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329 West 18th Street Suite #610
Chicago, Illinois 60616
(312) 243-1808

Goldsholl and Janiak Design Films Slated for Preservation

CFA is happy to announce that the National Film Preservation Foundation has awarded CFA another grant to photo-chemically preserve four more films from the archives.  FACES AND FORTUNES, DISINTEGRATIONS LINE #1, DISINTEGRATION LINE #2, and ADAM’S FILM all reflect the influence of the “American Bauhaus” movement introduced by Laszlo Moholy-Nagy during the late 30s/early 40s in Chicago.  Designer and filmmaker team Morton and Millie Goldsholl were students at the School of Design in the 40s.  The impact Moholy-Nagy had on them was immediate and concrete.  The couple moved their already successful design studio to a larger space in Northfield, IL and added a film department that was headed up by Millie.  Larry Janiak was one of their first employees at their film studio.

These four films are early and stellar expressions of the midcentury Bauhaus influence in Chicago.

FACES AND FORTUNES was created as a filmic treatise on “corporate identity” for Kimberly-Clark Corporation. This film explores the legacy and importance of “personality” or branding of industries, organizations and companies. As you can see in these stills, the remaining prints of FACES AND FORTUNES are extremely color-faded. This NFPF grant gives us the opportunity to color correct this 16mm film back to its original glory. By Morton and Millie Goldsholl

ADAM’S FILM isa visual film collage experiment.  Live action images are combined with abstract images and textures that were chemically generated directly onto the 16mm film.  By Lawrence Janiak

DISINTEGRATION LINE #1 (DL1) is chemically generated visual variations produced directly onto 16mm film.  By Lawrence Janiak

DISINTEGRATION LINE #2 (DL2) is an optically printed full color randomly animated texture field image film.  By Lawrence Janiak

We are so pleased to have this opportunity to preserve modernist titles in our collections.  To date CFA has sheperded the photo-chemical and digital preservation of 91 Chicago and Midwest films with the support of the National Film Preservation Foundation, the Women’s Film Preservation Fund, The Gaylord and Dorothy Donnelley Foundation and the National Endowment for the Arts.  We plan to keep this number growing in order to create a complex and nuanced portrait of our region for generations to come.

More on Janiak’s films here

CFA Acquires 3 Films by Larry Janiak

For the past few months we have been gathering information about the Chicago-based design firm Goldsholl Design & Film Associates for our upcoming program MEET MORT & MILLIE (Sunday, April 7th at the Chicago Cultural Center). Former employess of the firm turned out to be some of our best sources – Susan Keig, Wayne Boyer and last but not least, Larry Janiak.

When speaking recently with Larry he decided CFA would be a good home for the prints and elements of three of his experimental films - DISINTEGRATION LINE #1 (DL1) (1960s), DISINTEGRATION LINE #2 (DL2) (1960s) and ADAM’S FILM (1963)…. And we couldn’t be more delighted!

A Chicago native, Larry studied at the Institute of Design at I.I.T. and the Art Institute of Chicago. He worked for the Richard Kliedon Animation Studio in Chicago from 1956 to 1959 and was employed by Morton Goldsholl Design & Film Associates before and after being drafted into the U.S. Army from 1962 to 1964. Here, Janiak was a creative force in the design firm’s film department.

His military service consisted of work as art director at the educational television station of the U.S. Army Signal Corps Signal School and Communication Research Center at Fort Monmouth, New Jersey. Janiak taught design animation and experimental filmmaking at the Institute of Design at the Illinois Institute of Technology from 1968 to 1980 and has belonged to the Vivekananda Vedanta Society of Chicago since 1965. Janiak has created several films for the Vedanta Society including a 1965 documentary of Hale House. (bio courtesy of the University of Illinois at Chicago’s Special Collections)

2 stills from DISINTEGRATION LINE #1 (1960s)

Now back to Janiak’s donated films: DL1 & DL2 are both direct animation films. DL1 (which is screening this Sunday at MEET MORT & MILLIE !!) is primarily black & white and silent, while DL2 is color with sound. Both films were made using the same technique- by applying lithographic blackout, or touche, to unprocessed black and white film stock and then shocking these strips of 16mm film into tanks of cold water, fixer, hot water, developer and then repeating the process. Janiak then carefully washed the remaining chemical residue off of the strips, hung them up to dry on his mother’s clothes line (!) and then arranged them into what he called “interesting sequences.” The back and forth chemical processing was repeated many times to build up an abstract and fully random pattern.

