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Art Review: The Creative Lens Is Celebrated at Photo LA:

The 18th Annual International Los Angeles Photographic Art Exposition is an appropriately long name for a very big exhibit, big enough to fill Barker Hangar at the Santa Monica Airport for three days. Photographs of all sizes and styles were to be found, from copies of classics by Diane Arbus, Eadweard Muybridge, and Dorothea Lange, to current stars of the lens world, some of who were on hand for in-person discussions and book signings.

Among the outstanding photographs exhibited at the galleries that represented them, were these:

Nailya Alexander Gallery from New York featured a number of Russian artists. Among these, Evgeny Mokhorev’s black and white nude studies (of both sexes) were notable for their use of light and shadow.

The Gary Edwards Gallery (Washington D.C.) displayed vintage portraits done as what were known as “salt prints.” This process involved soaking paper in a weak salt solution, then coating it with silver nitrate that would permeate the paper fibers. The resulting photographs were pastel-tinted and ethereal.

At the other end of the spectrum, Santa Fe’s Photo Eye presented David Trautimas’s “Habitat Machines,” color photos of screwball buildings that he made from found objects such as old coffee pots, bathroom scales, electric mixers, and other appliances. The photography lent enough legitimacy to Trautimas’s pop sculptures to make them appear to be buildings in a Dali-esque landscape.

Many photographers use mixed media and special techniques to create special visual effects. Edmund Teske (Janet Sirmon Fine Art, Brooklyn, N.Y.) made a composite for his black and white study of Jim Morrison, a 1969 shot later used as cover art for the album An American Prayer. The composite gives a shimmering effect to the picture – one might say, a halo.

As long as we’re talking rock idols, Lynn Goldsmith (Paul Herztmann Gallery, San Francisco), who is known for her photos of musicians, created a large body-length shot of Mick Jagger in performance mode – but a close look revealed the photo to be a mosaic made from hundreds of smaller pictures of the Rolling Stones in concert.

The same technique of photo-mosaic was used by Cameron Gray (Robert Berman Gallery, L.A.) for his replica of “Whistler’s Mother” using – ahem! – lots of tiny, sexually explicit photos.

A special exhibit this year was the Blind Photographer’s Guild. According to exhibiting photographer Bruce P. Hall, the Guild consists of artists who were formerly sighted and who now create photographic works based on memory and other guideposts, such as touch. The most remarkable works on display here were those of Pete Eckert, a onetime carpenter who became legally blind six years ago but continues to create using light, touch, and sound. His photographs at Photo L.A. showed figures dazzling with light in the midst of darkness.

There was another sort of dazzle in the gallery displaying photographs from Hurrell Estates New York. George Hurrell specialized in glamour photography of movie stars in the 1930s. His huge black and white portraits of leading ladies like Joan Crawford, Jean Harlow, Myrna Loy, and Faye Wray almost looked more like color than black and white, and seemed ready to walk off the walls and into the crowd of Photo L.A.

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