Meanwhile, Next door at 728
At the same time, 1964 – 1965 there was another studio in the other of the two Belli Buildings that was pouring out a lot of creativity.
The second floor, front, of 728 Montgomery Street was the workspace for Charles Felix, Dan Romano, Roy Gover and Sven Lindman.
I knew that Charles was from the UK, but I have read, more recently, that Charles Felix was from Bath, in Somerset, South West England. In the early 1960s he was in public relations and on his was to Hong Kong. He stopped here to explore the San Francisco Bay Area and this became his home.
In 1964 he was in the Belli Building and word was that he was pursuing the rights to build an English pub on the pristine and protected site of Muir Beach, Marin County. The authorities of the area were afraid that he was to create an “eyesore”. Charles had to battle long and hard to get approval and create the authentic 7‑room roadhouse that stands there today. His creative talent was his vision and ability to find a very old pub in the UK that was to be demolished. Charles had it totally disassembled, put in containers and shipped to San Francisco. He also found a 70-year-old San Rafael hotel that was to be razed and he salvaged all of the antique beams and much of other wood. The Pelican Inn opened in 1978.
Dan Romano painted the sign for the Pelican Inn.
I saw the original painting in the dining room of the Romano house on Christmas night in 2012.
Dan Romano’s art was seldom in color. He was a master of pen and ink line work. If color was needed, he would convert his black line art to a film positive and then paint color on the illustration board attached behind the film-pos. Dan’s style was in great demand in publications before the halftone process was perfected for newspaper ads and editorial art. In those days, Norm Nicholson was teaching at San Francisco’s Academy of Art. Norm said that he showed Dan Romano’s fine lines and crosshatch style to his students so that they could aspire to such clean and very precise work. Norm: “Dan was a beautiful designer in all his work. He certainly inspired me! What talent came out of S.F. in those days. Especially the black and white art.”
A lot of the SF artists socialized in the city, but Dan worked steadily at his drawing board through the day and then was home with his wife, Riva. They had had their home in Marin County designed and built by Joseph Esherick. The Romanos enjoyed a long-time friendship with Stan and Frances Galli who also lived in the same area.
Here, first, is line art for a winery (the names of client, agency, art director are unavailable). Scanned directly from Dan’s art, I could find no corrections on the 12” x 6” illustration.
Another original is this line and full color illustration of a truck. The examples that follow have been found at small size in ADASF 1963−64−65 Annuals where the halftone has blurred the clarity of the “Romano” line.
Roy Gover came to San Francisco from London by way of Toronto. He had worked in London and he had a strong commercial art background before arriving in the SF Bay Area.
Bob Bausch wrote recently, “Roy Gover and Sven Lindman were both good friends of mine, who I met when we all worked at “Patterson and Hall” (an art studio established in 1921 that promoted many artists new to San Francisco).
Roy had the valuable drawing talent to provide layouts (comps or comprehensives) for San Francisco advertising agencies such as Bonfield Associates. Because the agencies held his work, I never saw that side of his talent — but in 728 Montgomery St., between assignments, he was always painting. I have one of his paintings from that time. Later, he had shows at the SFMOMA and many fine galleries. Roy was “theatrical” and his creative talents were also presented in his recordings and humorous illustrations.
Sven Lindman was born in Hultsfred, Sweden and went to design school in Stockholm. He and his classmate, Lars Melander, were chosen by visiting “scouts” from Hallmark Cards to come to the states and share their talents with designers at Hallmark in Kansas City.
He stayed at Hallmark for a few years and then moved on to San Francisco where he worked at Patterson and Hall and did some freelancing at 728 Montgomery Street.
After five years there, he moved to New York City where he again free-lanced and later joined Sudler & Hennessey, Div. of Y&R as an art director. In 1985, he went on to Klemtner Advertising where he became Creative Director until his retirement in 2001.
Sven and his wife, Jean Davidson spent some time in Hawaii and then settled permanently in Menlo Park, CA.
Although the collection of his art is much larger, I am showing his work from the publications of the 1965 and 1966 ADASF Annual Exhibitions of Advertising and Editorial Arts and also the Sven’s promo folder when he was at the Patterson and Hall.
Witness of Creativity — February ’64 to April ’65.
I was only employed with Butte Herrero &Hyde for this short time before they dissolved their partnership, but I was able to see the creation of a great number of their jobs. At, that same time, I was able to create my very first bits of commercial art — a rose for a “shelf-talker” (very small, but my first printed piece of commercial art.)
