ONYX Letterhead

During the late 1960s, a group of young designers, artists and architects began a conversation that resulted in broadsheets, drawings, exhibits and other design related work. Their intent was to find others who shared their enthusiasm for diversity and an eclectic appreciation of that diversity. They called their collective effort ONYX. This site reviews of some of the art, drawings, photos, models and design work they created and some of their work since the first broadsheets appeared; it brings ONYX up to date as its story is filled in.

As they began to pursue their careers as artists and architects they pulled back from the publications. They continued to develop their ideas, occasionally showing work in competitions and galleries and using some of the techniques they had developed to illustrate the work of other architects and designers.

The participants, real, imagined, here, there, and sometimes elsewhere were: 

Charles Albatross, Davis Allen, Bux (Bob Buxbaum), Harvey Grapefruit, Mike Hinge, Okra Plantz, Tommy Simpson, Woody Rainey, Patrick Redson, Jack Wells and Ron Williams.

Woody Rainey recalls the sequence of broadsheets as follows: Black and Yellow, the Calendar, 28 hour day postcard, Electronyx B&W, the Williams/Redson B & W, and last, the Energy Certificate. The 28 Hour day postcard is missing.


The first ONYX broadsheet was mailed to friends, acquaintances, people who might be interested and plastered on walls around the SOHO neighborhood of New York City. The images on the upper half of the sheet hinted at the 6 Foot House projects and the Daily Earth Chronicle by Ron Williams and Patrick Redson and on the lower section, a house project by Woody Rainey. The projects were in development and the beginning of a conversation about the practical limits of architectural space. The sheet was 22" x 34", printed in extremely dark green on glossy yellow stock.


Woody Rainey's calendar based on the sleeping habits of Thomas Alva Edison.

Here's his description of The Calendar:

In the first ONYX Year, each week consists of six 28 hour days (6x28 = 7x24). Using seasonal quadrants as the basis of the layout, this calendar displays a full year beginning on the Spring Equinox of 1969. Woody realized on moving to NYC from Utah that his reliance on the daylight/darkness cycle had been altered. In NYC, activities are independent from sunlight. While Official Clocks record 24 hour days, a NYC work/sleep cycle seems to extend to about 28 hours. With the proposed change, on Day 1, one could work late, play a little and then sleep until rested, rising the next day around noon. As the pattern continues, on Day 2, one might have lunch in the late afternoon and dinner in the middle of the night. All aspects of darkness and daylight are experienced within a four day (40 hour) work week and a six day calendar week.


The B & W broadsheet

B&W broadsheet by Woody Rainey explores a mirrored, asymmetric layout as social and political conditions overlap speculative architectural discussion. THE RULE stands between the new whole earth photo and the personal architecture of the roll around "reference point" measured by a robo man. Pen and Ink mages of Susanah York deadpan the idealised speculation of geometry compared with the manifest horror of real life at war. Attempts at synthesizing Louis Sullivan decoration crown further views of the Cube Insideout House as compared to the mostly two dimensional Pentagon.


The second Williams/Redson broadsheet illustrated the Daily Earth Chronicle, the Head Start Monument, pattern studies (with the ellipses), a Mike Hinge robot portrait and a Woody Rainey spiral study. The other images were randomly assembled to maximize the use of paper space and in horror vaqui. Hand colored copies exist. Preoccupation with certain insects was a recognition of the larger non human population of New York City. The sheet was 24" x 36" printed by offset on white cover stock.


The Energy Certificate (Sex & Money)

In anticipation of a long trip west, Woody Rainey used ubiquitous currency graphics to diagram an Energy Certificate with implied monetary value. The broadsheet printed in money green ink on Tyvek®, is filled with references to the trip. The pen and ink eye sees a Volkswagen and dancers climb granite boulders. The world map, composed on an unfolded truncated icosahedron seeks to enhance mapping techniques and marks only Utah. A house for a married couple with uniquely different interests takes its name from a Utah based music/art/farm collective. An owl by Jack Wells balances Ron Williams' tube chair and another study of Sullivan decoration reminds Rainey of his childhood. 


Mike Hinge Parsec City

The late Mike Hinge worked with Ron Williams at Donald Deskey Associates designing graphics for exhibits the Deskey organization designed for the U.S. Information Service. His interests outside of work were futuristic and the outlet for his ideas was science fiction. He did many magazine and book covers for SciFi writers and publishers as well as for national publications like Time Magazine

© Ronald Williams & Woody Rainey 2012