I always knew that opening a gallery, especially a contemporary photography gallery in a photo-saturated era, wasn’t necessarily the brightest idea. Making or showing art is not of itself a particularly practical notion, especially for one without deep pockets. Despite the risks, I’ve thrown myself headlong into exhibition projects of some sort or other with as much gusto as I’ve been able. Better to try than not. Yet the concept of “Build it and they will come” is different from build it and they will buy.
Still, Spot Photo Works was a worthy project, offering opportunities for artists to show images in a lovely space in a high-profile city. We were able to offer some challenging work and build a supportive and diverse community, which I am deeply thankful for. As I console myself with closing the gallery, I’ve come to think of it as a really sweet love affair. Beautiful, but without the footing a relationship needs to last.
On Saturday, we wrapped the photographs and pulled the last nail from the wall. Spot Photo Works is no more. I leafed through the guest book this morning and saw the very last comment was “Beautiful work!” What more can one ask?
Personally, I’m sinking myself back into freelance photo editing and writing for artists so if you need another eye and an inquisitive mind; I need a gig. I can be reached at firstname.lastname@example.org.
In closing (literally), I want to thank you for your attendance, conversation and good wishes. It matters and will be remembered.
Pioneers of the Palm Springs tiny home movement, embracing the less is best concept, are the focus of Los Angeles photographer Nancy Baron’s highly anticipated new exhibition Beautiful Trailer Town. Opening at SPOT Photo Works, 6679 Sunset Boulevard, Hollywood, with a reception for the artist on Saturday, January 16, 2016 from 6:00 pm to 9:00 pm, Baron’s astute look at the resort town’s mobile home parks brings new life to the notion of “dream homes.” We are treated to a redefined and color-saturated sense of the notion of home, as interpreted by the community’s inhabitants. The exhibition will run from January 16 through March 11, 2016.
Following the success of her first book The Good Life > Palm Springs, published by Kehrer Verlag, Nancy Baron has continued to pursue her photographic look at her adopted desert community: “Some years ago I was involved in a group project to document the economic downturn in Southern California. I was assigned the Palm Springs area, where I have a second home. I was relatively new to Palm Springs at the time, so my forced meanderings were a great way to discover my town. I was surprised to find a wide range of lifestyle choices in such a small town. Whether in exclusive enclaves or mobile home parks, residents were taking advantage of the desert magic. The charm of the mobile home parks, in particular, pulled me in – encouraging me to look closer. Residents were surprisingly friendly to a stranger walking around with a camera. I felt at home.”
Although the parks have themes, residents are given a wide berth for personal expression in their own homes, encouraging a diverse community that defies stereotype. Pride of ownership can be had at a cost far less than a condo, with no neighbors above or below. If yearning for a change of scenery, mobile home dwellers are always free to hitch up and move – yet their homes often appear to be firmly planted, with landscaping, hardscaping, and even additions. With no historic overlay preservation codes to hamper them, creativity abounds. Extra fancy or plain and simple, there are no two homes alike.”
Beautiful Trailer Town is Nancy Baron’s third Los Angeles solo exhibition. Her work has been published in Conde Nast Traveler, The New York Times, American Photo, Architectural Digest, Italy, PDN, Mother Jones, Slate, Interview, Germany, Fast Company and Dwell.
For years, I’ve been a frequent visitor to Melodie McDaniel’s web site. Leafing through her personal photographs, rather like the way I’d sort through my shoebox of so-called collectibles as a child, often finding precious nuggets – gems of images worth treasuring.
I’d fallen in love with a series of photographs she called Film Noir, a grouping of images that struck me as unique. Shot in classic, black and white film, my overriding thought when looking at Film Noir’s African American subjects was of the abundance of dignity they possessed, a trait rare in the representation of blacks in this country. Or should I say lack of representation? Whether dressed up for church service or lounging in yards with friends and children, or holding court at a local dance hall, a tremendous sense of pride seems to emanate from McDaniel’s subjects.
When we began working together to form an exhibition at Spot Photo Works in Los Angeles, I soon discovered the photographer’s vast archive, featuring a wide range of subjects that interested her. The daughter of an African and Native American father and a white Jewish mother, her photographs seek common ground and equal representation. “Coming from bi-racial parents, I’m always trying to comprehend where I fit in the world. I’m drawn to sub-cultures and outsiders probably because of my own feelings of otherness,” says McDaniel.
The photographs in American Spectator, are excerpts from several of her series of personal works, from within and beyond Film Noir. She has an explorer’s eye and her investigations of faith and race and of a variety of cultures speak to an endless curiosity and an ability to witness without judgment.
Photographically speaking, Melodie McDaniel looks so at home in whatever world she’s in that her images look unaffected by her presence, whether they are staged or documented. It’s one quality, I suppose, that has contributed to her reputation as a sought-after still photographer as well as a highly successful commercial director. McDaniel’s photographs allow the audience access in, along with the warmth or heartache or joy or resignation or alienation that comes with that access.
Melodie McDaniel graduated from Art Center College of Design and lives in Los Angeles. Her work has been published and broadcast internationally. American Spectator was photographed between 1993 and 2014 in Pennsylvania, Mississippi, Kentucky, New York and California.
Spot Photo Works presents Melodie McDaniel: American Spectator, from September 19 through November 9, 2015. An opening for the artist is scheduled from 6:00 – 9:00 p.m., September 19th. Regular gallery hours are Monday through Friday 10:30 a.m. to 5:30 p.m. Spot is located at 6679 Sunset Boulevard, Los Angeles.
