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Photo LA 2013

Monday was a very nice day, and a holiday, so I took advantage of the light traffic and the wonderful day to put the top down on the fun car and drive over to Santa Monica for Photo LA 2013. Driving the 110 in January in a convertible with the top down and Aviators is one of the things that makes LA such a unique experience. I parked on the street to save me the exorbitant $10 parking charge (nonetheless, I paid SM their $2 bribe to park on an empty street for two hours. Of course they ticket even on a national holiday, but not getting a ticket in SM is not even a possibility – their meter maids still work 24/7/365).

Anyway, my first impression is photography, or at least collecting, is a sport for 1) the rich, and 2) the old. $20k for prints of 60s icons certainly must be addressed to wealthy boomers. Not to me. Not that I'm not old, but like the Beatles music, it's just been done to death.

But once you get away from the obvious cash cows, there were some interesting things. Three of Julius Shulman's Case Study #22 were available (and some other very good, lesser known, work), Ansel Adams street photography (look, he has a telephone post coming out of the subject's head! And out of focus!), a whole wall of gorgeous portraits by Horst, Newton, Avedon, et al. I was playing the guessing game (no labels on this wall), matching style to photographer, when the proprietor came over and gave me a tour.

I also got to chat with Jay Mark Johnson, whose work I very much enjoy. The comparison I can make is with Gursky. Must be seen in person on a large scale to appreciate. Mr. Johnson was a very nice fellow.

It's continually amazing that even to an uncultured cowboy like me, it's easy to walk into any room and see the masterpiece. It's obvious which picture is the Rembrandt, even if you don't know anything about art. It just jumps out. Similarly, Mapplethorpe, Salgado, Weston – I don't have to know the picture or the artist to recognize this is a step above.

I had talked to a pro photographer friend of mine who had seen it and he told me not to bother. “Nothing new, nothing inspirational.” But I think the difference is that I didn't go to art school. I had not seen a lot of these in person (in books and on the web, sure), and in person makes all the difference for all art. So to me, worth it to see Lange, White, Frank, Elliott in person. But yeah, not much new or original.

Not to be a cheap bastard (see above), but $25 is kind of steep for this sort of thing. I wonder if the limited attendance is due to the price.