From "The Memoirs, Chapter Five"
I had learned a little about silk-screening when I was in Seattle with
Billy King, the sloppy, down-and-dirty version, of course, and had a
couple screens with me on Vicksburg Street. It was 1972 and I was
obsessing a bit with the ridiculous First Lady we had at that time, Pat
Nixon, and everybody was calling her Plastic Pat.
I decided a silk-screen tribute was in order.
My “homage” to Pat started to grow.
* * *
A couple years later Cara Landry of the Napa Valley Theater Company gave
me a wonderful Getstetner machine, which I immediately put to work
printing pictures of Pat. Here's a lovely black and white of the
Russell's friend Chester Howard was then working at the S.F. Chronicle
and would bring me photos off the wire services. Many came over
the wires in four-color separations, ready for the newspaper to print.
I was especially pleased with all the colorful flowers Pat had planted
in the White House gardens.
And I did one
of Richard Nixon and the two Nixon daughters entering the hospital to
visit Pat, who was there with some sort of ailment.
I would later
paint that image in a mural on the side of our AAA Studios on Fourteenth Street.
* * *
When Maria was putting together her “Box Lunch” tribute to “39 women of
dubious distinction,” I immediately thought of my favorite dubious lady
and contributed a box called “The San Clemente Rose.”
* * *
A short time later, we began installing the giant, if unfathomable show,
“Bill Wolf’s Salute to the 70’s” at the big, old South of Market
Cultural Center and we decided to reuse the billboard we built for
Maria’s show up on the roof and very visible to passing traffic. In my
usual obtuse style, I decided a full-face portrait of Pat Nixon would by
just the thing to advertise our show, no words, just Pat’s smiling face.
Remember this is eight years AFTER he resigned. I painted it in the AAA
studios on Fourteenth Street and then pasted it onto the billboard.
Well, we got a lot of
publicity from that and several photos in the papers, one of which I
sent to Pat Nixon (!) and received back a kind thank-you note written in
her own hand with her own pen on “Casa Pacifica” stationary. I framed
it and displayed it next to the television showing her husband’s
resignation speech over and over, as part of the show!
* * *
About then, those two crazy gals, Iris and Rachael, had decided to do
their own “mega-project” and took off on a cross-country drive to visit
the birthplaces of every First Lady in the History of the U.S.A., of
something like that. It was ridiculous, of course, but they arrived
back in San Francisco with their car loaded down with First Lady
souvenirs, I guess to prove they had done it.
You can imagine that I was quite moved when they presented me with an
original commemorative coin from Ely, Nevada, Birthplace of Pat Nixon.
It was beautiful beyond words.
* * *
...NEXT: "TURKEY AND BONES AND EATING AND WE LIKED IT"