Inland Steel

Hal (Halber­stadt) photographed many subjects…even fire and soap-bubbles! Here, below, is the full series of a collab­o­ra­tion of Bruce Butte, Lowell Herrero, Bill Hyde and Milton Halberstadt…for Inland Steel. Hal’s spot­lights and shadows…a perfect touch!

These eight construc­tions were created at the Belli Building, 722 Mont­gomery Street in BH&H’s second floor studio…and photographed just a few blocks away in Hal’s studio on Vallejo Street.

It was 1964, and my first and only art studio employ­ment, when I witnessed this creation.

I felt lucky to have the assign­ment of gath­ering the elements for these fanciful construc­tions. I was sent to the costume, yardage and novelty store at the foot of Powell Street (someone will remember its name) for bits and pieces for the costumes. Then (I always chose to walk) I was sent to the huge, barn­like, hard­ware store on Battery Street to pick up some sheets of steel! When I arrived there, I found a variety, each at 3’ X 4’! They had only brown wrap­ping paper around the sides. Thinking that I could carry them, I headed back. I could carry them only a few feet and then I would have to rest…all along the route back to the Belli Building. I was afraid to split the load for fear of racing back to find the others sheets gone. (In 1964, a working girl wore a dress or suit. Shoes with at least a low heel but no athletic shoes in down­town San Fran­cisco and no cell phone to call for help). Entering the Belli Building gate…I didn’t have to take the flight of stairs, up to the BH&H studio. There was a freight elevator. Then just three steps up to the studio door. BH&H were (liter­ally) out to lunch, so they never new exactly how their purchase of the steel sheets was delivered.

Being a “gofer,” recep­tionist, art supply purchaser, “luci” oper­ator, paste-up artist…and occa­sional illustrator…(I got to paint the tattoos on the “Tattooed Lady”) I believed that I was blessed to be working there, that year, before BH&H dissolved their part­ner­ship. It was the most wonderful expe­ri­ence for me. I would have never started my more than forty years of free-lancing if they had stayed together where I could’ve assisted them with their work.

Ann Thompson

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