Filtering by Tag: photography

Wayne Lawrence Selected in Best of Miami by V Magazine

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We are proud to share that V Magazine has selected Wayne Lawrence's Cinnamon, on view at the ROSEGALLERY booth at PULSE Miami, as a fair highlight in their latest Miami dispatch.

To read the article, please click here.

John Chiara Honored by his Alma Mater CCA

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For Bay Area native John Chiara (MFA 2004), who is preparing to create a series of photographs in and of New York, swapping the Bay Area for the Big Apple presents a few challenges.

The issue is not at all about tackling New York's art scene; having had 2013 shows at Pier 24 Photography and the de Young in San Francisco, as well as at galleries in Los Angeles, Atlanta, and Zurich, it's clear that he is already coming into focus for an increasing audience worldwide.

Take a virtual walk-through of the Pier 24 show with Chiara’s work »

Rather, New York will be a challenge in terms of the subject matter it offers up, given that until now Northern California has been such a looming presence in Chiara's work. The Bay Area infuses the photography of this San Francisco-born artist like the terroir of a vintage bottle of Saint-Emilion.

Working throughout the Bay Area, Chiara takes large photographs -- as big as 50 by 80 inches, to be specific -- using a massive, custom, hand-built camera that he transports on its own trailer.

Once he's selected a location, he situates and then physically enters the camera, placing positive color photographic paper on its back wall, then using his hands to burn and dodge the image by manipulating the light coming in the lens.

The paper is then developed by spinning the drum, which agitates chemicals over the photographic paper. The process often leaves irregularities on the picture, and each picture is necessarily one of a kind, since the process involves neither film nor negatives.

Given the painstaking, manual method, progress is steady and measured. Currently, he is having another camera built in preparation for his project in New York.

Watch a KQED Spark video feature on Chiara’s process »

John Chiara, “21st at Kansas,” 2004 50 x 63 in. Unique photograph on Cibachrome paper

Finding His Artist’s -- and Teacher’s -- Voice

After graduating from the University of Utah in 1995 with a BFA in photography, Chiara found it a challenge to support his artwork financially. He had a succession of jobs, from graphic design to substitute teaching (K-12), running a screenprinting business, and web development for real estate firms.

"When I graduated," he says, "there were two jobs I swore I'd never do: work in a Joe Schmo photography lab and teach high school." Not only has he served his time in a photo lab ("a real sweatshop," he laughs), but also he now teaches part-time at Jewish Community High School of the Bay in the Western Addition neighborhood of San Francisco.

“I love that school," he says. "It's one of the best places in the city. I teach photography and sculpture. There are seven or eight kids in each class, so I feel I can really have an effect."

Chiara credits his teaching skills to his mentors at CCA: Larry Sultan, Richard Misrach, and Susan Ciriclio.

"Susan gave me really practical advice: how to format a professional teaching résumé, how to develop a teaching philosophy. She also championed programs in which grads could co-teach, which hugely improved my ability to support myself."

Ciriclio played a part in Chiara's education even before he got to CCA. "I started applying in 1995, although I wasn't accepted until 2002," he recalls. "And even before I ever arrived, Susan was helping me. We talked about my process, about Cibachrome printing and drum processing. She gave me the technical information I needed to grow as a photographer."

Advice from Larry Sultan

Nearly a decade out from his MFA, as he starts to see wider success with his photography, Chiara continues to draw on advice he was given at CCA.

"This year I sold some work. It's the first time I've hired people. It's the first time I've made some money. And I remembered something Larry Sultan told me: 'When you make money from your art, invest right back into it.' So when I heard that the manufacturers of Ilfochrome paper were discontinuing it, I bought what I hope is a lifetime supply, plus a freezer to store the paper at minus-20 degrees. I'm definitely committed to working this way."

Sultan also played a critical role in Chiara's evolution as an artist. In 2003, his photography featured jagged elements on the surface of the paper. "There was a lot of psychological disruption to the image. I felt it was meaningful to the state I was in. It was a difficult time for me -- I was dealing with a lot of stuff, working too hard running my business.

"Larry recognized the sense of controlled chaos in my work, and told me the control had gone too far. My hands were in it too much. So I started to find elements in the landscape that would disrupt the field of view. I became more of a photographer.

"Larry Sultan was the most articulate, intuitive professor. Almost shamanistic, at times. He had hyper-intuition; he'd be looking at your work and get totally under the surface of it, and then articulate his reactions so clearly."

Bay Area Roots

Chiara was born in San Francisco and grew up in the hills near Concord and Walnut Creek. As a youth, he found himself drawn to early photographers of Northern California such as Carleton Watkins, who used an oversize camera and huge glass-plate negatives.

Chiara's work combines much of that sensibility with an appreciation for the imperfections of the medium: hazy light, uneven exposures.

This past year, Chiara's geographical focus opened up. Over six months he made a series of trips to Southern California, commissioned by Rose Shoshana of Rose Gallery in Santa Monica, and subsequently showed them at her gallery. "L.A. is fascinating," says Chiara. "And for my work, it wasn’t a stretch at all."