And also, I executed my first “mechanicals”, in other words: “paste-ups”— the Shell note pads, matchbooks and matchboxes. These were the client’s promotional giveaways. I was learning, all the time: what supplies are needed — how to keep the petty cash box “in the black” — where to research (like the SF Mechanic’s Institute Library, located at 57 Post Street. It was founded in 1854 to serve the vocational needs of out-of-work gold miners)— how to package and mail finished art (to say, Chicago.) — and how to protect large transparencies of BH&H’s artwork. This last task required cleaning the transparency and its protective acetate sleeve from lint, then framing it with clean black heavy stock at a uniform size to fit with the hundreds of their other samples kept in three file drawers. No digital files of samples in those days.
I met type-reps, paper-reps and printer-reps. I also had a last-minute lesson from BH&H’s bookkeeper on invoicing, record keeping, etc. All of this I could never have learned at a school. It all prepared me for my life as a free-lance artist — which came sooner than I had expected.
BH&H Creativity as shown in the 1964 and1965 ADASF Annual Shows’ Publications
This “GOODYEAR” ad is in color because I saved a copy torn from Life magazine. More about its creation can be found at Our Favorite Places-Community of Creatives. See “How It Happened”.
The following B&W scans are from the annuals.
This completes my nearly complete collection of the extensive accomplishments of Butte, Herrero and Hyde from their last year as a partnership:
Self-inventive “Gofer” Duties — After Heavy Rain.
Above the reception area of Butte, Herrero and Hyde’s second floor studio, there was a small storage space on the roof, with windows for light and shelves for storage. This is where a lot of finished art from past jobs was kept. One very rainy afternoon, when the partners had headed out for lunch (was it Venessi’s or New Joe’s or Enrico’s — up the street on Broadway, or lunch with Hal Halberstadt at ChoCho’s, or the Owl ‘n’ Turtle, or the Iron Pot or Gino’s) — I locked the front door, put a chair on the reception desk and climbed up to push up the trap door in the ceiling. I pulled myself up and into the storage space. As I had guessed, with the heavy rain, there were many areas getting wet.
I moved a lot of illustrations that were still dry. The water seemed to flow down established channels, so when I left, everything was in a dry location. By the time BH&H had returned, I was back at my drawing board and they never knew that I protected (maybe what they no longer even wanted).
When I was there, the partners had a yearly production — the Shell Chemical Calendar.
Shell Chemical’s office was in San Francisco. When it was time for the calendar to move through the studio, there was much activity. Conferences were many on the style and details of the new calendar. One of the little additions — barely noticeable — was the graphic decoration that was added on each of the special days of the month. These were authentic images taken from flour sacks of the past — so plentiful in early American bulk supplies of flour. Each image was sized and muted, so they were seen on the date — but still subtle. Phases of the moon were styled and placed. The reference for the dates of the moon’s changes came from the prediction records that I picked up at the US Federal Building at 30 Sansome Street.
My special assignment at the last phase, close to the deadline for all to be completed, was answering the phone calls from Shell’s David Davies. I was to tell him that he could not see the ongoing development of the paintings — and that Lowell was at his cabin in the Sierras and would deliver the finished art when it was completed.
Click on an image for a larger view and the collection.
My One Year And One Month.
There are many sites and stories to be found about Melvin Belli and the two buildings that he bought and renovated at 722 and 728 Montgomery Street in San Francisco.
I recently found this booklet, written by Mr. Belli, with even more details on the purchase of the property from the previous owners to the reconstruction, which noted very iffy underpinnings and standing water found when excavating for the placement of an elevator.
Click on an image for a full view
Cover of booklet and Walkway
You can see, here, the gas street lamps from Denmark. 722 was a two story building and older than the three story 728 location. The entry walkway was placed along the adjoining walls of the two buildings. After this row of mailboxes, the walkway opened at the left, to the elevator and staircase and if one walked farther, toward the Belli reception office at the back of the property, one would be in a daily refreshed flower courtyard with a splashing fountain. This opened to the sky and gave light to all of the internal rented offices above.
Every weekday morning from March 1964 to April 1965, I would arrive early to turn my key that released the heavy latch on this New Orleans Iron Gate. I was on my way to the second floor front studio of my wonderful job, working for Butte, Herrero and Hyde, nationally known commercial artists (each with fine-art talents, they would be even more creative at home if they had any leisure time). I have posted photos of BH&H in my earlier posts of 10-14-2013 and 1 – 5‑2014.
