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A few years ago, I was rummaging around in my parents' storage locker and found my grandfather's mask collection lying patiently in boxes. I dug further to find his library books consisting of many design and architecture books and several treasures including scrapbooks that meticulously detailed all the facets of his life. As I poured over all these unusual treasures from airplane photos from the war in 1917, to amazing sketches and photos from his fellowship trip around the world in 1922-24, to his Centennial memorabilia, photos, diaries, letters and catalogues, it dawned on me that this man was highly unique, different, and more needed to be uncovered.
The more I looked the more I found, until it also dawned on me that the world needed to catch a glimpse of this true 20th century Renaissance man. George L. Dahl was a student, a teacher, a scholar, an altruist to our city and community. He was a military pilot in WWI, while in the same turn he was playing the role of lover and sending beautifully illustrated notes back to his girl Lillie, who was later to be my grandmother. He was a CEO that built the largest architectural firm in the country at one time and a leader of many people, events and organizations. He was so very well traveled at such a tender age. He was an artist and an amazing one at that. He was an inventor, having invented the first drive-through bank and never patenting it. It led to drive-throughs of all kinds. He had vision, faith, and the ability to carry these forward. Unfortunately I never knew him very well personally. I was quite young and he quite elderly. Yet, I have learned many things through his collections, his passion, and his work.
His architectural body of work has made a huge impact on not only our city's historical heritage, but statewide as well. Fair Park alone is only one of two National Historical landmarks in this city. It is the largest collection of Art Deco buildings in the world. It was only designed to stand for 9 months, yet it is still standing 65 years later. It is one of the anchors to our city's identity and future growth. He designed schools and campuses like UT Austin- 22 buildings out of the 33 that exist. From industrial sectors to Hotels to Corporate headquarters to manufacturing plants. He did not specialize, he diversified. There were government buildings, banks, high rise condos like the Goldcrest on Turtle Creek, and many prominent homes.
My vision is to see a cohesive professional exhibit culminate in "The life and art of George L. Dahl", which highlights all the different roles that he played which is finally exemplified by his collection of masks and his fascination of faces. Thanks to 500 Inc., we have set out a vision for a five year exhibit at the Hall of State, once a year during Artfest, honoring the different facets of his life. We have tried to give you a glimpse into the wealth of interesting collectibles that we have found. I would like to see the restoration and preservation of the original centennial renderings as well as many other collectibles. We have exhibited Giclee reproduction prints because, unfortunately, the originals are in such poor condition and need several thousand dollars for restoration and preservation. Many of his scrapbooks are in great danger of being destroyed and need to be restored and preserved for their historical significance.
We would like support, either physical or financial, to help to make our dream a reality. To see that in the age of technology and impersonal methods of communication, we honor the times of writing letters, of slowing down, of connecting with people and living life to the fullest. Not only will our friends and neighbors get to the see something of a dying art, a dying age, but we also work to preserve pieces of our heritage for our children and our children's children.
Thank you so much for your attention,
With Warmest Regards,
Adrienne Akin Faulkner
President and CEO
Faulkner Design Group, Inc.