He has also spent time recently in a different kind of art hotspot: Clarksdale, Mississippi. "That idea came from Rose Shoshana too. I really trust her, and she told me, 'I think your work would really sparkle there.' She set the whole thing up. It was kind of magical. And incredibly hot! It's so different because it's flat farmland. And it's all green. Everything's green."

Upcoming Solo Show

Wherever he sets his lens, from Contra Costa County to Clarksdale, from the East Bay to the East Coast, John Chiara continues to develop. You can see his work here in San Francisco in his upcoming March 2014 solo show at Haines Gallery.

Please click here to be directed to the CCA website.

Wayne Lawrence's 'Orchard Beach: Bronx Riviera' Reviewed in ASX

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Orchard Beach: The Bronx Riviera By Peter Baker, for ASX, November 2013

In Robert Caro’s Pulitzer Prize winning classic The Power Broker: Robert Moses and The Fall of New York (Vintage Books 1974) he describes Orchard Beach, a 1.1 mile stretch of sand that Moses himself had imported to the Bronx from Sandy Hook and Rockaway, as resting “here, in New York’s northeastern corner, so far from any built-up areas in 1934 that visitors could hardly believe they were still within the borders of America’s largest city.” Eighty years later we’ve seen the Bronx built-up, burnt down, abandoned, and later reclaimed, by an array of immigrants and a new generation born in the only borough on the American mainland. And yet, as a native Bronxite myself, I’m willing to bet the vast majority of New Yorkers, certainly those living in Manhattan or Brooklyn today, would have the same reaction as those who visited Orchard Beach in 1934: We’re still in New York City?

Earlier this month, in what was the least suspenseful election in recent memory, Bill de Blasio was named the next mayor of Gotham. Suddenly his campaign slogan, which pleads that this is “A Tale of Two Cities,” the rich and everyone else, has become populist sentiment. Rest assured, the rich are always safe in their unambiguous category. It’s the everyone else that gets complicated, embodying a thousand shades of color and a multiplex of micro economies. As the city changes and gentrification implodes, its no secret that the habitable space of the city is shrinking for average families. One thing is certain for now: The Bronx belongs to the working people of New York. And for the 1.3 million who call the borough home, they take the Bx12 bus across the Pelham Parkway, or drive to the sprawling 8,000 car parking lot, and arrive at their cramped yet beloved Riviera at Orchard Beach.

The Bronx is now considered the most diverse area in the United States and the only borough of the city with a Latino majority. The beach’s popularity should come as no surprise considering the thousands of Bronxites who come from the islands and shores of the Caribbean. In his new book Orchard Beach: The Bronx Riviera, photographer Wayne Lawrence points his lens toward New Yorkers who flee the grid of sweltering streets for this modest but sacred summer haven on the Long Island Sound. Lawrence, who migrated to New York from the West Indies island of Saint Kitts, was drawn to the underdog status of the Bronx and sees the people at Orchard Beach as “children of survivors who went through that period in the Bronx and somehow made it.” Lawrence’s book serves as a kind of high quality, all-inclusive yearbook, representing the various denizens of Orchard. The subjects participate in the making of the portrait, in a straightforward style that brings to mind Avedon or Arbus. As for the pictures themselves, they succeed or fall flat based on the level of individuality expressed by the particular subject. The inevitable problem with this process of portrait making, i.e. asking a person to stand in front of a large format camera at eye length and stare into the lens, is an apparent passivity from the subject, as a result of simply doing what the photographer has asked them to do, which isn’t much. The hope is that somehow something profound will transmit from this exchange. The least effective pictures, however, merely look like the person is thinking about having their picture taken.

In such projects we hear about the photographer’s desire to convey the dignity of a people, an admirable gesture no doubt, and a familiar note in the history of photography. But, more often than not such amicable attempts wind up being reductive or sentimental. As Geoff Dyer writes of Dorothea Lange “[She] was all the time keen to discover and represent people’s dignity. As became the case with Paul Strand, the danger of this approach is that people can be reduced to their dignity.” In the strongest pictures, and there are many in Lawrence’s book, there is a kind of resistance and attitude from the individual, who while consenting to the photographer, still pushes back with a sense of self that overwhelms the process. In this case the most engaging pictures by far happen to be of women. We see the women of Wayne Lawrence’s Orchard Beach represented with more distinctiveness and intrigue. The beach of course prompts sexuality, but it’s the combination of toughness and vulnerability that makes the pictures of women memorable. Gestures and stances vary, and the viewer is invited to eye the details of the body, the fierce assortment of swimsuits and jewelry, tattoos that read like proverbs, and the multifarious shades of skin basking in the mixed light.

To read the article at ASX, please click here.

Tomoko Sawada SIGN Reception

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We had a great time with Tomoko Sawada at the opening of her ROSEGALLERY exhibition SIGN. Didn't make it to our opening? See pictures below from our evening with Tomoko. If you have not checked out our exhibition, you will have until November 16 to stop by the gallery and see Tomoko's latest work.

Abelardo Morell 'Photographing the Majesty of the Common'

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Abelardo Morell went from a small Cuban beach town to New York City in 1962. The streets and its people were chaotic, unfamiliar and overwhelming to a 14-year-old exile who barely spoke English.

