Natalie Pellolio recently graduated with her doctoral degree in Art & Art History from Stanford University. She lives in Oakland, California.


California Kitsch Made Concrete

Dinosaurs, designed by Claude Bell, along California's Interstate 10, Cabazon, circa 1993

The California myth is perhaps most overt in the so-called “programmatic” or novelty roadside architecture of the early twentieth century, the massive plaster animals and igloo-shaped buildings that line the freeways, beckoning passersby to stop for a photo-op or a snow cone on a hot day. These attractions are the focus of the recent reprint of Jim Heimann’s California Crazy: American Pop Architecture, a survey of fantastic buildings designed to look, for example, like the gigantic dappled donut perched atop a small donut shop in Inglewood, or the dinosaurs that famously roam the I-10 en route to Palm Desert. Such buildings make the city in their image, a spectacular playground dreamed up by entrepreneurs with a penchant for plaster.