Twins With Different Art Styles

The McKee twins seemed to move natu­rally, each into their own style of art. I asked those who knew them what they remem­bered about them at the time that they both worked in San Fran­cisco at Land­phere Asso­ciates. The memo­ries from several Land­phere artists reported the McKee brothers were very close and a family member said that they even built a house together, which is a very different situ­a­tion where conflicts can be common.
Both Don and Ron McKee sensed as early as the 3rd grade at the John T. Hartman grade school in Kansas City, Missouri, that they wanted to make “Art” their career. Later, after grad­u­ating from South­west High in 1949, Don and Ron attended one year at The Univer­sity of Kansas City and one year at the Kansas City Art Insti­tute and then attended the Amer­ican Academy of Art in Chicago. Both twins were drafted into the U.S. Army for two years. As the Korean War ended, after completing basic training, Don and Ron spent the rest of their two‐​year career in the Army designing and silk screening recruiting posters for the Sixth Army at The Presidio, located near the Golden Gate Bridge.

Ron McKee After the mili­tary service, Ron was a top grad­uate of Art Center College in southern Cali­fornia. Working as an illus­trator in Detroit, San Fran­cisco, New York and Los Angeles, Ron has provided art for Ford, GM, Chrysler, Arco, 3M, Readers Digest, Universal Studios and Mattel Toys, among others. He produced paint­ings for the Irvine Company for the “Newport Coast Exhibit” picturing their luxury housing devel­op­ment.
During the few years that Ron worked at Landphere’s, Ron had this fresh and easy style when illus­trating sleek auto­mo­biles.

In contrast, this brochure for the new $21 million Crocker Plaza required Ron to accu­rately illus­trate and dramat­i­cally empha­size the 38‐​story struc­ture to be completed in 1968. (I am including all of the pages of the brochure to show that this was a very large building for a skyline so different from today’s. The brochure was meant to be turned, to view the pages hori­zon­tally and verti­cally. (I do not have the infor­ma­tion to credit the agency and others involved in its produc­tion.) Following in the gallery are illus­tra­tions that were presented in various annual exhi­bi­tions :

In 1970 Ron McKee moved to work in the Los Angeles area. Now his paint­ings are marketed directly through numerous shows and select galleries.

Don McKee After the mili­tary service, Don was hired by Max Land­phere Asso­ciates (then at 215 Kearny Street) as a graphic designer. He produced ads and brochures for adver­tising agen­cies and direct clients.
Here are just some exam­ples from 1958, all eight were presented in San Francisco’s10th Annual Art Direc­tors Exhi­bi­tion :

By 1960 while at Land­phere Asso­ciates, Don had devel­oped a new concept in greeting cards, called “Cube Cards” as you see below.

Don, for a time, had his own graphic studio at 901 Broadway and when Max Land­phere retired, Don moved back to the Land­phere loca­tion (then on Gold Street) and he named it : “Artworks”. By 1973 he employed as many as 40 artists. In his many years as a successful graphic artist Don devel­oped an “art path” uniquely his own and he empow­ered others to multiply their own artistic talents. Don also created a selec­tion of regular greeting cards and with a move of his office and studio to San Rafael, Cali­fornia : he renamed his company “Joy Crafters”.
(Note, for accu­racy, I have “lifted” parts of para­gaphs from the biogra­phies of Ron and Don and these two photos of the twins were the only ones that I found.)
I’ve noticed that most siblings, who are close in age, compete. As chil­dren, the rivalry can be in many areas of accom­plish­ments as they mature. When the chal­lenge was drawing, my sister and I made a pact. I would not draw fashion and she would not draw cartoons. There was, then, no compe­ti­tion.
Ann Thompson