Saturday, October 29, 2011

Welcome to the Other L.A.

WELCOME TO THE OTHER L.A. -- Everyone knows the sunny side of Los Angeles.  But photographer Jim McHugh knows the side enveloped by shadows, sitting in the twilight of Tinseltown.  And he knows the lost, the unseen and the derelict when it comes to capturing the architecture, landscape and iconic symbols that have come to represent what the world knows as vintage Los Angeles.  His vast collection of images of all things L.A. photographed over the past 30+ years hovers around 4,000 -- an amazing feat for any photographer.  But then, McHugh is not any photographer.  Exhibited internationally, an author of several books, a longtime portrait photographer for Architectural Digest, the recipient of the prestigious  Prix de la Photographie, Paris for his architectural photography, and renowned for his portraits of some of the world’s top contemporary artists, McHugh seems to eat, sleep and breathe photography.  Using a large format, hand held 4x5 camera, McHugh records on Polaroid film the kind of L.A. that only an insider like him can see and feel.  “The photographs are an homage to the Los Angeles I remember as a child,” says McHugh. The city and the architecture of McHugh’s youth is pretty much lost or unseen today, or has become as McHugh puts it, “faded remnants of an earlier beauty.”  The documenting of this L.A. is “an exercise in memory and time” says McHugh.  He has translated this exercise into large format Polaroid prints and he is represented at Timothy Yarger Fine Art in Beverly Hills -- not to mention being in such collections as The Museum of Modern Art, The Walker Art Center and The Polaroid Collection.  Vanity Fair magazine acknowledges that McHugh “follows in the footsteps of photography giant Ansel Adams.”  Pretty powerful words.  But a picture is indeed worth a thousand words and it is the  powerful pictures of McHugh’s that conjure up thousands of words and emotions about the sunny L.A. that is so etched in  everyone’s collective minds.  The city does have its shadow-strewn side, its eerie moments caught somewhere in between twilight and reality, seemingly forever suspended in the mind of McHugh for us to revel in, to ponder and search deeper or wonder to ourselves “where is this L.A?”  Just ask Jim McHugh.  He knows where it is.