“Suddenly, I’m in the biggest city in the world and it’s crazy,” he recalled. “I remember feeling this is more than I can ever comprehend.”

Photography helped him start sorting it out, as he made street pictures in the tradition of Garry Winogrand and Lee Friedlander. But it wasn’t until 1991 that he discovered how to tame the urban landscape.

He crammed it into a room.

Converting a room into a huge camera obscura — a centuries-old optical technique that predates the pinhole camera — he took eight-hour exposures of interiors where the outside world was projected onto the walls. The results — as in the Times Square cityscape rich with kinetic detail that he did for The New York Times Magazine — were stunning and surreal. They combined the expanse of the street with the monastic quiet of a small, darkened space.

“In these New York camera obscura pictures there is a psychological component,” he said. “It’s encompassing something so big in something more knowable. To domesticate New York, so to speak.”

Those are apt sentiments about his own work, which spans 30 years and features everything from camera obscura and “tent camera” pictures to scenes from home and visual meditations on everyday objects, like books or money. The result is “The Universe Next Door,” a traveling retrospective that opens Tuesday at the J. Paul Getty Museum in Los Angeles, where Mr. Morell’s sizable oeuvre becomes knowable.

“One of the most significant things about Morell is that he is grounded in the past but is also looking forward,” said Paul Martineau, the Getty’s associate curator of photographs. “One of the things that struck me about his work, which I saw years ago before I even knew I wanted to be a curator, was the authenticity of his work. He remained true to himself and did not chase the market.”

The market has since caught up.

New York was fateful for him and his family. His father, who had been in the Cuban Navy, settled in New York, where he worked as the superintendent of five buildings on the West Side. His son and namesake attended public schools, thinking he would be an engineer.

“New York forced me to understand the United States and this new culture aggressively,” Mr. Morell said. “It was scary, but wonderful, too. There was incredible activity and sights. Then I went to Maine and that sealed the deal. Maine was a different culture for me.”

It was at Bowdoin College, in Brunswick, Me., where he discovered photography, idolizing those who celebrated “the chaos of the social landscape, the poetry of the street,” like Cartier-Bresson and Helen Levitt.

“I discovered my own language,” he said. “My English was not so good, but my photography seemed sophisticated. My eyes were sophisticated. I had found something important in my life.”

Though he took some time off from college and worked a variety of odd jobs, he returned, earned his degree and eventually enrolled in Yale’s M.F.A. program. He continued to work in the vein of “the street people” — Friedlander and Winogrand. But that changed drastically when he and his wife, Lisa McElaney, had the first of their two children. Being able to spend the day roaming the streets with a camera was not an option. He felt some resentments, but he had to stay indoors.

Then he decided he had to respond to these feelings.

“Maybe instead of taking ironic pictures in the street while hidden, maybe I can slow down and look at things more directly and with love,” he said. “It made me discover the nature of normality and how weird it is, like photographing a baby’s milk bottle. It felt beautiful to try to make a portrait of something so common. The majesty of common things became apparent to me.”

There is a playfulness in some of the pictures, which only makes sense. When Mr. Morell noticed how at a certain time of year the sun cast a shadow on the ground that mimicked his home’s outline, he drew lines in the yard and placed his two children in the scene.

While raising a family, he also taught. In class, he demonstrated the basics of optics by covering the windows, cutting a hole and turning his classroom into a pinhole camera. That exercise got him to thinking about taking pictures inside a camera obscura, which led to the panoramas that caught people’s attention in the 1990s.

If fatherhood slowed him down, this new technique took it to a new level. Using a 4-by-5 film camera set up inside the room, it took him eight hours to make a single exposure.

“I like that it took eight hours,” he said. “I come from a working-class background, and that seems like a good amount of time to be working. I’d start in the morning, leave and go see a movie, a show at the Met or have lunch. It’s a weird experience knowing I’m making a picture, but it’s not like Garry Winogrand in the street. It was something cooking.”

Over the years, Mr. Morell has refined his technique, switching to digital and, more recently, devising with his assistant, C. J. Heyliger, the tent camera — a mobile camera obscura that lets him do pictures projected onto the ground via a periscope that peeks out of the tent’s top.

“We’re able to bring images of the surrounding landscape to the ground itself,” he said. “You see horses running or mountains. It felt like another really natural way to marry two outdoor realities. These incredible images are naturally made, and the ground changes all the time. If there is sand or dirt or ice, it changes the nature of the patina on the photographs.”

He jokes that he feels as if he has a foot in the 19th century, like the great photographers of the American West. He is less amused by the expectations some contemporary viewers have that he fit into what they think a Cuban-born artist should be doing. At a talk in Texas, he said, one woman said his work did not feel like that of a Cuban photographer.

“Certain people are put in a ghetto of what we are supposed to be interested in,” he said. “I love having been born in Cuba. But a Cuban can also make pictures of light bulbs. I don’t want to be put in a ghetto that you can only do pictures of old cars.”

Mr. Morell is now working on several new projects and commissions. Next year he plans to go to France with his tent and visit where Monet painted. Soon, he will go to Spain, where he has a commission to render El Greco’s Toledo on the sidewalk. Another commission in Georgia will have him photographing trees in the South.