My lucky day, 2-10-1964, brought me to this location with the big black portfolio that would-be artist carried. Taught to work up ideas and show ones best samples — clean and flapped for a nice presentation — my portfolio was packed with a wide variety with the hope that one or two pieces would get me a job. Here is one that I had created in my basement room — copy and a humorous illustration for Foremost Milk (which no longer exists).
Click on the image for a full view
I don’t know which part of my portfolio did it, but my job started on 3 – 1‑1964. To my surprise, Foremost Milk was one of the partners’ steady clients. In the one-year that I was with them, there were three Foremost assignments that I watched them create. Their Foremost Christmas “event calendar,” I have shown on my previous post on 12−12−14.
The collections shown, below, show the talents of Bruce Butte (designer / art director), Lowell Herrero (humorous illustrator) and Bill Hyde (lettering and type designer).
I am making a collection of the extensive work that BH&H produced in just the last year of their partnership.
All of this group, I regret, are without credits to the Agencies, Art Directors, Copywriters Engravers or Printers because they are from my collection of printed pieces of that time.
Click on an image for a full view
A Block That Changed To A Pyramid!
In 1963, when I was hired by Butte, Herrero and Hyde who were located in the Belli Building, the Montgomery Block building that had been at the nearby corner had already been razed. There was a fenced, large, open lot at that location.
It was still a vacant lot through the late 1960s.
Then newspaper articles and an uproar emerged about the plans to build a very tall “pyramid” which was designed in 1969 to tower 1,040 feet on that lot at the corner of Washington and Montgomery streets.
Alvin Duskin at that time was running for the office of San Francisco Supervisor. He was known for selling women’s clothing, a product from his father’s knitting mill. Some of his knitted fashions had long skirts — but when he began making a sweater, a little longer— that was a mini-dress! That was during the 1960s! His business grew with a factory at 520 Third Street. He had 250 employees.
In opposition of the mayor’s stand on the “high-rise” issue, Mr. Duskin campaigned for Proposition T to keeping San Francisco as the small and charming city of the past. Why let it grow high with the cold, dark, windy streets? Big grey buildings will bring in commuters, more traffic, and fewer jobs for the SF citizens. How safe are tall buildings in an earthquake area? The Transamerica Pyramid was to be on landfill that was above the mud of the bay! (Later, during construction, work was temporarily stopped when the remains of a ship was discovered.)
Here is an ad (too much to read, here) but the photos and headline give a clue to his argument for Proposition T that was to limit the height of new construction.
The topic of the day was this issue. The San Francisco Chronicle called it “…a pyramid so unusual it might have drawn a wink or a gasp from the Sphinx.” There were praises and criticisms from far and wide.
Sixteen local artists created an Alvin Duskin campaign “coloring book”. At that time, Bob Pease was the president of our communicating arts club. Recently, I emailed and asked him about the coloring book, he wrote: We had our monthly meetings at Gino’s on Spring St. where Alvin was invited to talk about Prop.T — we got excited and did the coloring book all with donated art from our friends, ended up printing 100K in two printings! It almost worked! That was our major promo at the time. Glad to see Alvin never giving up!
The results of early polling started plans for height restrictions in many districts, but on Election Day, Proposition T failed. Alvin Duskin went on to champion the anti-nuclear movement in the mid-1970s. He also became a pioneer in renewable energy and carbon capture.
As it turned out, the plans for William Pereira’s Transamerica Pyramid were changed. The height was trimmed down to 853 feet, which necessitated “ears” on the pyramid — the ears were the locations of the two elevators. The construction was completed in1972.
If built today, with the extreme heights of the new buildings in San Francisco, The Pyramid would be its original planned height and all four sides would be smooth and flat. I was able to visit the top floor of the Transamerica Pyramid, when I was a part of the design group who created the Transamerica Annual Report. That top floor was small, but the views were, and still must be, amazing from that unique location.
The Belli Building, did not survive the Loma Prieta Earthquake of 1989. Unsupported bricks don’t make it. Melvin Belli’s widow, although a person representing the San Francisco Landmarks Preservation Advisory Board, was not able to save the landmark building. In this view, it is under wraps to protect pedestrians.
View of today’s Montgomery Street, Belli Building to T. Pyramid.