The Past And The Last Geezer Gathering?

In those days, when I started free‐lancing as a commer­cial artist, I found that San Fran­cisco usually did not reach out to the east or to the LA area. The cool­ness of this area made it a printing center from the very early days. I found, that all of the various services that were needed for adver­tising in the 1940s to the1970s pretty well kept to the tight group of talents within the SF Bay Area. This was before the national delivery services. Local deliv­eries were often by walking. “Aero Delivery” bicy­cles were for local rush jobs and a run to the US Post Office before closing time with pack­ages of art was the way to the outside world. Some Illus­tra­tors did mail their finished art to Chicago, NYC, and even Cleve­land. Even TV commer­cials were created here, as at Imag­i­na­tion, Inc. on Kearny Street where I had a summer job as a cell‐painter for Stan­dard Oil commer­cial.

A lot of friend­ships grew in clubs: the Art Direc­tors and Artists of San Fran­cisco, the SF Society of Illus­tra­tors, the San Fran­cisco Copywriter’s Club, ASMP (the Amer­ican Society of Media Photog­ra­phers) and APA (Amer­ican Photog­ra­phers of America). There was also in 1958 the Society of Designers and Illus­tra­tors (that was before my time). On any street, down­town, you’d see a person that you knew – as our “Madison Ave.” was spread all around down­town San Fran­cisco.

Sales­per­sons in the trade, knew most of the players in our industry. There were Paper Reps, Typog­raphy Reps, Printing Reps, Art Studio Reps, Art Supply Reps – – Art Flax would make personal visits.

Murray Hunt repre­sented Spartan Typog­ra­phers. Spartan’s owner, Jim McGlynn, had been to the Haas’sche Schrift­giesserei (Haas Type Foundry) of München­stein, Switzer­land and brought back the new 1957 type font – Helvetica –exclu­sive to their shop in Oakland. The type became a huge favorite – and still is –as we are using it here on this site. Murray would call on several designers in the Jackson Square area and soon there were a number of them at “Clown Alley” at lunch. (Favorite restau­rants are listed in an earlier post.) San Fran­cisco felt like “a very small ad town”, then.

The self‐employed artists person­ally met most all of the ad agency art direc­tors and the various other agency personnel. In art studios, the sales persons for the studios usually were the ones who called on the clients and art direc­tors in agen­cies – unless the artist needed to meet for direct discus­sions.

There was also foot‐traffic, after‐hours. There were no in‐house copy machines, no stat machines.
Top illus­tra­tors would often person­ally carry their art to the various photo‐stat shops. Their support team may have left for the day and an urgent call to Copy Cats or Copy Service would keep the doors open and that stat crew waiting. (Copy Service’s, Jim Faulkner – I still owe him a drink, after all these years.) Some indi­vidual studios had a Camera Lucinda, a “Luci’“ projector for late hours or weekend work. But that was a slow process for calcu­lating size changes in prelim­i­nary work. When two art studios combined, I asked for the extra Art‐O‐Graph. I borrowed my mother’s car‐with‐hatch‐back and took it away. We found our “lucI” a great asset at home, even when we already had early Apple computers. Yes, we could enlarge images on the computer screen but not up to 14”x17” paper or as enlarge­ment of smaller “thumb‐nails” to be reflected onto illus­tra­tion board for tradi­tional, painted, finished art.

Unlike email, tele­phone contacts brought out a lot of the person­al­i­ties of both parties. Without the avail­ability of “attach­ments by email” there was the walk outside to deliver and show the work – in‐ progress, discuss and make noted adjust­ments to the job – – and possibly time it for a lunch nearby where the others with our same inter­ests, lunched.

The close working rela­tion­ships within the city – – is the reason that the GEEZERS are such tight friends, even after all these years. I found that school reunions are a wide mix if inter­ests, when fellow students go into so many different occu­pa­tions. Our Geezer reunions have locked in the same persons with the same (graphic arts) trade so all the past recol­lec­tions are familiar to many. Now (still 200 strong) we do contact our Geezers by gang‐email, announcing art gallery shows, personal announce­ments and a yearly gath­ering, a picnic.

Our yearly GEEZER reunions were always in early October when the weather is usually cool. Although, the very first Gath­ering was on July 31,1993 at the Buechert prop­erty in Petaluma CA. Bob Buechert and a hand full of ad types (I don’t remember who we all, were) planned the event. Several lists from each of us were put together for mailing. We never again had such a large atten­dance. Please see the 1993 photo at the bottom of the Gath­ering list, at left on this site. (I counted 90 in the photo and then added Dick Moore who took the photo from up on the water tower and a few who might have been still at the food tables and where some “classic” cars were parked – so maybe 100?) This happened to be a weekend of the Bohemian Grove encamp­ment. Declining RSVPs came to us from their artist members. (Begin­ning in 1872, Bohemian Club meet­ings were only of jour­nal­ists, artists and musi­cians.)