In Los Angeles, he plans on talking to middle schoolers, especially to encourage the Latino students to explore the world and their options, and not get forced into someone else’s idea of what they cannot — or should — do.

“When this woman told me in Texas that my work did not look like a Cuban’s, I don’t speak for every Cuban, but I came to this country to be free,” he said. “Without meaning to, people try to put you in a ghetto and that is not always helpful.”

To view the article on the New York Time Blog, please click here.

Mark Cohen's new exhibition 'Dark Knees' reviewed in TimeOut Paris

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Time Out says:

In the 1970s, when Mark Cohen began to take his first pictures, ‘street photography’ dominated the American photographic scene. This Pennsylvanian native appropriated the movement while putting his own spin on it: instinct. Without conforming, his camera always at the ready, Cohen pinched bits of ideas from his contemporaries and reassembled the pieces into an infinite puzzle.

Hands, shoulders, legs and mouths mix together like a kaleidoscopic portrait, brave and immediate. Sometimes rendered sepulchral by the shock of the flash, other times touched with a strange overtones, as if his lens managed to capture what the eye didn’t have time to see, his impulsive images always surprise. They see reality differently and tell, in counter-relief, the decline of a small mining town.

To read the article on the TimeOut Paris site, please click here.

Photograph Magazine Curator Profile: Judith Keller

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Los Angeles is not only the center of the film business, but increasingly a destination for photography lovers, and much of that has to do with the mammoth holdings of the J. Paul Getty Museum. Judith Keller, the Getty’s senior curator of photographs, joined the museum as associate curator in 1986, just two years after Weston Naef founded the photographs department there, and she took over as head of the department after Naef retired, in 2010.

A Midwestern transplant to the West Coast, Keller was born outside of Chicago and raised in Pennsylvania and Indiana. Her father, a professor of speech and communications, and her mother, who stayed home to raise four children, were avid museumgoers, she says, who regularly took her to the Art Institute of Chicago. She went on to earn both a BA in art history and a master’s in museum practice and art history at the University of Michigan.

Keller knew from an early age that she wanted to do museum work, but she couldn’t have foreseen the size and prominence of photography departments such as the Getty’s, which now has 7,400 square feet of space for photography and some 38,000 prints (or 78,000 objects, if you count individual plates within albums for instance). The schedule of exhibitions has grown as well, from five small shows a year to six or seven large exhibitions. “It’s a much more ambitious schedule now than we ever had before,” says Keller. The Getty often has several photography shows up concurrently: For instance, The Universe Next Door: Abelardo Morell, which travels from the Art Institute of Chicago, opens October 1, as does At the Window: The Photographer’s View. A small show on photography and architecture opens October 15, and Werner Herzog’s video installation, Hearsay of the Soul, is on view through January 19.

Keller describes the Getty’s photography collection as encyclopedic in terms of the West. “It started out as really a 19th- and 20th century collection that originally stopped at World War II,” she adds. “The collection used to be weak in post-1950s work, but one of the things I’ve been doing in the last few years is to try to enhance the late 20th century aspects of the collection.” The Getty has recently acquired conceptual work by Robert Rauschenberg, Ed Ruscha, Sarah Charlesworth, Allan Sekula, and William Wegman, among others.

Keller has put her own stamp on the museum in terms of collecting photography from Asia as well: she organized Photography from New China, in 2010, and Japan’s Modern Divide: The Photographs of Hiroshi Hamaya and Kansuke Yamamoto, which closed at the end of the summer. About five years ago, Keller began the push to collect Asian photography, particularly from Japan. “We had a few pictures that Sam Wagstaff had collected, including a number of albums by 19th-century Japanese photographers,” she says. “But it was something I was especially interested in, so I started making trips to Japan.”

Given that Los Angeles has a huge population of people from Asia and East Asia, adds Keller, “It makes complete sense that we collect photography from that part of the world.” But more importantly, she says, “The history of photography in Japan is as strong as any other and as old as any other. It should be published and exhibited.”

-Jean Dystra

To read the article in Photograph magazine online, please click here.

For more information on upcoming J. Paul Getty Museum photography exhibitions, including Abelardo Morell: The Universe Next Door, please click here.

Abelardo Morell's Outside In will be on view at ROSEGALLERY starting November 23, concurrently with the The Universe Next Door at the J. Paul Getty Museum.

PAC/LA Thursday Night with Tomoko Sawada

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THURSDAY NIGHT AT ROSEGALLERY WITH TOMOKO SAWADA

Join us at the opening of Tomoko Sawada's latest works SIGN and SKIN at ROSEGALLERY. The gallery has arranged a meeting with the artist for PAC/LA members. September 26, 6-8 PM.

Not a member of PAC/LA? To participate in events like Thursday Night with Tomoko Sawada, click here.

PAC/LA is an independent, non-profit organization fostering individual and community-wide appreciation of the photographic arts.

