Public Art of the Week


I don’t know if you’d call it a mascot, but Weston’s Kewpee Sandwich Shoppe in downtown Lansing has one of the coolest storefront signs, based on the Kewpie comic characters created in 1909 by the late cartoonist Rose O’Neill. O’Neill drew the popular characters for several women’s magazines, and they became an international phenomenon, spawning innumerable copycats and rip-offs since she didn’t copyright them.

By 1912, the Kewpies had been mass-produced as dolls and were likely the first mass-marketed toys. One of the first fun uses of the Kewpie dolls was when they were offered as a prize for games of chance at burgeoning amusement parks. Today, the surviving bisque dolls are expensive collector’s items.

Autumn Weston, the fourth-generation owner of Weston’s, has taken that collecting to a new level. In addition to memorabilia in the downtown Lansing eatery, which celebrates its 100th anniversary next year, Weston has added a Kewpie tattoo to her ankle.

O’Neill was truly one of the greatest women entrepreneurs, and at the time of her death, her estate exceeded $1.4 million.



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