thin Ice on Elmwood and Old Editions bookshop on Oliver St. in North Tonawanda.

Follow Artifacts of the Future on Facebook

Lead image: Photo by Alma Jimenez

Written by queenseyes

queenseyes

Newell Nussbaumer is 'queenseyes' - Eyes of the Queen City and Founder of Buffalo Rising. Co-founder Elmwood Avenue Festival of the Arts. Co-founder Powder Keg Festival that built the world's largest ice maze (Guinness Book of World Records). Instigator behind Emerald Beach at the Erie Basin Marina. Co-created Flurrious! winter festival. Co-creator of Rusty Chain Beer. Instigator behind Saturday Artisan Market (SAM) at Canalside, Buffalo Porchfest, and Paint vs. Paint. Founder of The Peddler retro and vintage market on Elmwood. Instigator behind Liberty Hound @ Canalside. Throws The Witches Ball at Statler City, the Hertel Alley Street Art Festival, and The Flutterby Festival.

Contact Newell Nussbaumer | Newell@BuffaloRising.com

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