Saturday night a friend lured me out to a reception at an art opening. It was for Put Your Finger on the Button
, an exhibit of works by female photographers at the New Image Art Gallery 7908 Santa Monica Blvd. at Fairfax*. There were plenty of the Officially Hip and Beautiful there to see and be seen, but they didn't mind us regular folks wedging through the crowd to see the exhibits. In fact, after looking around the crowd, my friend and I were kicking around the idea of starting a side business, hiring out as "women with natural breasts and no art credentials whatsoever" to add a touch of working-class authenticity to these kinds of events.
The works ranged from straight portraiture, the kind that gets under the subject's customary "I'm having my picture taken" mask, to a video installation billed as "an attempt to seduce/agitate viewers in the dark" inspired by the artist's "shifts in logic after functioning without electricity for 14 days" following Hurricane Ike.
All of the pictures made me think. There wasn't one item on display that made me say, "What are they, kidding? That's not art, that's a underexposed snapshot of a stained tablecloth."
Then on Sunday a visit to St. John's L.A. in West Adams introduced me to the works of Wilfredo Benitez-Rivera, an Anglican priest who incorporates photographic works into contemplative practice. His Sombras y Misterio/Shadows and Mystery
series is currently on display. I love the geometry in his photos, as well as the warmth of the human figures. These black-and-white studies were particularly effective in the glittery gold-leaf and stained glass interior of the church.
*Locals may remember this space when it housed one of the last of the old-time jumble stores, run by a lively, amiable Russian family.