Now in 2018 (to bring a full circle of the 20 picnics that followed) we were happy this year, to have guests: Arlene and Courtney Buechert. This year’s picnic was the last gath­ering to be held in this Corte Madera Town Park. The park wants the space in September and October for the young soccer teams. It has only been conve­nient to a small portion of our Geezers. So I am hoping that the in the future we can find multiple free and conve­nient loca­tions.

On October 3rd, rain was possible. The Bay Area had been dry since May, but the night before our picnic it rained heavily at 10pm. Even with that, we emailed that we would be there at the park to see who could show up. At 11am, we were ready with umbrella at hand, and then the gang appeared:

Email to us after the picnic was so very kind in the thanks to us. Here is just one:
The photos are so nice, it was a lovely day and we had a nice time. Thanks also for all you have done to keep the adver­tising folks in touch with each other, that is no small task and you have made a really inter­esting group cohe­sive and together.
Four of them noted:
“Thanks for sending. Who in the hell is that old man with the long hair? I just got it cut, can we re‐shoot?”
“Very sneaky. I had no idea that I was subject matter!”
“Hi Ann, thanks for the photos. We’re certainly looking geezerish.”
“Look forward to seeing the group pix. And somehow attending another Geezer’s picnic some­where!!”
 — — —

Yes, some­where.
Ann Thompson

And Best to you Ann Thompson from all the Geezers past and present.
XO Piet Halber­stadt

Bill Shields

We have previ­ously posted collec­tions of Willi Baum and Dick Moore and most recently, some of Earl Thollander’s Chinese cooking illus­tra­tions.

Here is a showing of Bill Shield’s commer­cial art from the years: 1961 to 1975

Now, exam­ples of his fine art (with views of his workspace‐easel with art in progress).

Bill and family lived on Pine Street in San Fran­cisco. In time, by re‐building the home, it became the “Artists Inn” – with warm B&B hospi­tality and it was deco­rated with Bill’s paint­ings.
Bill also remod­eled the building at the rear of their prop­erty. It was Bill’s studio and orig­i­nally had spaces for other artists. Later, it also became an addi­tion to the inn that welcomed visi­tors to San Fran­cisco.

Show 3‐Artists Inn 1, 2 & 3

Ann Thompson

The 4 Caballeros (Part 2)

1962 The San Fran­cisco Exam­iner PICTORIAL LIVING. When three of the four artists returned to San Fran­cisco, their sketches inspired paint­ings. The San Fran­cisco Examiner’s head­line “How Six Bay Eyes Saw Mexico” did not include the fourth artist, Willi Baum. Because at that time, Willi was back in Mexico, in San Miguel, where he was designing a mural there. So Willi was not shown in the photo with the Examiner’s story.

Sept/Oct 1962 Commu­ni­cating Arts Maga­zine
Here also, are six pages showing the art and it includes the written comments from the artists. (The sketch that you see at the bottom of each page was a fifteen‐foot long, 360‐degree drawing that Earl Thol­lander made as he viewed the complete row of build­ings surrounding the open square where the artists were sketching.

On November 7, 1962, there was an exhi­bi­tion of sketches and paint­ings that were a result of the trip. It was held at the Art Unlim­ited Gallery in San Fran­cisco. The gallery was accessed from the ground floor and then a strait stair­case down to a base­ment. Willi had recently returned from San Miguel, but on the night of the gallery show, he appeared in a wheel­chair at the top of the long flight of stairs. The crowd showed concern about Willi’s condi­tion and worried how he planned to get to the lower level. Then, following his plan in “making an entrance” he stood up from the wheel­chair and casu­ally descended the stairs!
Not long after that occa­sion, Bill estab­lished a studio in New York. As a member of the Society of Illus­tra­tors, there, he received and awarded award of merit with his painting devel­oped from one of his sketches from the trip in Mexico (the last of the images that you see above). The four amigos, together Other sketch trips followed. Each of the four produced more and more paint­ings, beyond their commer­cial work.

Ann Thompson

Bill Shields – Friend And Artist

I first met Bill when he appeared in San Fran­cisco in 1960 and came to my studio on the recom­men­da­tion of a teacher, Marty Garrity, who taught cartooning at the Chicago Academy of Fine Art in Chicago. Bill studied there during the years 1945 to 1946 and I was there from 1948 to 1950. Marty kept tabs on most of his students and I’m sure he helped many to get together later when an oppor­tu­nity came up. Bill’s arrival in San Fran­cisco was smashing! He had no problem in capti­vating his clien­tele with his stun­ning design and artwork. His illus­tra­tions were appearing every­where and his swift execu­tion kept him busy. He was up to the demand and never disap­pointed!

I was living in Mill Valley and Bill soon moved his family there. He and I, for a time, commuted into the city in his Porsche. We brought our fami­lies together on camping trips where we sketched. Bill brought his talents into play designing and finishing his home to his stan­dards. We often sketched together in the city and managed many week­ends trav­eling with other artists, sketching and painting in the Gold country and along the northern Cali­fornia coast. For two weeks in 1962 our artist friends, Earl Thol­lander and Will Baum, joined us on a trip to Mexico where we visited the west coast town of Guaymas and then we trav­eled south­east to an old cobble­stone town named Alamos. This is where we spent most of our time sketching and enjoying the great differ­ences from our lives in the Bay Area. On our way back north we visited the Joshua Tree National Park. Willi set his camera’s timer and staged this photo. Here are three quick sketches that I made of Bill.