Throughout the year, PAC/LA offers:

  • Artist Talks
  • Studio Visits
  • Educational Programming
  • Gallery Visits
  • Private Collection Tours
  • Curator-led Walkthroughs of Museum Exhibitions
  • Travel Opportunities beyond Los Angeles

Tony Ray-Jones and Martin Parr Photographing the English

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Photographers Tony Ray-Jones and Martin Parr were united by their gently satirical documentation of our national characteristics.

Excerpted from: Tony Ray-Jones and Martin Parr: Photographing the English by Lucy Davies.

Martin Parr on the influence of Tony Ray-Jones on his photography: [In] 1970 [at] a lecture theatre at Manchester Polytechnic, where an 18-year-old Martin Parr was studying photography. Enter Bill Jay, on a mission to infuse the country’s fledgling photo­graphers with the same energy and outlook that he had seen in the work Ray-Jones had shown him. Parr, now 61, remembers hearing Jay talking about Ray-Jones. 'That [visual] language that [Ray-Jones] caught, that he encapsulated, was able to portray the atmosphere and the feeling of the time in a way that hadn’t yet been achieved. Even though there had been lots of photographs of Britain, such as the images in Picture Post, his just felt different. They brought something else… a sort of street theatre, or in this case beach theatre.’

Portobello Road Market, 1966, by Tony Ray-Jones PHOTO: Tony Ray-Jones © National Media Museum Next month visitors to Media Space, the new home for the National Photography Collection at the Science Museum, London, will be treated to a display of these vintage Ray-Jones prints, alongside 'The Non-conformists’, the work Parr produced when he moved, in 1972, with a group of other Manchester graduates, to Hebden Bridge, Yorkshire, and set up the Albert Street Workshop. It is a study of the local community, in chapel, at tea, queuing for Steven Spielberg’s Jaws. Parr has always acknowledged that this work was fundamentally inspired by Ray-Jones. 'He learnt the way that people made their own world, generated their own world, from, in this case, the streets of America. He applied that idea to the UK. That’s what inspired me.’

Silver Jubliee street party, 1977, Todmorden, by Martin Parr. PHOTO: MARTIN PARR. MAGNUM PHOTOS

Ray-Jones died of leukaemia in 1972, aged 31, but his experiments were everything for the generation of photographers that followed. 'There’s a certain benefit of hindsight,’ Parr says. 'You can think differently 40 years on, and we’ll never know if Ray-Jones would have approved. But his best shots from back then still stand very well, they’re still brilliant images. The Beachy Head boat trip, and the shots of Margate and Glyndebourne. Those pictures are icons of documentary photography in the UK; they’re difficult to better.’

  • Only in England: Photographs by Tony Ray-Jones and Martin Parr, at the Media Space, Science Museum, London SW7, from September 21 (sciencemuseum.org.uk/onlyinengland); National Media Museum, Bradford, through March 16 (nationalmediamuseum.org.uk). Martin Parr: The Non-conformists (Aperture, £30), out October 7, can be ordered for £24 plus £1.35 p&p from Telegraph Books (0844-871 1514; books.telegraph.co.uk)

Announcing William Eggleston's New Steidl Title 'At Zenith'

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At Zenith. Photographs by William Eggleston. Steidl, 2014. 88 pp., 40 color illustrations, 13½x10¼".

Publisher's Description In April 1979, a book of fifteen colour photographs by William Eggleston was published in a limited edition of twenty. The photographs were taken from the second chapter of an unpublished larger work entitled Wedgewood Blue. Amidst his publications Chromes (2011), Los Alamos Revisited (2012), and the upcoming Democratic Forest (2014) and Election Eve (2016), all documenting his lifetime work, At Zenith constitutes a calm and experimental intermezzo from Eggleston's familiar loudness and intensity of colours. The photographer pointed his camera at the sky to focus on the clouds rolling by.

The book is scheduled for release on March 2014. It can be pre-ordered here.

Bill Bush for Artweek.LA : Los Angeles Then and Now

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Bruce Davidson: 1964 / 2012 | Bruce Davidson first came to Los Angeles in 1964 on assignment for Esquire magazine. As a young New Yorker in L.A., he found himself at odds with what he described as a "cultural desert with acrid air, bumper-to-bumper traffic, tall palms, and seedy Hollywood types." Davidson approached this foreign landscape with the sardonic eye of an outsider looking in. The resulting images, shot with a 35mm camera, play with archetypes and stereotypes of the city with a quick and clever irony: bodybuilders and starlets; sunbathers and signwavers; the similarly glimmering cars and glistening surf of a beach parking lot; desperate hopefuls walking the streets in search of something more.

Nearly 45 years after Davidson first visited Los Angeles, he returned to the city with a vastly different shooting agenda. The crowded and buzzing social landscape of 1964 now serves as a distant backdrop for the quiet integrity of Davidson's clawed up yuccas, attenuated palms, and parched hillsides. This exhibition marries two series, the wry and the romantic, to present a multifaceted portrait of our city.

Bruce Davidson: 1964 / 2012 closes September 21 at RoseGallery

For the most comprehensive calendar of art events throughout Los Angeles go to Artweek.LA.

