Malibu Seen

Shutterbugs focus in on Photo L.A. Devon Meyers / TMT


Photo buffs hit the Santa Monica Civic Auditorium for the opening night of Photo L.A. The celluloid showcase has definitely developed over the years and today features 70 top galleries from across the country.

It was an artsy crowd for an artsy show, sporting floppy hats and Pucci headbands, French berets and flowing scarves, vintage frocks and velvet cloaks. Photo aficionados sipped Absolute Peach martinis while making their way through a maze of incredible images. The show seems to get more interesting every year with something shockingly beautiful or just plain shocking at every turn.

First to catch my eye was William Eggleston’s 1960s dye transfer print of a hairy, naked gun lover sitting underneath a rack of well-used shotguns. At $18,000, the image does not come cheap. In fact, I think I’d pay $18,000 not to have a hairy, naked gun lover hanging on my wall. But Eggleston had lots of other offerings-cozy Kodak moments with mid-century housewives carting their kids off to school.

You’d find every imaginable subject, including cheetahs in the Maasai Mara, Flame trees in the Serengeti, Peruvian doorways, Moroccan courtyards, gritty urban centers, old transvestites, young body builders, tattered cowboys and lush landscapes.

Thomas Kellner was a standout with his creative use of contact prints. Angled together in imaginative ways, Kellner turns Guggenheim in Bilbao into a bold geometric statement, gives Piccadilly Circus in London some electrifying movement and lets Stonehenge fall in on itself like a house of cards. “These are all places that people know,” said the Cohen gallery’s Rick Perez, “But they are seen from a totally different perspective.” For the German born artist, it’s all about bringing a static image to life. “One shot photography doesn’t really interest me,” Kellner explained. “I am inspired by cubism and fragmented visions.”

Occasionally, the stories behind those visions can be as intriguing as the visions themselves. A few of the more titillating tales came from Susan Meiselas who set her sights on a rather upscale S&M joint in Manhattan called Pandora’s Box.

In addition to some pretty provocative pics, Meiselas includes a menu from the popular establishment. This list includes gear- blindfolds, hoods, suspension, straight jackets, boots, uniforms, gloves, latex, leather. Also included are several desired scenarios, such as boss versus employee, teacher versus student, spy versus military interrogator as well as your area of interest-nipple twisting, whipping, spanking, paddling, canning, bondage, humiliation, foot worship, cross dressing or mummification. Wow, sounds like a full service facility to me!

For something a bit more serene, there was a series of stunning landscapes from Robert Turner. The colorful collection featured pink and lavender dunes at White Sands N. M., crimson maple leaves fresh with the morning mist in Maine and a riot of purple lupines at Olympic National Park. There were classic snaps of a young Bob Dylan, a jubilant Richard Nixon, the Fab Four in ’64 and just about any other famous face you could think of.

The four-day image extravaganza has become so popular it is now considered to be the country’s largest photographic art exposition.

So whether you go for breathtaking beauty, crazy contacts or a walk on the wild side, Photo L.A. is always a sight to behold.