photo l.a. Brings SoCal Community Together

John Belushi, 1981, in Los Angeles. It is 16 X 20 and vintage silver gelatin. Photo is courtesy of Norman Seeff

For the 26th time, photo l.a. has done what very few annual photo exhibits have done – bring more than 10,000 photo aficionados of Southern California together to appreciate the beauty and history of photographic art. This year’s edition, led by director Claudia James Bartlett, began on January 12th and runs through the 15th, emanating from the second floor of THE REEF at the LA Mart building in DTLA.

Andy Warhol, 1969, in New York City. It is 16 X 20 and vintage silver gelatin. Photo credit: Norman Seeff

Andy Warhol, 1969, in New York City. It is 16 X 20 and vintage silver gelatin. Photo credit: Norman Seeff

Opening night of the extravaganza paid homage to Weston Naef, the founding curator of photographs at the Getty Museum, and benefited non-profits, including the Lucie Foundation and John Wayne Cancer Foundation (look for vintage Wayne photos by John R. Hamilton Photography). Certainly, there is much to be proud of as one walks and weaves around the numerous exhibitors (80 in all), two of which are headline installations by the Monroe Gallery of Photography, which highlight Grey Villet’s photos of an interracial couple of Virginia – Richard and Mildred Loving, and their children. This is an addition to another starring exhibit by Tony Vaccaro, entitled “Tony Vaccaro: War, Peace, and Beauty,” which underscores the terror of war and the impact such harrowing images can have on those who view them.

Needless to say, with even local educational institutions being represented by their students (e.g., C.S.U.N. and College of the Canyons) the artful eye gifts are seemingly endless. Characterized by several helpings of triumph and heart, for instance, is the “Blind Photographers Guild” exhibit, which specifically details “Immersed: Our Experience with Autism” by photographer Bruce Hall, who has retained only about 5% of his vision, but has nevertheless taken a series of water-themed images of his autistic twin boys swimming underwater or splashing what appear to be millions of H2O particles fanning out into the air.

The “Be-hold” exhibit by Larry Gottheim is another favorite at photo l.a., as it brings attention to perhaps the lesser known “Daguerreotypes” (by Frenchman Louis Daguerre, who lived into the mid-18th century), which look more or less like photo-framed mementos. At a closer glance, however, one becomes familiarized with the historic significance of these fine-detailed items of nearly two hundred years ago, as they are pictures manifested on copper plates coated with silver.

SWIMM 11 "Swimm" Series Archival Pigment Print; 2016 Maria Svarbova (Slovakia). Photo courtesy of Momentum Fine Art

SWIMM 11 “Swimm” Series Archival Pigment Print; 2016 Maria Svarbova (Slovakia). Photo is courtesy of Momentum Fine Art

Capturing the awe-striking precision and timing of photography is the “All Kill No Fill” installation, which snapshots skaters, past and present, on their turf and in all their dynamic glory. Particular photos by Ryan Allan, Dennis McGrath, as well as a spectacular shot of a skater’s whirl through a water-flooded sidewalk by Jon Humphries, delineate the years of skill needed to produce such pinpoint results. Though the most memorable photo of this installation might be the one by CR Stecyk III from 1975, depicting a boy by the name of Jay Adams, who is poetically crouching down, still as can be in the rush of his momentum, with his left hand resting tranquilly on the pavement.

The “artbarltd” exhibitor comprises another worthwhile group of photos, notably a handful by Dylan Schwartz, who beautifully illuminates the Los Angeles skyline and the region’s astounding freeway engineering from the standpoint of the sky-tinged horizon. The widescreen photos by Jay Mark Johnson, too, demonstrate a different kind of depth and desolation – in the form of a waterfall, a seemingly never-ending train, and elephants in the midst of a refreshing trichromatic sparseness.

THE REEF is located at 1933 S Broadway in Los Angeles, Calif.

General admission to photo l.a., which begins at 11 a.m., is $20 in advance and $25 in person.

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