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