I found this great old print by Phil Brinkman of my favorite city San Francisco. I had this stored in our closet and decided I love the imagery of it and I want to make sure it sees the light of day.Here are some images of this piece.
I wasn’t familiar with Mr.Brinkman so I decided to look him up. We have soo many pieces of artwork and I buy it because I like it not because who drew it, so sometimes it is nice to slow down and research the artist.
Mr. Brinkman got his start as a professional artist right after art school with Ruth Ruff Ryan agency and then later moved to Benton Bowles agency. He was home in St. Louis working with the Gardner Advertising Agency in the early 40’s when he signed up to join the Army Air Corps in 1942.
Phil came into the Air Corps with his paint box. He was assigned to Special Services; his military occupational specialty was designated as Draftsman as there was not a category for artist. His early art assignments included lettering the CO’s name on the door as well as other base signage. In 1943 he was stationed at Davis-Monthan Field in Tuscon, Arizona. Phil did his first mural here in the Service Men’s Club. The mural, which covered the walls of a room 36 by 90 feet, depicted the history of flight beginning with the fall of Icarus, and covered the early pioneers in aviation and their planes through the modern B-24. Included in the mural were portraits of the aviators and text scrolls, which gave a detailed history of the men and the aircraft. The mural was used as a teaching aide on base as well. While Phil was stationed at Davis-Monthan, the commander of the 834th Bomb Squadron (Heavy), Winfred “Jip” Howell saw this mural. The two worked together to come up with a theme for the groups B-24’s, twelve planes needing distinctive markings. The idea for the Fighting Zodiacs was born. Phil was transferred to the 486th and soon found he was on his way to England.
In 1944 Phil was stationed at Army Air Force Station 174, Sudbury, Suffolk, England. Phil had been working on the nose art for the planes as well as doing murals on the base. In addition to the Zodiac’s he did other nose art pieces. Unfortunately, none of these original panels exist today, but there are photographs of many of these paintings documented in Nose Art books.
After the war Phil returned to St. Louis but only briefly. He decided to put his money together and buy a boat in Florida. He moved to the Tampa area where he worked as an illustrator. He eventually traveled with another friend from St. Louis and went south to Palm Beach. He lived on his boat while taking his art portfolio to agencies trying to find work in the commercial field. He ended up doing murals again, and once again many of these works gave a history of the area. He spent a great deal of time in local library researching his topics. In 1951 he married Carmen Catlett of Louisville and they made their home in the Coconut Grove area. They raised 3 children. Phil continued to paint murals throughout South Florida and worked closely with decorator Homer Shrewsberry. Phil also painted extensively in the Bahamas and the Virgin Islands. His jobs were primarily murals yet he also was well known for his portrayal of wildlife and game fish. His first love was watercolor. His Bahamian watercolors were unique and most often he preferred to work on site when doing his smaller paintings. He never considered himself a portrait artist, yet many of his finest works were portraits. His paintings and murals can be found throughout the eastern United States.
In his later years he came down off the scaffolding and focused on paintings that could be done in his studio. He moved to Englewood, Florida in 1989 and was active in the local art scene on the Gulf Coast. He died in Gainesville, Florida where he lived with his daughter’s family in May of 2000.
I remember when I was in the Air Force and stationed at Ellsworth AFB in South Dakota I knew a guy by the name of Steve Barba. We were both crew chiefs and became good friends while I was in and he was an artist as well. He painted the nose arts on all the B-1 bombers (bones) in the 37th Bomb Squadron . He had such a great ability with his airbrush. When I read about Mr. Brinkman it reminds me of my time in the service and the great people like Steve that I had the privilege to know. When you read about Mr.Brinkman you cant help but feel he had a full and fruitful life. As an artist myself I can only imagine how great it must have been to join the service as an artist…WOW!