For DL2, Janiak went a step further and optically printed the film through various pieces of color gels, carefully labeling each color and repeating them at various speeds. Lastly, he added a Gamelan soundtrack to the piece. The result, according to Chicago filmmaker and writer Fred Camper, “creates dynamic and surprising clashes between percussive sounds and loops and circles.” Janiak’s strong connection with the Vivekananda Vedanta Society of Chicago adds further dimension to these two particular films. In a recent interview with CFA, Janiak stated, “The abstract animation field textures subtly depict the infinitesimal nuclei of energy called Tanmatra, a moving field of aggregates of atoms and cosmic motion called the dance of Shiva.  This full field abstract animation is produced by the Brownian motion effect.”

2 stills from ADAM’S FILM (1963)

For ADAM’S FILM (1963) Janiak mixed the chemically generated visual variations seen in DL1 & DL2 with live action footage of an early Chicago Earth Day parade and a Janiak family gathering, resulting in what Fred Camper describes as “an enigmatic combination of personal family images and dynamic shapes.” Cine-File Chicago‘s Doug McLaren goes further by stating, “Janiak displays an instinctive command of his techniques, an assuredness of process rivaled only by Pat O’Neill.” Larry  just humbly refers to this film as a “sketch” shot on a 16mm camera that he had recently purchased from downtown Chicago’s Central Camera.

CFA is delighted to add these three films to our collections at 329 West 18th Street. Along with the 2011 donation of JoAnn Elam’s films, Janiak’s films add to our growing collection of locally produced experimental films. AND, DON’T FORGET. . . be sure to check out DISINTEGRATION LINE #1 on the big screen at this Sunday’s MEET MORT & MILLIE program !!

Meet Our Panelists!

For this year’s Out of the Vault program, MEET MORT & MILLIE, we’ve gathered an exciting batch of people to help shed light on the industrial films of Goldsoll Design & Film Associates.

But before we get to our panelists, let’s first meet our moderator- Amy Beste! Amy recently authored a chapter on the Goldsholls in Chicago Makes Modern: How Creative Minds Changed Society, and deserves a ton of credit for spearheading our effort in what we like to call “Goldsholl outreach,” or re-introducing audiences to the work and films of Goldsoll Design & Film Associates. Amy is a recent PhD graduate of Northwestern University and the current director of public programming for the department of Film, Video & New Media at the School of the Art Institute of Chicago where she organizes the visiting artist series ‘Conversations at the Edge’ at the Gene Siskel Film Center.

And now for our panelists (in no particular order). First up, Susan Keig.

Susan Keig (from Communication Arts, 1971)

Susan Jackson Keig is an internationally recognized art designer in private practice, who at the current age of 94 (!), still manages her Chicago-based design practice. Susan once headed the Design Department at Goldsholl Design & Film Associates. Here, Susan worked for such clients as Lyons & Canahan, Scotts Foresman and Company, Evanston Hospital, Chicago Children’s Memorial Hospital and Simpson Lee Paper Company, among others. Some of her design projects include an LP record and album for Buckminster Fuller, a medallion from the Free Congress Foundation for Margaret Thatcher, and the Clare Booth Luce medallion from the Heritage Foundation for Ronald Reagan. Along with her more commercially-oriented clients, she also worked with Audiobon wildlife sanctuary and with the restoration at Shakertown at Pleasant Hill, Kentucky in exploring the environment by design that was a lifestyle for Shakers (she’s also a leading authority on Shakers!).

Susan Keig designed Album cover for a recording of Buckminster Fuller’s address to the Society of Typographic Arts

Susan is a Fellow and past-president of the Society of Typographic Arts/American Center for Design, and has lectured at Yale University, Heritage of the Arts SUNY and the School of the Art Institute of Chicago. She taught at the Institute of Design, Illinois Institute of Technology in Chicago, has had one-woman exhibits in Louisville and New York, and is a Distinguished Alumna of the UK College of Fine Arts.

Next up is panelist Wayne Boyer. Wayne attended the Illinois Institute of Design both as a bachelor and graduate student and is now a Professor Emeritus at University of Illinois at Chicago. Boyer states that when he arrived at the ID in 1955, “all of the film equipment was in storage and there was no one to teach it. But that was OK because of the experimental nature of the curriculum, where you were encouraged to combine media. This is what stimulated us.”

For many years, Boyer worked at Goldsholl Design & Film Associates where he worked closely with former ID classmate Larry Janiak (not sure why he’s not pictured above?!). The two were encouraged to apply their ID experimentation of Bahaus ethos to the firm’s advertising and industrial films. At Goldsholl & Associates, Wayne worked with clients such as Kimberly Clark, Chicago & North Western Railway, Champion Papers, Karolton Envelope Company and Inland Steel Company, among others. Boyer is also known for his 1975 film The Building: Chicago Stock Exchange (1975), which we screened during our 2007 BIG PICTURE series.

