M. Halberstadt Photographer

San Francisco Bay Area Artists Community from 1945 to 1970.

Following the second world war the San Francisco Bay area attracted many creatives seeking a better environment to live and work in. Their introduction to the area may have been posting at any one of the many military bases scattered around the bay. From Hamilton Air Force Base in Novato to Fort Ord Army Base in Monterey, military installations processed over a million servicemen. While the industrial complex built shipyards, cargo was loaded and unloaded on the Embarcardo and Port Oakland creating new jobs and new neighbors of those who flocked to the open opportunities and great weather the area offered.
Many returned with GI loans to settle their families or go to school, never to leave. The weather was perfect, the sky clear and the light crisp. Communities welcomed new neighbors as if they were homesteaders on the prairie. Marin City, once shipyard housing, turned into cheap places to live for writers and artists. Abandoned barges in Sausalito soon had roofs and plumbing, the neighborhoods began to expand.

In this day and age gallery artists and commercial artists do not mix, but after the war the creative community was the creative community. Co-mingling was for a common cause – creativity. Creative solutions were creative solutions no matter what the media or project. Art Directors had gone to art school classes alongside of painters, sculptors, printmakers and photographers. In those days Art Directors needed to know how to draw, paint design and set type. The San Francisco Art Institute until 1963 had a design department where graphic design was taught by, among others, Joan Brown. Before Blair Stapp and Gerry Burchard worked at this same institution they worked for M. Halberstadt Illustration Photography. It is now wonder they were creatively intrigued by each other’s work and the new styles and techniques being experimented with.

This blog is a collaborative project. While the most noted artists from that period such as Ansel Adams, Dorthea Lange, Imogen Cunninghan, Richard Diebenkorn are celebrated and sold, many are forgotten or soon-to-be-forgotten. These artists and designers have changed the way we see things. They are part of art history, the history of the Bay Area and our lives.