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.

Ann Thompson

Click on an image for a larger view and the collection.