Paris Photo 2013 Agenda: Bruce Davidson Los Angeles 1964/2012

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Bruce Davidson first came to Los Angeles in 1964 on assignment for Esquire magazine. As a young New Yorker in LA, he found himself at odds with what he described as a “cultural desert with acrid air, bumper-to-bumper traffic, tall palms, and seedy Hollywood types.” Davidson approached this foreign landscape with the sardonic eye of an outsider looking in. The resulting images, shot with a 35mm camera, play with archetypes and stereotypes of the city with a quick and clever irony: bodybuilders and starlets; sunbathers and signwavers; the similarly glimmering cars and glistening surf of a beach parking lot; desperate hopefuls walking the streets in search of something more.

Nearly 45 years after Davidson first visited Los Angeles, he returned to the city with a vastly different shooting agenda. The crowded and buzzing social landscape of 1964 now serves as a distant backdrop for the quiet integrity of Davidson’s clawed up yuccas, attenuated palms, and parched hillsides. The Nature of LA looks at plant life and the politics of water in Los Angeles with a newfound compassion and patience. Using a 4x5 view camera on a tripod slows his photographic process and allows these contemplative images to take shape. The word nature’s dual meaning— both flora and fauna, and character or temperament—situates the work within a broader scope than straight photographic representation. The series speaks to man’s impact on the land and nature’s prevailing will. He writes, “hundreds of towering palm trees reach to the sky and give poetic posture to concrete freeways, tacky strip malls, and the endless grid of local streets.” No longer at odds with a foreign landscape, Davidson lets the “pockets of beauty” emerge from the so-called “cultural desert” of his youth.

In the intervening years between these bodies of work, the culture of Los Angeles has not changed significantly, but rather the artist’s experience of it. This exhibition marries the two series, the wry and the romantic, to present a multifaceted portrait of our city.

To view the Paris Photo Agenda post and see what other participants are up to, click here.

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(© Asako Narahashi, courtesy Rose Gallery, Los Angeles)

Once again from the Pier 24 photography space in San Francisco, this is a view of Mount Fuji from the surface of Lake Kawaguchiko, taken in 2003 by Asako Narahashi. Of course, the true subject of the work is its world-famous doppelganger, “The Great Wave off Kanagawa”, woodblock printed by Katsushika Hokusai in about 1831. The differences matter as much as any likenesses. Hokusai shows us the disembodied view of a kind of omniscient narrator – an “omniscient looker”, you could say – who seems to glimpse the struggling sailors almost by accident as he takes in distant Mount Fuji. (Shades of W.H. Auden’s “Musee des Beaux Arts”). Whereas with Narahashi, we see the mountain through modern eyes immersed in the water but made impervious to it by technology. Water splashes onto the glass of the floating photographer’s lens but has no effect; the sun’s flare off the surface of the lake is forced to take on the hexagonal shape of the camera’s aperture. Narahashi reflects on her culture’s past, from its present.

-Blake Gopnik

'About Face' at the Nelson-Atkins Museum

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Kansas City's preeminent art museum, The Nelson-Atkins Museum, has recently opened an exhibition entitled ABOUT FACE focusing on contemporary photographic portraiture. We are proud to announce that ROSEGALLERY artists Ken Kitano, Jocelyn Lee, Laura McPhee, Lise Sarfati, and Tomoko Sawada are included in this exhibition. Read on for their press release.

This exhibition will explore the breadth and global diversity of contemporary photographic portraiture since 2000, highlighting recent acquisitions to the museum's permanent collection.

About Face will include works by twenty-nine artists from the United States, England, Canada, France, Germany, Russia, Japan, Iran and South Africa. Though each of these photographers approaches portrait-making differently, certain thematic threads resonate throughout the show, including questions of racial, cultural, ethnic, class and gender identity; the relationship between individuals and typologies; the way photographic processes themselves inform meaning; the relevance of historical precedents to contemporary practice; and the impact of media stereotypes on self-presentation. Considered collectively, the works in About Face offer a provocative and engaging forum for considering the question: how do we define portraiture today?

For this exhibition, co-curators Jane L. Aspinwall and April M. Watson at The Nelson-Atkins Museum of Art are partnering with FlakPhoto.com creator Andy Adams to create a collaborative exhibition project focusing on contemporary portraiture.

The project will present two distinct, simultaneous exhibitions: About Face, our in-gallery exhibition at the Nelson-Atkins, and Making Pictures of People, a digital exhibition presented online for web-based audiences worldwide. Visitors will be able to access the Flak Photo exhibition via touch screens in the gallery and on mobile devices outside the museum.

The goal of our collaboration is twofold: to celebrate the complementary experiences of engaging with photographs as objects and as images, and to connect museum visitors in Kansas City with an international community deeply engaged in thinking about portraiture and contemporary photographic practice.

ABOUT FACE is on view at the Nelson Atkins Museum from August 9, 2013 - January 19, 2014. Click here to be explore to their site.

Image titles: Jocelyn Lee, Untitled (Julia and Greenery), 2005 and Lise Sarfati, Emily, 2850 Sunset Boulevard, 2010

Robbert Flick at the Smithsonian Museum of American Art

Added on by ROSEGALLERY.

