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Vintage Soul

Vintage is in! Artist Jeff Dinardo pulls from a fascination with history and a background in art to create striking vintage signs.

Just inside the entrance to Cotuit Harbor sits a shingled building with a three-story gambrel and tall, stately tower. Behind that, a mansion stands surrounded by elegant evergreens. Excited voices carry from a tearoom on the property where families are enjoying ice cream and fizzy sodas in glass bottles, down to the peaceful shores of the beach, where a long line of bathhouses lead along a boardwalk out to the sand. On the water, sailors bask in the warm sun of a summer day on Cape Cod, and bathers take one last swim before dinner: a home cooked meal. At the entrance to the property, a red sign introduces visitors to Hotel Pines, established in 1894.

Today, Hotel Pines is sadly no longer, but the cherished stories of summers spent along the shores of Cotuit and rooms rented for under $15 a week (including meals, of course) live on. And, the red sign? Well, artist Jeff Dinardo has made sure that memory endures as well.

“I was lucky enough, with the help of the Historical Society of Santuit & Cotuit, to find what the original signage looked like. It was great to bring that back to life,” says Dinardo who recently created a replica of the beloved Hotel Pines sign—weathered to look as if it had truly withstood all the years of trying winter storms and hot summer days that the Cape has undergone since the hotel closed. Dinardo has found a passion in crafting custom, vintage-inspired signs like this one. With a degree in studio art and career as a graphic designer creating children’s textbooks, sign-making gives Dinardo the opportunity to mesh that background with his love for woodworking. “It’s all my interests combined,” he says, “It’s design—finding the perfect typeface; it’s woodworking; and, it’s painting.”

Each of Dinardo’s pieces begins, naturally, with a unique idea. “I love working with clients because it pushes me to do things that I might not have thought of on my own,” says Dinardo, referencing his favorite sign: a timeless design for a company called Bradley Photography where, apart from providing the initial spark, the client pretty much let Dinardo have free creative rein. After the preliminary conception of a sign, Dinardo takes to his computer to put his graphic design skills to work. He chooses the different typefaces and colors, creating a digital layout of the desired sign, and then, he takes that to the client so they can visualize what the final version will look like. “Once they are happy with the early design, I get to work,” explains Dinardo. “I start building the sign out of wood and painting it. Then, it’s time to add that vintage element.”

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