Summer 2017 marks the fifth anniversary of Grand Park, “The Park for Everyone.” In just five years, Grand Park has embodied its slogan and become L.A.’s crossroads, town green and communal backyard. Every year, hundreds of thousands of Angelenos and visitors pass through this special place. They come to capture serene moments in their workweek. They come to splash in the fountain with their families. They come to dance, eat, watch, move or create at one of Grand Park’s hundreds of free events. They come to march and let their voices be heard. They come to ring in the New Year surrounded by fellow Angelenos.
Anniversaries are occasions to reflect back on the memories and the journey. Grand Park’s journey is a story of a million Angelenos who believed in it and have shaped it and made it their own. The Big LA Portrait Gallery is a thank you to those Angelenos. THEY are what has made Grand Park the success that it is.
The Big LA Portrait Gallery is modeled on the National Portrait Gallery in Washington D.C. whose mission is “to tell the story of America by portraying the people who shape the nation’s history, development and culture.” At Grand Park, we are celebrating part of the story of Los Angeles, stories of its people. It is their passion, creativity, humanity, humor, commitment, and diversity that make Los Angeles such a wonderful place.
The 100 portraits of Angelenos were shot by 10 Los Angeles photographers, each asked to capture their L.A. For some the portraits are centered around place such as Sam Comen’s Central Ave. For others, they reflect communities of shared interest such as Joe Pugliese’s Sunday’s Best. These ten series show just a few of L.A.’s thousands of distinct groups all connected to each other in different, powerful, and meaningful ways.
Grand Park was created to be a place of connection and this project honors and celebrates our unique interconnectedness and the vibrant and powerful fabric of L.A.. Thank you Los Angeles for making the first five years so wonderful. Here is to many more!
Interim Director, Grand Park
In the spirit of Angeleno expression, Grand Park reached out to the photographers to pick their brains about their experiences as photographers and artists in Los Angeles.
How does Los Angeles inspire you as a subject for photography?
I shoot where I roam. I roam Los Angeles. Mostly east of the river and downtown. But I’m moved by all of Los Angeles, its complexity. It has never ending pockets, layers of human individuality in constant flux.
I’m inspired to shoot in Los Angeles because it always seems to be at the frontier of history. This place is in flux, always on the verge. Nothing is static: and that’s incredibly interesting to photograph. I think it comes down to the myriad communities that call LA home — we’re reinventing the city as we reinvent ourselves. It’s exciting to be part of LA, and to make photographs that examine it’s constant evolution.
The light in Los Angeles is hazy and lingering making for endless inspiration.
LA inspires me because it is a place of seekers; they’ve come to realize a dream, however illusory. It’s a land of fantasy and escape, of Peter Pan’s staving off adulthood, compromise, the drudgery of insignificance. Most won’t see their name in lights. And the inevitable let-down and disappointment that comes with falling short – sometimes way short, brings pathos into the picture. Sometimes the dreamer finds that it’s ok that things didn’t quite work out as anticipated. They find another path that may not be grand, but nonetheless brings them satisfaction, a feeling of value.
Los Angeles has always inspired me, from long before I knew it as a place that existed in reality. When I arrived here as a young adult it took years to reconcile the city in my mind and in my eye. It revealed itself slowly to be different from the one I knew as a setting and a backdrop for so many works of music, film and fiction. In the actual Los Angeles, I found a much more diverse and exciting collection of character and spirit than is often seen from the outside. Even now after so many years photographing the people of Los Angeles, I am still only beginning to discover what and who this city is made of.
LA is known as the entertainment capital of the world, but to me it’s so much more that that. When you dig a little deeper you find all these hidden gems that are underrepresented in the media and these are the kinds of stories that inspire me the most about this city.
The Big L.A. Portrait Gallery is part of an awesome summer of free fun.