Monday, June 06, 2005

looking at los angeles

This past Thursday I went to the book release party at the Hermes Gallery on Rodeo Drive for "Looking At Los Angeles", a collection of photos of Los Angeles edited by Ben Stiller, David L. Ulin, and Marla Hamburg Kennedy. I went with fabulous Los Angeles photographer Craig Havens and Adrienne of the LAist there (thanks again Adrienne!). The timing for this event was perfect. I'm editing Craig's new book of photography, so we spent the afternoon in his Chinatown studio going over prints and then took a break to hit the party.

It was pretty much like every other Rodeo Drive shindig I've attended - Veuve Cliquot and caviar, security guards with headsets at every turn, clipboard-clutching PR bunny, people jockeying for right-side position in front of event photographers, and there is always one woman with an outfit that says she's just trying too damn hard. This party had steely-eyed Armani-clad agent-types chatting up unwashed bobo artsy-types in search of the next hip thing. Or was it the other way around?

Xeni Jardin and Jen Collins were also in attendance at this event and I was glad to finally meet them both. Mack Reed of LA Voice blogs about it, and Xeni blogs about it. The Diane Arbus photo that Xeni posted was the best of the collection, and just like Ben Stiller, reminded me of my own Disney memories. I almost didn't see it because of the setup. There was a multimedia installation on the boutique's third floor where images from this new book of photography was projected onto the walls, but to see each image without someone's head blocking your view, you had to peer down into viewfinders set against the walls. I checked out images from Winogrand, Shulman, and Epstein before giving up on the viewfinders and concentrating on more champagne and caviar. Craig and Adrienne were talking to Xeni Jardin and Jen Collins, they motioned me over so introductions could be made.

Craig pointed out one viewfinder captioned, "<---Diane Arbus" and ordered me to look at it, saying, "This is the best damn photograph in the entire collection." It was annoying to peer down into a viewfinder, but I was glad I did. This is an amazing collection of images of Los Angeles. I love photography and think it should be blown up large, on the walls, and celebrated - not peered at through a viewfinder. I told this guy who chatted me up just that and he said, "Marla is my cousin, I'll have to ask her why they chose to do that." Oops. I told Craig about my faux pas and he sheepishly confessed that he just said the same thing to a woman he didn't know and she said, "Well, thanks for coming to my event, I'm Marla." Double oops.

Proceeds from the book benefit the Los Angeles Conservancy and there's another event promoting the book at the Arclight on June 18th. I'll probably go and wind up offending someone without meaning to again.

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