Three very different styles of landscape photography are being served up in a small but savory sampling of images from deep in the collection of the Smithsonian American Art Museum. Part of a series of exhibitions meant to showcase objects that rarely see the light of day, “Landscapes in Passing” features work from a trio of photographers, each of whom is represented by a single body of black-and-white work: Elaine Mayes, Robbert Flick and Steve Fitch.

The show spans a single decade and begins with Mayes’s “Autolandscape” project documenting her 1971 cross-country road trip from San Francisco to Amherst, Mass. Shot from inside a moving car — sometimes while she was driving — the 18 images are arranged in geographic order and include pictures from 11 states. (Only one image of Utah, hung outside the entrance to the show, is out of sequence.)

Because her camera was moving, there’s a bit of blur in most of the images, which only adds to the feeling of exhilarating speed and spontaneity that comes from the fact that Mayes usually wasn’t even looking through the viewfinder. As a result, there’s a random quality to the subject matter, which avoids the photogenic grandeur of scenic parklands for the banality of street signs, offramps, distant mountains and telephone poles. Most of Mayes’s sea-to-shining-sea travelogue emphasizes hypnotic monotony over purple mountain majesties.

“Autolandscape” contains a double meaning, referring both to the artist’s vehicular vantage point and to the automatic nature of the shooting, which was guided primarily by instinct, not aesthetics. Flick’s photos, from his 1980 “Sequential Views” project, are similarly robotic.

Each of Flick’s works contains a 10-by-10 grid of 100 postage-stamp-size images of such Los Angeles area neighborhoods as Beverly Hills and Venice Beach. Like Mayes, Flick is also a documentarian of the landscape, except he’s moving through it on foot, not in a car. Shot at prescribed intervals, his grid of Inglewood, for example, documents a stroll down 10 blocks of Regent Street. Look very closely at the left-hand row, and you can just make out the street signs.

Surprisingly, the effect is less numbing than you might think. Shooting the quintessential car culture as a pedestrian — with his shutter blinking every few steps or so — Flick creates an almost filmlike effect, like an extended tracking shot. Evoking frames of a movie, Flick’s sequential views aren’t so much panoramas as miniature “cineramas.”

Steve Fitch’s work is unlike anything else in the show. Shot between 1971 and 1976 for a series (and book) called “Diesels and Dinosaurs,” the images document a Western America characterized by truck stops, motels, drive-ins, roadside reptile zoos and dilapidated dinosaur sculptures. Wit — along with careful composition — replaces the seemingly haphazard, deadpan tone of Mayes’s and Flick’s work.

Most of Fitch’s humor derives from irony. His idea of “nature” or “landscape” is epitomized by Woody Woodpecker on the screen at a Dallas drive-in or a mural of mountains painted onto the wall of the Big Chief Motel on Highway 80 in Gila Bend, Ariz.

It’s tempting to dismiss Fitch as the least landscape-y of the three artists. After all, his subject, more often than not, is vernacular architecture.

On one level, his work is about displacement, not place. Still, like Mayes and Flick, he conveys a real sense of a country in which no one — least of all the artist — stays in one place anymore.

The Story Behind the Work

Flick’s series of sequential views were shot for the Los Angeles Documentary Project, a survey sponsored by the National Endowment for the Arts, that put into service seven photographers (in addition to the Dutch-born Flick) who were known for their work in California: Gusmano Cesaretti, Joe Deal, Douglas Hill, John Humble, Bill Owen, Susan Ressler and Max Yavno.

Surprisingly, all of the artists shot in black-and-white, other than Owen, who focused on swimming pools, clubs and other colorful SoCal stereotypes.

That may be because the NEA survey project was as much conceptual as retinal. Although there aren’t many people in Flick’s images — a rare exception being his grid of a crowded Venice Beach on Labor Day weekend — his photographs are all about man’s effect on the environment. There isn’t much nature in his pictures. Mostly, it’s restricted to the street signs that evoke an American myth of rusticity that exists only in the place names on urban maps: Prairie, Eastwood, Hillcrest, Locust, Fir and Eucalyptus.

To read the article in its original format please click here.

Camilo Vergara MLK Poster-bombing in Camden, NJ

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By Julia Terruso, Inquirer Staff Writer

POSTED: August 19, 2013

As workers in Washington were removing scaffolding from the $120 million Martin Luther King Jr. statue on Saturday, Camilo José Vergara stood on a rickety ladder in Camden, taping images of King to the windows of an abandoned diner.

From each poster, a mural of King painted mostly by amateur artists in some of the nation's poorest cities looked out at a desolate strip of Mount Ephraim Avenue in Camden near West Collingswood.

"It seems this fits King, the King I imagine," said Vergara, a photographer whose photos of these murals commemorate the 50th anniversary of the civil rights leader's march, set for Washington later this month. "He was a person for everyone. This expands the celebration, the tribute, to other areas and raises questions. You have to look at this and say, 'What happened to the dream in Camden?' "

Vergara's posters of King, who struggled against poverty and segregation, covered the windows of the historic Elgin Diner in a parking lot blanketed in broken glass and litter. A syringe and a dirty diaper lay next to discarded chip bags and liquor bottles.

