Tuesday, July 08, 2014

San Francisco Noir

SF based illustrator Ben Walker and I went on a themed sketch-crawl over the July 4th holiday. Inspired by a recent article in the NY Times on Dashiel Hammett's connection to the city.

We trailed Hammett all over San Francisco. We started at 891 Post St where  Sam Spade's detective agency was based in the Tenderloin. Then on to Burritt Alley to see the site where Spade's partner was killed. A plaque marks “On approximately this spot, Miles Archer, Sam Spade’s partner, was done in by Brigid O’Shaughnessy.”

 This is a view from Dashiel Emmett alley

With still no sign of Hammett we broke for lunch at Lori's Diner, on Powell to compare notes.  We gum-shoed it down to the Flood Building on Market Street, where Hammett was employed as a private dick for the Pinkerton's.

Near Union Sq. we bribed the doorman of a downtown hotel where Hammett was known to stay. There's even a suite named after him. . . 

Around the corner is Hammett's favorite hang-out, John's Bar & Grill. Still in business as a restaurant and now the HQ of the Hammett Society. The author is said to have written much of 'The Maltese Falcon' at a booth here.
We went inside and smooth-talked the dame on the front desk. She let us go upstairs and find the famous falcon itself.

Pinkerton's were on to us so we high tailed it through the Stockton Tunnel and laid low in North Beach. We had a tip-off that Hammett liked to drink at Tosca cafe but we lost him in the crowd. We sat outside a cafe and observed the wild-life on Broadway.
He was elusive, kept to the shadows but we're gumshoes and we'll find him. Maybe not today, maybe not tomorrow, but soon ... 


k.mediani said...

Hi, Matt. I never able to get enough looking at your beautiful sketches. And this specifically noir-theme sketching trip around the city sounds like really fun!!

Wonder how long approximately does it take you to sketch pretty intricate buildings, while I'm assuming you're standing on a sidewalk in a busy area? Thanks.

Matt Jones said...

Thanks K. I try not to spend more than an hour on an architectural study-I want to keep the life work loose and spontaneous. I stop when I find myself looking for more details to add, which is usually around the 1 hour mark.

Sean said...

These are so descriptive, to the point, and drawn with so much style and confidence. Lot of inspiration here. Great, great drawings. Thanks for posting as always!

Matt Jones said...

Cheers Sean! Appreciated-