It must have been 1965 when I was among a number of San Francisco’s creatives who gathered at Bruce Bomberger’s home at 1000 Lombard Street. This address was at the base of “North Beach’s crookedest street”. His home was “a gallery” of his paintings, but I didn’t know his life’s work up to that date.
Bruce was a member of the Art Directors and Artists Club of San Francisco, as was I, so I seem to remember that the group was a committee to plan a part of one of the club’s upcoming events. The club’s membership would have been the only way that I could have been included. I knew that Bruce was one of the top illustrators in the city. Now, after all these years, I am able to know more of his history as a commercial illustrator and fine arts painter.
Bruce Dubois Bomberger was born on May 18, 1918 in Manteca, CA, which is 76 miles due east of San Francisco. He started painting at age eight. His art had developed at the College of Arts and Crafts in Berkeley, CA and at Art Center in Los Angeles. In the late 1940s, he worked for Fred Ludekens at Foot, Cone and Belding in San Francisco.
Bruce Hettema is the current owner of Patterson and Hall (now, P&H Creative Group, located in Sonoma County http://www.phcreative.com/ ) I thank Bruce Hettema for providing this background information and samples of Bruce Bomberger’s talent.
Bruce Bomberger, was one of the most sought after artists at Patterson & Hall. In the 1940s, he, along with Stan Galli, became silent partners. Because of this, they were able to sign their illustrations which wasn’t always the case with P&H staff artists. In addition to his illustrations for The California Zephyr, Bruce illustrated many billboards for Levi’s helping to establish their cowboy image. This lead to his work later for Marlboro cigarettes creating the iconic Marlboro Man. He also did work for Matson, Chevrolet, Chevron, Bank of America and more.
THE CALIFORNIA ZEHPYR
1958, The Bombergers traveled to Hawaii. Finding no other photos of Bruce Bomberger, Bruce Hettema found this newspaper clipping in the Patterson and Hall archives.
1961, Bruce Bomberger was a founding member of SFSI, the San Francisco Society of Illustrators, and a president of that club.
There was a demand for his illustrations for stories written in the major magazines: such as the Saturday Evening Post, True, True West, Good Housekeeping and Reader’s Digest.
During the mid-1960s:
His product illustrations were seen in Life, Look and Time magazines. He painted for Wayerhaeuser Timber Company, and a full series of magazine ads known as the Marlboro Country campaign for Leo Burnett’s Advertising Agency, Chicago, IL.
Also, Mobil Oil Co. offered prints, suitable for framing, of Bruce Bomberger’s illustrations of the Green Bay Packers, the Wisconsin’s NFL football team.
Retiring from commercial work, Bruce Bombarder made many paintings, some now available on the web. Bruce Bomberger died at age 62, in September of 1980.
In addition to his artwork, Bruce Bomberger designed a home for his family in Kent Woodlands in Marin County. He worked closely with his architect, George Rockrise, AIA, and landscape designer, Lawrence Halprin. The house and art studio was to match the shape of the pie-shaped lot, a natural shelf that had views of Mount Tamalpais and the San Francisco Bay. Bruce also made all of the interior choices from the colors of the interior to the design of furniture for the home.
This newspaper report, shown above, was in the San Francisco Examiner and dated: 24 Dec. 1961,
So was the home that I visited on Lombard Street in 1965, his second home?
BTW, the 1000 Lombard address has quite a history.