San Francisco, 1972 - 1980



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.








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            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 First Lady.




            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.




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            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.”




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            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!






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            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.






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