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