By Bill Stewart
I was cleaning out the closet holding our old Art Center portfolios. Both my wife (Nina Heredeen Stewart) and I attended Art Center School in the mid ‘50s and I was fresh out of the Navy. My dad had sent me an article about the Art Center and I said: “Why not, I’ll give it a try when I get out of the Navy”. Most importantly, I got the GI Bill, $110 a month. Woohoo!
But it was enough to pay for gas for my old ‘41 Ford, Room rent, groceries and tuition supplemented with jobs as night manager of an engraving plant and handyman at a retired opera singer’s home and janitor at Art Center. Tuition at that time was $70 a month.
Can you believe that?
Well, anyway, Nina and I still have our original portfolios from that era. Nobody saves that stuff, but we did for some reason!
In the process of digging through piles of stuff, I came across my student ads for a medical product.
The project for the ads was to come up with the latest use of a therapeutic drug. So we went down to the medical library at UCLA and searched for something evolving on the medical front.
The drug that I picked was a breakthrough with mental health issues and was reported to treat people with psychosis. The title of the article was “Artificial Psychosis”
People with psychosis were reported to not be affected by this drug. Normal people suffered wild and terrifying visions.
Below are my two assignment ads.
Little did I know, at the time this drug would become wildly famous later!
Where the hell is the logo on these layouts? Oh well, I hated logos back in the old art school days. They just got in the way of good graphics anyway. I say, leave them out!
My list of students at ACS, that I remember, who later became Geezers in the Bay Area:
Gene Icardi, Dean Smith, John Rutherford, Jim Blakeley, Norm Nicholson, Mort Kohn, Dean Smith, John Pratt, Ann Williams (Stitt), Chuck Eckart. Al Fessler, Warren Lee, Stan Dann, George Hampton, John Divers, Don McKee.
I worked as art director for two ad agencies in Seattle: Cole & Webber and also Botsford, Constantine & Gardner. BC&G later moved its headquarters to San Francisco and merged with its S.F. office, later to become Botsford Ketchum. At that time I worked primarily on the Olympia Beer account. Nina’s freelance work included package illustration for Republic of Tea, Sunrise Home Interiors, story illustrations for Travelers’ Tales book series.
After BC&G I joined with Kelly Nason Advertising (Coors Beer), Christian Brothers Marketing Services, and Flair Communications (Dole Foods and Christian Brothers).
My time at Botsford Ketchum:
For the most part, the agency had a great and fun and crazy bunch of people!
So many hijinks went on and we didn’t even know it was hijinks. Haha. At the time, we thought it was normal business procedure.
I would often get my lunch at a little greasy spoon on Market Street called “Bill’s”.
Bill would serve the best hot dog on the West Coast. It was a hot dog on two slices of sourdough bread with a little sauerkraut on top and then he’d pop it in the Panini Press. for a couple of minutes and it came out piping hot and delicious. ”Best in the West.”
After lunch, I would move on down Market Street to an area devoted to several World War II surplus stores. I loved the surplus stores because they had so much oddball stuff in there. You name it, they had it.
Often, I took my trip down Market Street to my favorite store. I think it was called “Marty’s Mart” (which later became “Electronics Plus” on 4th Street in San Rafael. It was a big supplier to George Lucas, who had his film facility nearby. The store had a huge supply of electronic components and parts. There was hardly anything Marty couldn’t supply in the electronics field.)
Back, to the location on Market Street: Marty had something different hanging out in front of his store. It was this big red, orange colored bomb, a bomb like they used in World War II that was dropped from B‑17 bombers over Europe during the war. This one looked like it was used as a dummy bomb.
The bomb was big, maybe over 10 ft. tall. It was a red orange in color and made of fiberglass or plastic. I said to myself “Now that’s something you don’t see everyday.”
It was fascinating in an odd sort of way.
At the time, it was the height of the Pop Art movement. Pop Art was seen everywhere along with the Hippie art and Rock posters in the Hippie style with stylized type and lettering imagery.
I think the price for the bomb was only around 40 bucks or so and I thought that might make a unusual piece for the creative department.
Heck, they hang big pictures of Campbell’s Soup cans and other stuff all over the place, why not do something fun and unusual.
I went back to the office and shared the thought of placing a big ugly bomb in the creative department as a form of Pop Art. That would be an outrageous statement.
The timing would be perfect. Anti war, Anti flag, anti everything.
Pete Walderhaug, art director, and Bob Hulme, (sp?) copywriter, wanted in on the “project”. So we each chipped in equal amounts and went down to “Marty’s Mart” and bought ourselves a 10-ft. red bomb. Partners in crime, so to speak.
The problem now was how to get the bomb from “Marty’s Mart” up to the sixth floor in our office building. We started with Marty getting the bomb down from its place of honor in the front of his store. With two guys in back and one guy in front, we proceeded to march down Market Street, hoping we wouldn’t cause much of a stir. Actually, hardly anyone noticed. Oh, a few people looked up, glanced and just kept going about their business. No big deal.
Can you imagine, no one paid attention to three guys lugging a big bomb right down Market Street?
We could have been Soviets or Neo-Nazis or the Clan or any number of organizations looking to do harm.
I must say, one can see a lot of strange things on Market Street over the years. So three guys carrying a big bomb down the street really wasn’t anything that unusual, I guess.
We arrived at our building with no incident, which was a great relief to us.
We got the bomb through the glass front doors easily, but the next problem was the elevator. The bomb wouldn’t fit! It was too tall to fit in the elevator!
We went in search of the building’s maintenance guy and he showed up in a few minutes. He said he thought he could lower the elevator to the floor level and we could just put the bomb on top of the elevator and take it up that way. So with the skill of a surgeon he manipulated the elevator car in place where the roof of the elevator was level with the floor. Problem solved. One of us just had to hold the bomb with one arm and hang on to the elevator’s cable with the other hand. Easy, what could go wrong?
I think Bob Hulme volunteered to be the guy on the roof. He jumped in and said “hand ‘er in!” The bomb easily went in and stood on end with plenty of room to spare.
The maintenance guy slowly started the elevator at a very slow speed.
Again, showing his immense skill and steady hand.
The rest of us got on another elevator to meet them on the sixth floor. We arrived there in plenty of time to see the bomb slowly rising until the roof of the elevator became level with the 6th floor. We eased the bomb out onto the hall floor and walked it down to the Creative Department. There is a large partition that separates the hallway from the actual Creative Department. We set the “Sculpture” (the bomb) next to the inside of the partition and stepped back to admire our work. It looked glorious!
ODD? — — — — — — — — YES!!
STRANGE? — — YES!
OUT OF PLACE? YES!
WEIRD? — — — — -YES!
SUCCESS? — –Oh YES!
With all the boxes checked, the mission was complete!
As luck would have it, our boss, the creative director, was the first one in the office to view our “artistic efforts”.
He asked, “What the hell is that?” We answered, “It’s a bomb sculpture, Doug.” He asked,”Who ordered it?” We answered “We don’t know, Doug, we’re just helping to move it.” (Which is true, nobody ordered it, we just put it there.) True, right?
So with that exchange, and the mission complete. The red bomb stood there for another three years. Everyone looked at it once and just forgot about it. A few people said “What the hell is that?” but nobody had the right answer, so they moved on and just forgot about it.
As I say, it stood there for 3 years and everybody just got used to it and pretty much forgot about it.
This event turned out to be a good study in human nature which might be useful at a later time, but not now.
Nina Heredeen Stewart & Bill Stewart
at the 10 – 1‑2014 Geezer Picnic.