Vergara, a nationally renowned artist, approached the City of Camden through a friend to showcase his posters, but when he didn't hear back, he opted to take a more independent approach.

"Putting these up in City Hall as posters standing on easels or something like that didn't interest me too much," he said. "The idea was to do this in venues you would not pick for an exhibit."

For 40 years, Vergara has chronicled urban blight through photography; along the way, he has captured hundreds of murals dedicated to King. Last month, Vergara, originally from Chile and now living in New York City, became the first photographer awarded the National Humanities Medal. He's the author of six photography books, and a seventh, Harlem: The Unmaking of a Ghetto, is due out in November.

In February the U.S. State Department commissioned 1,000 posters of his mural photos to be sent all over the world. His mission is to make sure they are also visible in U.S. cities where their message is most relevant.

"You get a very different perspective when you put King in D.C., in Independence Mall, where the focus will be accomplishments in the black struggle, but here in Camden, in L.A., in Brockton [Mass.], in Gary [Ind.] the questions are very, very different," said Vergara, who already has poster exhibits on buildings in the Bronx and plans for more in Baltimore, Los Angeles, Brockton, and Detroit.

Just as dawn broke Saturday, Vergara pulled up to the diner with a friend, Columbia law professor William Simon, who assured him that in the absence of no-trespassing signs their "poster-bombing" was technically legal.

Indeed, Peter Abdallah, Realtor for the property, later said he planned to leave the artwork up until the building is demolished in the next few months. The property is still for sale, but Abdallah said he was in talks with a developer to make it a Family Dollar store.

In about an hour, Vergara's team had covered the front of the diner with mural images of King from a garage in Chicago, an abandoned factory in Detroit, and even part of the "Equal Rights" mural that remains at Callowhill and Second Streets in Philadelphia.

Vergara's photos are in many cases the only existing record of these public artworks.

The representations of King reflect the communities where the murals were painted; sometimes his likeness is Asian or Hispanic. He might appear with Nelson Mandela, John F. Kennedy, or Cesar Chavez.

Passersby stopped to ask questions. A few hoped the diner was reopening.

Joseph Adams walked by on his way to a barbershop. Adams, 50, grew up in Camden and called the diner a historic fixture.

Despite the deterioration of the city, he pointed out the obvious progress in front of him. "Who knows if blacks could even eat here when he was coming up?" Adams said of King. Then he lamented a lack of leadership to carry out King's dream.

"It's alive, but we still got a long way to go," Adams said. "I think he would have tried to make it better."

Click on this link to watch a video of Vergara's installation:

Camilo Vergara poster-bombs the Elgin Diner in Camden, NJ

Abelardo Morell: The Universe Next Door at the Art Institute of Chicago

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Over the course of the past 25 years, Cuban-born American artist Abelardo Morell has become internationally renowned for works that employ the language of photography to explore visual surprise and wonder. This exhibition of over 100 works made from 1986 to the present is the first retrospective of Morell’s photographs in 15 years. Showing a range of works and series—including many newer color photographs never exhibited before—the exhibition reveals how this persistently creative artist has returned to a photographic vocabulary as a source of great inspiration.

Morell came with his family to the United States as a teenager in 1962. He received a scholarship to attend Bowdoin College in Maine, where he first took a photography course; he later completed an MFA in photography at Yale University, looking to street photographers such as Henri Cartier-Bresson and Robert Frank as models. After the birth of his son in 1986, he began making large-format pictures around his home, examining common household objects with childlike curiosity. As a professor at Massachusetts College of Art and Design, he experimented with optics in his teaching and initiated a series in which he turned an entire room into a camera obscura, photographing the projection of the outside world juxtaposed onto the surfaces of the room’s interior.

These twin poles—examining objects and images with fresh vision and exploring simple optics in myriad forms—have been consistent orientation points for the many series that have since followed. Morell has turned his camera on conveyors of cultural meaning such as books, maps, money, and museums in extensive series that explore the perception of images. He has experimented with techniques as varied as photograms, still-life tableaux, stop-motion studies, and most recently the tent camera—a kind of portable camera obscura that throws the image of a landscape upon the ground’s surface. Now, after decades of working exclusively in black and white, he has begun to embrace color, both returning to old themes and series to view them in a new spectrum and pioneering new ways to understand optical effects, nature, and picture making. Showcasing his ever-inventive practice, this retrospective traces Morell’s innovative career as he continues to mine the essential strangeness and complexity of images.

Image: Abelardo Morell. Camera Obscura: View of the Brooklyn Bridge in Bedroom, 2009. The J. Paul Getty Museum, Los Angeles, purchased with funds provided by Richard and Alison Crowell, Daniel Greenberg and Susan Steinhauser, and anonymous donors in honor of James N. Wood, 2011.62. © Abelardo Morell, courtesy of Edwynn Houk Gallery, New York.

To watch the video Abelardo Morell on Photography, Life, and Dancing click here.

Abelardo Morell: The Universe Next Door is currently on view at the Art Institute of Chicago. When the exhibition closes September 2, it will travel to the J. Paul Getty Museum in Los Angeles. ROSEGALLERY will be mounting an exhibition concurrently with The Universe Next Door opening November 23, 2013.