Tag Archives: March 26th

Verner Soler

My friend, Verner Soler, has opened a wonderful solo exhibition, Visits to My Village, at Hous Projects in Los Angeles with the of Artist’s Reception on Saturday, March 26th from 10-4pm.

Verner grew up in the small village of Vrin in the Swiss Alps with a population of 250. He left home with a desire to see the world, and ended up in Los Angeles, now working as an advertising Art Director. The world he left behind has no relationship to his current urban lifestyle, but now married with a family, his desire to return and remember has taken him back to Switzerland several times a year. I featured Verner’s terrific series documenting his family tree on Lenscratch several years ago.

Visits to My Village captures the daily lives of his family and fellow townspeople. He knows everyone’s story. In being absent for such extended periods of time, these stories unfold to him in jumps and spurts. The town’s inhabitants are isolated, but not in absolute terms. Modernity and technology seep into their lives just as they have in the world at large. In Vrin, these metamorphoses are most apparent in their farming techniques. The instruments and methods Verner practiced side by side with his family on the hills are disappearing more and more with each visit. Verner meditates on how one spring he witnessed his father make cheese for the last time from his cow’s milk. Then on another visit watched as two farmers made their last hay bundles while perched upon the slopes surrounding the town. Slowly, but surely the traditions of their culture are being whittled. Verner felt a sadness that has compelled him to record these vestiges before they vanish entirely.

Images from Visits to My Village

Moreover, by creating a visual diary, Verner attempts to personally understand these changes to his village and keeps him from becoming a stranger in his own town. It would be easy to go back to Los Angeles after visits and lose touch with the weather beaten faces, calloused hands and downy whiskers of his neighbors. To lose sight of their strength and vitality set against lush green fields or cool depths of snow. He could easily shut his eyes and not see the charm, depth and privilege
it is to be able to call Vrin home, but he does not.

The Next: L.A. Photographers 2011

In conjunction with the Grand Opening of the new The Julia Dean Photo Workshops in Hollywood this Saturday, March 26th, two exhibitions will be on hand to greet the guests. The first reception is for Berenice Abbott Winner Christopher Capozziello’s award winning project, For God, Race and Country, and the second is an exhibition of emerging Los Angeles photographers, The Next: L.A. Photographers 2011. The openings are from 7-10pm and it should be a packed house.

Image by Christopher Capozziello

The Next: L.A. Photographers 2011 is a group show featuring the work of emerging Southern California photographers who have been developing their unique and personal visions in contemporary photography. The exhibition features the work of 11 photographers: Ashly Stohl, Bob Bright, Carolyn A. Hampton, Claire Mallett, Dan Shepherd, Lisa Bevis, Shawn Robinson, Stacey Rebekah Scott, Stella S. Lee, Steven C. De La Cruz and Aline Smithson.

Nostalgia, childhood, finding beauty in the mundane, connections with nature and exploring the world around us are the themes that occupy their images. They tell stories of power and weakness, sadness and joy, confusion and clarity. Whether it be through landscape, portraiture, narrative or abstraction the photographers in this exhibition offer a fresh point of view into their respective genres.

Ashly Stohl’s First 2 Hours Free explores the unremarkable corners of parking structures; places we pass on our way to somewhere else, but never really see. The series looks to alter our impressions of these places as cold, gray, and utilitarian, in order to see warm saturated walls of color, and splashes of shadow and light. Her goal is to change the way we walk through our lives, finding beauty in the gritty and mundane details of daily life.

Claire Mallett’s series Wildcat Nudes is an exploration of the female form within the intricate dance between light and shadow. It is a study of not only tone but of texture. This series looks at the nuances of skin against the complexities of nature. The collection of fine art nudes was shot at Edward Weston’s Estate on Wildcat Hill in Carmel, California. By combining a contemporary sensibility with her deep seated love of the classical styling’s of Man Ray, George Hurrell and of course Edward Weston, she created her own voice and vision of the female form.

Lisa Bevis’ work Dog Day Afternoon is part of her ongoing “MYOPIC” series. Her use of forced blur and bright whites eliminates specific details and creates an illustrative effect that enables the viewer to just enjoy the emotion of her images.