LEFT: Karolton Envelope Company “Envelope Jive” RIGHT: Kimberly-Clark Corporation “Kleenex X-Periments: Sneeze”

Our third and final panelist is Victor Margolin. Victor is Professor Emeritus of Design History at University of Illinois at Chicago and the first person in the United States to receive a PhD in design history. He began teaching Art & Design History at UIC in 1982 and soon after joined with small group of colleagues to found the academic design journal, Design Issues. Victor has written numerous articles on local design history, including an insightful look at African-American designer Tom Miller, who worked at Goldsholl Design & Film Associates for over thirty years (“African-American Designers in Chicago: Some Preliminary Findings,” AIGA Journal of Graphic Design 10 no. 1 (2000)). A wealth of his academic writings and personal musings can be found over on Victor’s website.

A Spotlight on Mort & Millie Goldsholl

Full cover and spine of CHICAGO MAKES MODERN

At the turn of the new year, University of Chicago Press and the School of the Art Institute of Chicago published the anthology Chicago Makes Modern: How Creative Minds Changed Society. This much-needed scholarship, co-edited by Mary Jane Jacob (School of the Art Institute of Chicago) & Jacquelyn Baas (University of California Berkley Art Museum & Pacific Film Archive), looks at Chicago’s connection to the twentieth-century modernist movement and discusses how and why the Windy City continues to drive the modern world. More specifically, it looks at the key Chicago figures or innovators entrenched in modernism, from “the radical social and artistic perspectives implemented by Jane Addams, John Dewey, and Buckminster Fuller to the avant-garde designs of László Moholy-Nagy and Mies van der Rohe.”

The chapter titled “Designers in Film: Goldsholl Associates, the Avant-Garde, and MidcenturyAdvertising Films” shines light on the Chicagoans, Morton (Mort) and Millie Goldsholl. Here, Amy Beste (School of the Art Institute of Chicago) looks at the Goldsholls’ relation to the Bauhaus-inspired School of Design and the industrial films that came out of their design firm, Goldsholl Design Associates. Chicago Film Archives acquired the fascinating film collection of Mort and Millie Goldsholl back in 2012. The Mort & Millie Goldsholl Collection consists of commercials and industrial films that Goldsholl Design Associates made for their clients, experimental films and animations made by both Mort and Millie, unedited travel films shot by Mort and Millie and films (primarily animated) that the two collected over the years.

The industrial films within this collection played a significant role in Beste’s Goldsholl scholarship, some of the first on the two. Beste describes these particular films as “playful, constructivist collages, stylized graphic animation, and dazzling light displays.” From the time the Goldsholls began making films in the late 1950s through the 1980s, their work reached millions of viewers in conference rooms, living rooms, and film festivals across the country. But, as Beste proclaims, “In spite of their importance to design, film advertising and regional history the Goldsholls are virtually unknown today.”

With the help of Beste’s scholarship, we here at CFA hope to correct this omission in design history by reintroducing audiences to the innovative films that Mort & Millie made and collected over the years. In fact, a Goldsholl screening is currently in the works (more details TBA). In the mean time, you can view an interview with Millie Goldsholl and a selection of her films, here.

Millie Goldsholl (1920-2012)

Chicago artist and experimental filmmaker Millie Goldsholl passed away yesterday at 92 years old. Her films are among our favorites here at CFA. An early student of the Chicago School of Design (now IIT), Millie created films that are expressions of Maholy Nagy’s vision of industry, art and design. They are playful, human and profound all at once. The same thing, of course, can be said of Millie. We are so honored and feel richer that her films are among our collections.

Here is Millie talking about the School of Design (taken from a 2007 interview between Millie and CFA’s Executive Director, Nancy Watrous).

And here are a few of our favorite films of Millie’s (all found in CFA’s Mort & Millie Goldsholl Collection):

UP IS DOWN (1969)
A short animated film that presents a study of an unconventional young boy who is temporarily persuaded to accept others’ viewpoints as his own.


Dedicated to the men, women and children of Mars, this fantastical animation uses the simplest of elements: solid backgrounds, block letters, and a length of metal chain. The creatures created are the kind of strange and other-worldly beings that thrive only in children’s dreams and play.


Karolton Envelope “ENVELOPE JIVE” (1963)
A sponsored film made by Mort & Millie Goldsholl (of Chicago’s Morton Goldsholl Associates) for Karolton Envelope Company, a division of Kimberly-Clark. Morton & Millie Goldsholl ran Morton Goldsholl Associates, one of Chicago’s leading graphic design studios in the 1950s. The studio became recognized for their animations, progressive hiring practices and developing corporate branding packages for various companies.