Commemorative painting on a round metal plaque — perhaps intended to be used as a sign — presented by the United States Air Force on the occasion of the Long Island Fair: 1960 Science-Industry Exhibition. The fair was held at Roosevelt Raceway in Westbury. It was part traditional agricultural county fair and part showcase for Long Island's emerging aerospace industry. The plaque has an illustration of the fairground with a Ferris wheel and striped tents beneath a starry nighttime sky that serves as a backdrop for futuristic representations of planets, a bright orange burning comet, and a floating atom with orbiting electrons. A test tube holding an atom hovers in the foreground. These symbolized advanced "Space Age" industry and technology at a time when the Cold War era space race initiated in large part by the Russian launch of the Sputnik satellite was accelerating.
The fair name is painted just within the raised curled edge of the plaque. Within the sky are the words "orbit" and "Plaque presented by United States Air Force." On the back is imprinted "Presented by United States Air Force/ prepared by Orientation Group Wright-Patterson Air Force Base/ Dayton, Ohio." The plaque appears to be a unique hand-painted item rather than a printed multiple. It is rendered with an airbrush, some linear brushwork, and hand lettering. All were skills commonly mastered by commercial artists of the period. Indeed the painter who signed the work might have been a staff artist for the Air Force. It may be presumed that missiles lent for presentation at the fair were connected with the United States Air Force and relate to their presentation of the offered plaque.
The Long Island Business News described the October 1960 fair in a retrospective 2003 article as a "nine-day extravaganza" with "hundreds of industrial 'space-age' exhibits, plus symposiums, award ceremonies, town meetings and panel discussions." It also featured a “Miss Out-of-this-World” beauty contest, and visits from celebrities and politicians including Governor Nelson Rockefeller, Senator John F. Kennedy and Robert Moses. An ad for the fair contains a long list of featured entertainment, from comedian Buddy Hackett and actress Gloria Swanson to "Nassau-Suffolk's 2,000,000th Citizen." The transition of Long Island's economy from predominately agricultural to include high technology and defense industries was captured by a publicity photo with the odd juxtaposition of a young woman in a straw hat, short shorts, and high heels milking a cow in front of a gleaming Nike Ajax missile, which is in the collection of the Harry Ransom Center (see References).
Condition: Generally fine with the usual overall light wear, handling, oxidation.
"Advertisement: The Long Island Fair." The Patchogue Advance. 6 October 1960. p. 2. Online at NYS Historic Newspapers: http://nyshistoricnewspapers.org/lccn/sn86071739/1960-10-06/ed-1/seq-28.pdf (18 March 2016).
"Beauty, Bovine and Ballistics." New York Journal American Photographic Morgue. 21 July 1960. Online at Harry Ransom Center:http://norman.hrc.utexas.edu/nyjadc/ItemDetails.cfm?id=948 (17 March 2016).
LIBN Staff. "1960: Moving from moos to missiles." Long Island Business News. 31 January 2003. http://libn.com/2003/01/31/1960-moving-from-moos-to-missiles/ (17 March 2016).