Moon River, Fly Me to the Moon, Blue Moon, How High the Moon, Bad Moon Rising, Clare de Lune, Moondance, Harvest Moon, Moonshadow. A nearly endless supply of songs named for the moon reflect our delight in a particularly striking lunar display. In Los Angeles photographer J.K. Lavin’s images, the moon has a huge presence, yet it remains unseen throughout the fourteen photographs in her exhibition opening Saturday, July 11 at Spot Photo Works in Hollywood. The moon is the lead character in the narrative, having tremendous impact on the course of events, yet it does its handiwork off-screen, out of frame.
J.K. Lavin takes to the streets deep into the evening when the full moon lights the night skies to photograph for her series Mapping the History of the Moon. With only the company of the moon as her guide and luminance, Lavin creates beautifully saturated color photographs that make us feel as though the night air is upon our skin and the incandescent window light on a porch shines through the hedge just across the street. There is a sense of home and a sense of belonging and there is the sense of observing a world just outside of reach. Someone is home, but it may not be you or I.
With the passing of her parents, Lavin wrote: “After deconstructing my family home, I stepped outside under a full moon and took a breath. I felt strangely at peace. A ritual began that night of photographing once a month by the light of the full moon. That sense of night and timelessness allows me to experience a world where I feel most at home, where in the stillness I can sense my mortality. I instinctively create the photographs that reflect what remains of the day after dark, the essence of light and life distilled into color, gestures, and liminal moments of memory and time.”
A softness of focus that might be bothersome in many contexts, feels apropos in this case. While a subtle blur conveys the lack of ability to fully make out the details of a neighborhood at night, we also have the sense that sometimes we’re glad to let the clarity go and relax a bit. What remains is an overall languid quality, the sensation one has of taking a nightly stroll on a warm evening. Mapping the History of the Moon offers viewers a welcoming glow. You can almost smell the Star Jasmine, or hear the leaves rustling against a neighbor’s siding.
J.K. Lavin studied at The Visual Studies Workshop, New York, and received a Master of Arts degree in photography from Cal State Fullerton. Her work has been shown at Gallery 444, Palm Springs; Photoplace Gallery, Vermont and the Gallery at Roarke Art Museum, Minnesota. She lives and works in Venice, California.
Join us for an opening reception for the artist, J.K. Lavin, on Saturday, July 11, 2015, 6-9pm at Spot Photo Works, 6679 Sunset Blvd. (at historic Crossroads of the World) in Hollywood. Her exhibition will remain through September 10, 2015. Regular gallery hours are Monday through Friday, 10:30 a.m. – 5:30 p.m.
All across the world a uniform, homogenous model of development, inspired by Los Angeles style urban sprawl – consisting of massive freeways, parking lots, shopping malls and large-scale master planned communities with golf courses – is being stamped onto the earth’s topography. Spot Photo Works is proud to present ANONYMIZATION by Robert Harding Pittman. The exhibition will span from May 2 through July 3, 2015. An opening reception for the artist will be held on Saturday, May 2nd from 6-9 pm. Spot Photo Works is located at 6679 Sunset Boulevard in Hollywood at the historic Crossroads of the World. Free parking for the reception is available in the Crossroads lot behind the gallery on Las Palmas Ave north of Sunset Blvd. Contact email@example.com for inquiries.
The globalized model of architecture, which ANONYMIZATION is concerned with, does not respect or adapt itself to the cultural or natural environment onto which it is implanted. With this anonymous type of development come not only the destruction of the environment, but also a loss of culture and roots, as well as alienation. As we have seen in recent history, fervent overdevelopment has led to crises, not only financial, but also environmental and social and some even say psychological.
German – American photographer/filmmaker Robert Harding Pittman began work on ANONYMIZATION while attending graduate school at the California Institute of the Arts where he received a dual MFA in Photography and Film/Video. A Fulbright grant took him to Spain and he has since continued to photograph Los Angeles style development in Spain, France, Germany, Greece, Dubai and South Korea. The world was in the midst of a construction boom when the project began, and as world economics has foundered, cranes have come to a screeching halt, often leaving a trail of structural debris behind. Robert Harding Pittman’s book ANONYMIZATION was published in 2012 by Kehrer Verlag featuring writings by environmentalist Bill McKibben and former George Eastman House curator, Alison Nordström, along with Pittman’s photographs. The project has been nominated for the Prix Pictet and the German Photobook Award.
See the following publications for further information:
Month of Photography Los Angeles (MOPLA) blankets the city in images this month with a broad spectrum of exhibitions. H. Lee, the pseudonym of the photographer who spent more than a year documenting the daily business of covert cannabis farming in Northern California, continues her exhibition of Grassland at Spot Photo Works‘ Hollywood gallery through April 28, 2015.
Grassland reveals the deep, intricate world of private people operating in the shadowy evergreen fog of Humboldt County, California. All is not obscured from her camera, however, as she was granted access, but only if she obscured her own identity as well as that of the groups of people gathering to work the grow houses, package and sort the harvest and survey the crops in the outcroppings between the forests.
Grassland is a look at an intimate, involved world, secretive and skeptical, that is rapidly changing as legality spreads. H. Lee’s subtle and quiet images reveal a way of life that likely will soon be dwarfed as the interests of big business become more deeply interested and invested.
Copies of H. Lee’s 2014 book Grassland, published by Keher Verlag are available for sale at Spot Photo Works. Spot Photo Works, 6679 Sunset Blvd., Los Angeles, CA 90028, firstname.lastname@example.org