Wednesday, September 29, 2010

Better Late Than Never: Dennis Hopper Double Standard

The Self-Made Shell Of Hopper & The New Mexico Desert At Moco.
Dad & Me
Hopper Speaks At His Star Ceremony On Hollywood Blvd.
The Steps Of Hopper's Home In Venice.

Nothing like waiting till the last day, right? This past Sunday was the last day for the Dennis Hopper's art exhibit Double Standard at MOCA. My dad and I got there real early to avoid all the other last dayers and the heat that was frying the streets of downtown LA. The retrospective which opened in July was sadly a tribute to Hopper the art/photographer (as well as actor, who passed away just this past May 29th at the age of 74.) Hopper who spent the past 25 years hold up in his studio/compound in my hometown of Venice, Ca. proved himself to be major player in world of contemporary art. He was an artist that who really wasn't afraid to delve into all aspects of art, the show featured abstract paintings, black and white photographs, various assemblage pieces, Venice graffiti inspired art and pop art pieces (as well as a small theater featuring film clips from his career as and actor "You're a eggplant.") Personally I was drawn to his photography (mostly from the 60's.) Hopper really had "the photographic eye" which later helped him in his film directing career. I took to heart something that he said in an interview once, Hopper said something to the fact that when nothing else was shakin' in his artistic career, he just picked up his camera and made art. Nice advice and a nice send off Mister Hopper.

Friday, September 10, 2010

The Cuban Slide: Slide Show Night @ The Annenberg Space for Photography

Up on the big screen.

Glenn, Steve, Colleen & Me
Still trying to impress Miss Kahn!
With Lydia & Karen
With my wonderful friend Michel.
With one of my lifelong mentors; Mike Jones
With Pia & Karin

Last night I had thirty images featured at The Annenberg Space for Photography’s Slide Show Night event. Every exhibit at the Annenberg features such a night to coincide with its current exhibit since it opened March 2009. Currently photojournalism is featured with the presentation of Pictures of the Year International 2010.   The fact that my images from a recent trip to Cuba were shown along with other photographers from all over the country as well as the world was very satisfying indeed. The journey ironically started at the Annenberg (were I have worked part time since it has opened) last January. I was in the library/reading room of the Space and I started thinking about a place that’s always fascinated me; Cuba. While the thought was fresh in my mind I jumped on a nearby computer and emailed my cousin who has traveled to Cuba many times in her work as a college professor. I asked her “are you ever going back to Cuba?’ To my surprised she replied that she had been there just two weeks before. And as luck would have it she was planning to go back in six months to do more research on her next book. She said that she could actually use a photographer. So if I was serious about making the trip, let her know? I knew that I couldn’t pass up this adventure, even though I really was in no position financially to do so. I remember that great little bit of dialogue from the beginning of the movie where George Hamilton played Evil Knievel (and I’m paraphrasing here) “A Roman general in the time of Caesar once said that if it is possible it shall be done, and if it was impossible it will be done!” So I told my cousin; “yes, I’m in.”
I was lucky enough to have half of my travel paid for by the university; but the rest I had to tap dance for. I had six months, so I brainstormed. Then I had the idea that “hey, I’m going as a photographer; and I’m planning to comeback with (I was hoping?) with some great images of an amazing place… so I was lucky enough to find great a few sponsors through my great friends (many who have seen my past photos and some  I’m honored to a photo of mine hanging in there home.) And so was able to make this (possibly?) once in a lifetime trip to Fidel's Island. After a wonderful two weeks in this incredible place, I came back with photos for my cousins book, as well a enough to make a photo book for me. And as for Cuba? I came away with this feeling about the island and its people; in a nutshell it's just like that TV show LOST; people stranded on the island with each other and not much else? Many hope to escape or to be rescued, but until then... all they have is each other, so they have to stick together (I even felt that with the pets & animals.) I really hope that my photos conveyed this? Which brings me to last night, it was so cool to have this idea/adventure to come full circle in less than a year. And I was able to invite my wonderful patrons to such a nice event, as well as a few other special people in my life (I wish I could have invited more friends, but I pushed my portion of the guest list as far as I possibly could!) I'm not a photojournalist per say, but I'm a curious man with a camera. FYI the images are now on The Annenberg Space for Photography website (for some reason I can't get the link below to "just click" to it... but you can cut & paste the link... that'll take you to the slide show page... my images from Cuba are on the 3rd slide show page... which you can get to if you click to it down below on the right... I hope you take the time to check them out...