Robert Bright’s series, Signs, captures the heyday of classic business signage, reflecting a period of Los Angeles architecture when graphics and neon were the celebrated standard. These iconic signs stand as symbols of Los Angeles history when humor, hope, and Hollywood glitz elevated even the smallest venues. Besides their unique personalities, Robert shows the detail, workmanship and condition of these passing icons of L.A. culture.

Steven C. De La Cruz’s series Within Plastic, is a glimpse of the inner struggle, pain, happiness, confidence and vulnerability behind the manufactured smile. It is a revelation of the artist and an offbeat solution of unmasking one’s true sentiments. Through twisted beauty and captivating sorrow, we can now take a glimpse of what’s behind the counterfeit veil.

The Remnants of Past series is based on the exploration of a recurring dream in abandoned and allegedly haunted spaces in Los Angeles. Carolyn A. Hampton used intensely personal artifacts that have been passed down through generations of her family, and shot the images digitally during several visits to Linda Vista Hospital and Sybil Brand prison. Bringing a particular nightmare to life on film can be an empowering way to conquer fears. Perhaps an image resonates with the viewer because he or she has experienced similar night terrors? Many of us are captivated by the same things, either subconsciously or consciously, because of our shared human experience.

Dan Shepherd’s, Draw Me A Tree, asks the viewer if we remember when we had a stubby crayon in our hands and happily scrawled out our houses, our cats, a blue sky with the sun up in the corner and a tree in the yard? One of the few artistic endeavors that we all have in common is drawing a tree and with this ongoing project Dan will explore our connection to nature by asking people to Draw Me a Tree. But not just any tree, Dan is asking people to partner with him and illustrate the trees that have had some impact in their lives. Draw Me a Tree will help show how intrinsically connected to nature we are through a series of visual tree stories that can be found everywhere in our yards, parks, gardens, forests, and streets.

In Los Angeles, the beach is a stage and the Shoreline series reflects the countless scenes of life waiting to be captured. Stella S. Lee seeks out split seconds of a typical beach day and at the same time strives to portray a sense of timelessness through the use of a Holga camera. From bikini competitions to frolicking along the water’s edge, these photographs document the
inhabitants of today to be eternally memorialized amongst the sun, surf and sand.

Stacey Rebekah Scott’s interest in photographing fire dancers came from the desire to document women who explore unconventional ways of life and expression. Dancing With Fire is an analogy for controlling the uncontrollable, taming that which by nature is wild and unpredictable. What was initially just a simple exploration into photographing subjects at night has turned into a full documentary series on the culture of fire dancing, telling a story of intrigue, beauty, danger and art.

Shawn Robinson’s project, The Light Through Which We All Grow, looks at a society where people spend untold sums of money to look the same, cosmetic surgery is booming, and in every direction we look the norm is encouraged and celebrated. The Light Through Which We All Grow, is an ongoing series of portraits investigating what it means to be unique and how that fits into the world today.

Aline Smithson’s Converging Narratives is a series about the relationship of connected imagery and the new conversation that juxtaposed photographs create. This fusion begins a unique narrative that is a convergence of ideas and associations, open to personal interpretation. The result is something completely separate from the original intent of the image making.

Favorite Shoots with Elisabeth Biondi

The New Yorker has a wonderful series of images by a number of photographers that discuss their relationship with Elisabeth Biondi, who has been the photo editor at The New Yorker since 1996, soon after the magazine started to use photography, until his recent departure.

“A photograph is an entity. You don’t crop it, you don’t butcher it, you don’t plaster text over it, you treat it with dignity.”

Photograph by Robert Polidori, from “Gorgeous George,” in the issue of March 26th, 2001.

The execution of this photograph permanently changed my working methodology. To be honest, the subject—a temporary lighting treatment on the George Washington Bridge—is something I would never have contemplated shooting on my own. Probably sensing this, Elisabeth got me involved in a conversation in which we both described our mental projections of what the resulting photograph should look like. By the end of our office session I had actually penciled in a crude drawing of the shot that I was to seek.-Robert Polidori (Read more).