Portrait Of The Smiling Old Man: Our Own Art Mystery


When Chris Crever acquired our building in 2001, one of the pieces of equipment he insisted on making part of the deal was an oil painting of a gray bearded man in a straw hat.

The subject is posed with his shirt open, the smoke rising placidly from his pipe, while his eyes and mouth betray the hint of a smile. It’s almost as if he’s hiding a secret.

And in fact he is.

No one is sure exactly where the painting came from or how it ended up in the possession of Cine Rent West founder Gregg Snazell when he was in San Francisco.

The inscription on the back isn’t much help.  It reads:
To Mr. Greg (sic) Snazelle
the best mechanic &
director in the field
Much obliged for
your knowledge &

J.A. Garry

Gregg’s son Craig (who doesn’t know where the painting came from either) assures us that the part about being “the best mechanic” is entirely tongue in cheek. His father was known to be extremely neglectful of his cars—in one case, driving his newer BMW with no oil in it.

Ironically, Gregg was known for making cars look good. He earned the reputation for being one of the most talented DPs on the west coast when it came to shooting cars for commercials.

We’ve heard a lot of theories, good and bad, about how Mr. Snazelle Sr. might have acquired the painting. But there’s been nothing definitive.

“The Old Man With The Straw Hat And Pipe” now hangs above the door into the soundstage, where you are invited to view it during business hours. White wine not provided.