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

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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