Courtesy of Kopeikin Gallery. Mitch Dobrowner Road, 2009 20” x 30” Pigment print Shared edition of 45

PHOTO FRENZY; LA FOODWAYS
By Sarah A. Spitz

Judging from the size of the crowd on opening night of Photo L.A (last Thursday at Santa Monica Airport’s Barker Hangar), photography may just be the hottest ticket on the art market these days. It was jam packed and very noisy with buzz about the 65 galleries, showing works from the historical to the hysterical, from classic to contemporary, with a surprisingly good-sized presence of Chinese galleries.

Anytime you walk into a show with so much to see, it becomes truly overwhelming. After a while, only those images that jumped out from the temporary walls commanded my attention. I’m focusing here on just two artists whose works I found outstanding, Mitchell Dobrowner (Kopeikin Gallery, Los Angeles) and Seung Hoon Park (Susan Spiritus Gallery, Irvine).

STORMS AND LANDSCAPES

Mitchell Dobrowner hasn’t been chasing storms for all that long – only ten years. But the power of the images he captures makes you wonder whether he has a direct line to mother nature. His storm images are simply spectacular, from lightning strikes to tornado ropes and funnels to the many kinds of clouds he captures: rainshafts, starships, lenticular, vortex, nimbus, wall and shelf clouds over broad, often desolate landscapes, shot in high contrast black and white.

A two-minute YouTube video demonstrates how he does it, just a tripod, a camera and a real time weather map on his phone. https://www.youtube.com/watch?v=RQbmXxU2dkg

His storm work has been collected in a book, appropriately called “Storms” (you can find it on Amazon) and in Los Angeles he is represented by Kopeikin Gallery on La Cienega Blvd., which focuses on his storm works.

Dobrowner also photographs landscapes, and at Photo LA one of those shown was “Fly Geyser, Black Rock Desert, Nevada,” a Hobbitty looking rock formation surrounded by several spill-capture pools at different elevations, and rock steps leading up to one of the pools. It’s got soft edges, you can almost feel the mist spraying on you as geyser gently erupts.

Dobrowner has also shot epic images of Monument Valley, Canyonlands, mountains, deserts, rock ranges, and even Iceland.  Find out more here: http://www.mitchdobrowner.com. Look to the left, under menu, to view his many images and find out more about his publications.

FOUND ON FACEBOOK

What a find for Susan Spiritus Gallery of Irvine. Now representing Seung Hoon Park, she tells me she found him on Facebook! This South Korean photographer cuts strips of 8 mm and 16 mm film that he loads vertically and horizontally into his large format camera. Once exposed, he later weaves the strips into a mosaic-like image of the landmarks, city scenes, buildings and interiors that serve as his subjects.

Each image takes about ten hours to weave together; once he completes weaving, he photographs the final product. See his work here: https://susanspiritusgallery.com/artist/seung-hoon-park/2015-new-textus/prater-park-wein-textus-144/.

These works brought to mind Chuck Close’s pixelated portrait paintings and David Hockney’s Polaroid landscape composites, except that in the case of Close, these “pixels” are much larger, and in the case of Hockney, they’re not pictures of the same place taken over time. Park’s images, nevertheless, are unique.

He’s traveled the world to create them, from New York Public Library and the Dvorak Concert Hall in Prague which were on view at Photo LA (approximately $4500 per image); as well as Vienna, Rome, Milan and Venice, Italy, Eastern Europe, Singapore and New York.

LA FOODWAYS ON KCET

Until the 1950s, Los Angeles County was the largest food producing county in America. Now it’s home to one of the largest food insecure populations in the country.

A new documentary on KCET by Raphael Sbarge, “L.A. Foodways” tells the history of how our rich agricultural roots became a food desert, featuring a number of non-profit organizations that are trying to find solutions to this problem.

We hear from Rachel Surls, director of the Los Angeles County Master Gardener program and co-author, with Judith Gerber, of From Cows to Concrete: The Rise and Fall of Farming in Los Angeles for historical background.

Also featured, Rick Nahmias is founder and Executive Director of Food Forward (www.foodforward.org), a food recovery organization that has rescued 65 million pounds of produce in ten years, partnering with hundreds of social justice agencies to distribute it to those in need. Through backyard and public space harvests, Farmers Market recovery (25 markets per week) and daily pickups at the Downtown Wholesale Produce Market, Food Forward feeds 1.25 million people a year with fresh produce that would otherwise go to waste.

The Watts Labor Community Action Committee works with Food Forward to create a Farmers Market in South L.A.; Seeds of Hope helps communities build gardens and urban agriculture spaces in unused spaces; and the Los Angeles Food Policy Council has made remarkable strides in creating opportunities for private property owners to share their barren lots for agricultural purposes.

The documentary premiered at Laemmle’s Ahrya Fine Arts Theatre in Beverly Hills last week and aired last night on TV, but will repeat on KCET on Sunday, Feb. 10 at 5 pm, and Wed., Feb. 13 at 11 p.m.

Get your recorders ready; LA Foodways a really eye- and heart-opening film.

Sarah A. Spitz is an award-winning public radio producer, now retired from KCRW, where she also produced arts stories for NPR. She writes features and reviews for various print and online publications. 

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