After our return, we prepared a gallery show in San Fran­cisco of paint­ings devel­oped from some of our work accom­plished there in Mexico. During our stay in Mexico I renewed my aver­sion to the Amer­ican Cock­roach, which were plen­tiful there. My fellow artists decided to capture one and put it in an enve­lope and tucked it under my pillow. The scratching sound alerted me to their joke. Bill addressed some of his many envelopes, without roaches, that I received though the years as “Dickaroacha”. Many years later in Hawaii, I over­came the aver­sion, and lived with many such crea­tures.

I was always amazed that Bill’s embell­ished envelopes actu­ally made it to my mailbox. His collec­tion had a few of mine, like this last one that you see above.

In late 1962 (after the gallery show) Bill moved and worked in New York for quite a few years and in 1975 he returned to San Fran­cisco where he estab­lished his Artists Inn studio where he painted. He also taught at various acad­e­mies in the city and Bay Area. Lucky students! My return from Hawaii to San Fran­cisco in 1982 gave us a chance to catch up and enjoy each other’s company and fami­lies, once again. Many lunches and partying happened through the years and an occa­sional sketch trip was always a joy.

Dick Moore


The Thou­sand Recipe Chinese Cook­book” (by Gloria Bley Miller). Artist: Earl Thol­lander Known for the many books that he wrote and illus­trated while drawing on loca­tion, Earl Thol­lander created a most masterful collec­tion of a specific culi­nary tech­nique. The collec­tion was first printed in 1966. It had a hard cover and 926 pages of recipes – instruc­tions and illus­tra­tions. Earl created the 400 illus­tra­tions – he described his method as “sitting at great number of loca­tions, right on the side­walk in the bustle of San Francisco’s Chinese commu­ni­ties”. There were also illus­tra­tions of areas in China and a complete study of the cooking tools and prod­ucts – so much a part of described cuisine. The book was reprinted through the 1960s, ’70s,’80s and ’90s with each with a different cover. The white cover seems the most compat­ible with the enclosed artwork. Even the soft­cover version in 1984 weighed over three pounds.

Earl Thol­lander Illus­tra­tions

Sunset Recipe Annual, 1995 Edition” Artists: David Broad and Alice Harth. This, a 256 page, hard­cover book, includes an abun­dance of (289) beau­tiful photographs and the artistic touches of David Broad and Alice Harth. The book offers no printed credits to artists and photog­ra­phers. Names were printed tight to the photographs and David placed his name in his art and Alice signed with her initials.
David Broad, who’s other art styles have been featured in a past Geezer Gallery posting, was the artist bringing his unique humorous style to this annual collec­tion of recipes. Here, below, are exam­ples of just some of his15 illus­tra­tions in the book. Alice Harth, had a long asso­ci­a­tion with Sunset Publishing Corpo­ra­tion. Alice presented 51 illus­tra­tions of the foods next to the written recipes. These illus­tra­tions required her to create a display of the food and she had to devise the setting for each, with appro­priate deco­ra­tive objects appro­priate to the prepa­ra­tion and prepared foods. These render­ings did not reflect her normal artistic style, but were real­istic to aid in showing the 51 recipes – an alter­na­tive to the already exten­sive amount of photographs in the publi­ca­tion.
(Two exam­ples of Alice’s recog­nized indi­vidual style are shown here, also.)

David Broad Illus­tra­tions

Alice Harth Illus­tra­tions

Sunset’s “Gifts from Your Kitchen”, first printed in 1988. Artist: Dick Cole. Dick Cole was known for his fine art and commer­cial water­color paint­ings. I was surprised to see that there were some of his illus­tra­tions in this Sunset book. Besides the deco­ra­tive illus­tra­tions, Dick had the ability to show cooking proce­dures. Draw­ings that show precise methods – -“hands‐on” visual instruc­tions are often a neces­sary part of a recipe and not an example of style so much as the need to show a clear depic­tion of a proce­dure.

Dick Cole Illus­tra­tions

A Raisin Recipe Booklet

Above also is a quite unusual booklet of recipes created by the agency, J. Walter Thompson Company. They had the Cali­fornia Raisin Advi­sory Board as a client. I am guessing that was in the early 1970s.
Here, above, are some pages of the simple (12 page plus cover) collec­tion of recipes. The intro tells “The history of the little raisin”. The main expense for this simple booklet had to be purchase of the tiny velum envelopes and plastic magni­fiers, the printing of the tiny label reading: “RAISIN” and the handling, stapling it all to the inside cover of the folder. The five illus­tra­tions in the booklet were very simple line art. There is no refer­ence about the artist and I do not know the JWT art director on this project.

Ann Thompson