Tag Archives: Francisco Bay Area

Leigh Merrill

Growing up in the big sky country of New Mexico, photographer Leigh Merrill probably didn’t give the urban environment much thought. After receiving a BFA from the University of New Mexico, she moved to the Bay Area to attend Mills College in Oakland, CA. It was from this experience of living without visual expanse, that she became interested in the way people live in cities. Now living in Texas, Leigh continues to exhibit across the US and most recently had a solo exhibition, Into the Sunset, at the Lawndale Art Center in Houston, TX. Two of her series, Into the Sunset and Street take similar approaches; I am featuring Street below.

Statement for Street: I am driven to photograph the places where I live, fueled by a curiosity about the architecture we surround ourselves with, and how it reflects larger cultural ideas. The images depict places that waver between fantasy and reality, calling into question ideas of beauty, class and cultural romanticism in our urban and rural landscapes.

Upon moving to the San Francisco Bay Area in 2007 I began looking at the complexity of its urban environment. The Bay Area presents a unique blend of residential living that sits between urban and suburban in a way that never quite reconciles one with the other. In investigating this landscape I photographed thousands of homes throughout the area and then digitally assembled these images together to create new and illogical structures and streets. At first these images look plausible, however, closer inspection reveals their fabrication.

The reconstructed homes and neighborhoods appear skewed, revealing their underlying and sometimes unconscious intentions. These constructs highlight the ways in which our built environments pull from a variety of different architectural and landscape styles and reflect cultural ideas of beauty and perfection. In working with the Bay Area as a site for investigation, I explore what our built environments tell us about our own individual desires as well as our collective culture and ideals.

Photographer #224: Alex Fradkin

Alex Fradkin, 1966, USA, originally studied and practiced architecture. It is no surprise that when he started his photographic career in 1996, he focused on architecture and landscapes. In 2011 two books will be released by Alex. One of the projects is Bunkers: Ruins of War in a New American Landscape. It contains images of whole or partially intact bunkers found across the San Francisco Bay Area. The serenity of the landscape is broken apart by the process of erosion and seismic activity that is gradually ripping the hillsides apart. The other project is The Left Coast: California on the Edge. Since 2006 Fradkin has documented the changing Californian coastline and it’s people with a large format camera. Following images come from the series The Left Coast: California on the Edge, Bunkers: Ruins of War in a New American Landscape and The Lakeshore Project.

Website: www.alexfradkin.com