Thursday, April 15, 2010

Herb Caen

It was time to try to paint Herb Caen. One of his good friends was Barnaby Conrad, the younger brother of one of Sam's best friends, Hunt Conrad. He paved my way and Herb said yes when I presented my plan.

I had to see him at 2PM after his walk about town checking up on his pals. And after his leisurely lunch with his friends. After 2PM he spent a couple of hours at his desk in his office taking copious notes from incoming phone calls. He laughed a lot and obviously enjoyed his life and his work. ( Historically, at one time Herb and the owners of the paper had a falling out and Herb quit and went across the street and worked for the other paper in town. Thousands of people gave up their subscription to the Chronicle and moved their allegiance to the other paper. However soon the Chronicle realized that they needed Herb and they settled their difficulties.

In Herb's office I sat next to his desk. It was difficult to concentrate for he was very amusing. The calls were constant and the repartee was exciting. It was fun to read his column the next morning remembering how the item came in while I was sitting there. At one time Herb said he would pay me a bundle if I would give him a turned up nose. My portrait of Herb was a disappointment to me. There was a good likeness but it was not ART. I got much publicity especially after the portrait hung in
deYoung Museum. I gave the painting to the educational channel in San Francisco and rumor had it that it was bought by a hotel on Market street and they hung it in the Herb Caen Suite. When we lived in Northern California I often wanted to find it.

And then I was going to paint Bishop Pike and Willie Mays. One day Sam come home from work and told us that his partner in Southern California had died and he was supposed to take over his job. We moved. We had lived in Diablo nearly 20 years and I had been very active in the schools and in our church and in the world of art. We had made such good friends. I saw myself as others saw me and after we moved and I knew no one and I lost my identity. I remember going to Martha's graduation ceremony and sat there not knowing a soul and I felt I was invisible. We lived there until 1983 and I think I painted no more than five or six successful paintings.

1 comment:

Anonymous said...

I love that you're getting back to telling us these old stories they are SOOO interesting!! :)

My name is Kristen, I am Australian and I live and teach Maths and science in India.