American Spectator: Melodie McDaniel

 

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Sunday Best 4 ©1995, Melodie McDaniel

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.

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Doo Drop Inn, 1998 © Melodie McDaniel

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.

Sunday Best 1, ©1995, Melodie McDaniel
Sunday Best 1, ©1995, Melodie McDaniel
Waiting ©2013, Melodie McDaniel
Waiting ©2013, Melodie 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.

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Melodie McDaniel with her work at the L.A. studio of framer Jeff Kies.

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.

spotphotogallery@gmail.com

 

 

NO MAN’S LAND: SPOT PHOTO WORKS PRESENTS ANONYMIZATION BY ROBERT HARDING PITTMAN

 

Real de Faula Golf Club, Benidorm Spain, ©2005 Robert Harding Pittman
Real de Faula Golf Club, Benidorm Spain, ©2005 Robert Harding Pittman

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 spotphotogallery@gmail.com for inquiries.

Dubai, UAE, Robert Harding Pittman ©2009
Dubai, UAE, Robert Harding Pittman ©2009

 

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.

 

Mall of the Emirates, Dubai ,UAI, ©2009, Robert Harding Pittman
Mall of the Emirates, Dubai ,UAE, ©2009, Robert Harding Pittman

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:

http://www.wired.com/2014/05/robert-harding-pittman-anonymization/

http://cnnphotos.blogs.cnn.com/category/robert-harding-pittman/

 

PURPLE HAZE: GRASSLAND BY H. LEE

Untitled from Grassland by H. Lee, © 2011
Untitled from Grassland by H. Lee, © 2011

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.

Untitled from Grassland by H. Lee, 2013 b
Untitled from Grassland by H. Lee, © 2013

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.

Untitled from Grassland by H. Lee, ©2011
Untitled from Grassland by H. Lee, ©2011

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.

Untitled from Grassland by H. Lee, © 2011
Untitled from Grassland by H. Lee, © 2011
Untitled from Grassland by H. Lee, (c)2011
Untitled from Grassland by H. Lee, (c)2011

Copies of H. Lee’s 2014 book Grassland, published by Keher Verlag are available for sale at Spot Photo Works. Storefront Spot Photo Works, 6679 Sunset Blvd., Los Angeles, CA 90028, spotphotogallery@gmail.com

H. Lee’s Well Kept Secrets

H. Lee in the shadows at her 2014 Minneapolis exhibition of Grassland at Icebox Gallery.
H. Lee in the shadows at her 2014 Minneapolis exhibition of Grassland at Icebox Gallery.

Catch the interview with Grassland’s H. Lee by Peggy Roalf from Design Arts Daily:  http://www.ai-ap.com/publications/article/13117/finding-a-story-h-lee.html

Where There’s Smoke: Grassland by H. Lee to Open at Spot

Untitled from Grassland by H. Lee © 2013, all rights reserved.
Untitled from Grassland by H. Lee © 2013, all rights reserved.

While living within a community of cannabis growers in Northern California, photographer H. Lee documented both a clandestine way of life and the process of cultivation in all its stages, culminating in the publication of her 2014 book, Grassland. Spot Photo Works is pleased to present the first West Coast exhibition of Grassland, opening on March 7, 2015 with a reception for the artist from 6 – 9pm. The exhibition continues through April 28, 2015 with regular gallery hours of Monday through Friday, 10:30 am – 5:30 pm.

Spot Photo Works is located at 6679 Sunset Boulevard in Hollywood. You’ll find free parking for the opening in the Crossroads of the World lot (behind the gallery), just north of Sunset Blvd. on Los Palmas Ave.

Untitled from H. Lee's Grassland © 2010, all rights reserved
Untitled from H. Lee’s Grassland © 2010, all rights reserved

Grassland is an essential California story – not so unlike the popular farm-to-table stories of Sonoma and Napa valleys. The one chief difference has been the volatile legal status of the crop and H. Lee’s document, photographed between 2010 and 2013, catches the last days of pot farming at its most secretive.

Untitled from Grassland by H. Lee ©2010, all rights reserved
Untitled from Grassland by H. Lee ©2010, all rights reserved

With historic changes regarding the acceptance of marijuana settling into American society, a fundamental shift is in motion between those who seek to keep it illegal, and the overwhelming populist appeal for legal reform. For decades, farmers in Northern California have quietly operated, hiding their gardens from law enforcement. As new legal markets have begun to emerge, marijuana agriculture is moving into plain view. Grassland offers an intimate view of the epicenter of cannabis cultivation in California, where a sizable community is shaped by a plant regarded as both magical and medicinal; a plant whose cultivation holds the promise of profit, and despite changes in state policy, possible jail time.

Untitled from Grassland by H. Lee, ©2011
Untitled from Grassland by H. Lee, ©2011, all rights reserved