Unreal Los Angeles + Historic Downtown Los Angeles photos

Unreal Los Angeles

Zoom in:

One can go to one’s neighborhood supermarket, casual restaurant or quick purchase store for a decade and never see the same people twice. Los Angeles loves to eat sushi, yet it is well-known that sushi is enjoyed in Japan only as food for special occasions. Yet at once Los Angeles does not have a native cuisines based on seafood, or from eating of the sea.

Zoom out:
The view from the New York Artworld:

Perry Rubenstein gallery: “Los Angeles is a new center. It looks today the way New York looked compared to Paris after the war.”
L&M Arts: The creativity is comparable to what New York was like at the time of the abstract expressionists.”
Mayor Guliani: “Los Angeles is a city on tape.”

Regal Rosslyn Royalty Hotel Los Angeles (photo by Vincent Johnson.2012)

Zoom in:
Vital Statistics:

Los Angeles is a semi-arid desert but imagines itself to be a Mediterranian tropical paradise. To help the projection of this vision, palm trees were planted, as well as two kinds of orange trees that bloomed in different parts of the year, producing the impression of year round endless bounty.  The first freeway in the U.S. opened in 1950 – between business downtown Los Angeles and suburban escape white shoe East Coast Pasadena. Cal Tech is in Pasadena, and was master planned to be the West Coast equivalent of MIT. The city of Los Angeles does not actually touch the Pacific Ocean. It borders what have become over the past 25 years uniformly upscale beach communities. Downtown Los Angeles is located some 15 miles inland, and is where LA was founded. The reason for this is that the Spanish did not want to have to defend the coast, and therefore built inland. The El Camino Real spans through LA and into Northern Cali. It is the road in which the Spanish Missions of California were built. Inside of Los Angeles one can drive across part of the remnant of the historic Route 66, which actually starts in front of the Art Institute of Chicago. The route ends at the Pacific Ocean. Both Sunset and Santa Monica boulevards were originally Indian trails, yet there is almost no representation of the American Indian indigenous tribes in LA. For several decades the San Fernando Valley, which is the northern half of Los Angeles, was home to hundreds of thousand of defense contractor jobs. During the 1990’s over a quarter million of these jobs disappeared when the US military redirected its government contracts. Parallel to this relationship with government provided employment, was Los Angeles was the home to the second largest number of federal government workers in the US. In Central Los Angeles, just a few minutes drive from the Santa Monica freeway, the interstate highway that racially and economically bisects Los Angeles, major architectural experiments were made. The one, across Rodeo boulevard, is a historic master planned community called the Village Green. It was originally named Baldwin Hills Village. It is a historic Mid-Century modern “Garden City” movement property. Los Angeles was seen as a tabula rasa. Planned as an oasis in the urban territory, the central feature was that it was and still is literally a series of apartments that face into the park, forming a barricade to the outside world. One enters ones car not by walking to the street, but through the park, where low-rise structures for parking and washing clothing are set nearby. The entire landscape is exquisitely manicured. Some residents live in what seem to be single family homes, but they are actually apartments that are attached to one side of the larger apartment building. The purpose of building this community was to give a means of rents being collected that would then be pooled to buy the properties. The underlying motivation for this project was to metaphorically repay the beaten down workers in Victorian England.

Hotel Vogue downtown Los Angeles (photo by Vincent Johnson.2012)

The second “South of the 10 Freeway” historically significant to master planners, is Leimert Park. Designed by Olmsted & Olmsted in 1927. It was restricted to white residents until 1948, when restrictive covenants were struck down by the Supreme Court. Its design features were developed to decrease automobile traffic near schools and churches. Utility wires were buried or hidden; it was designed primarily for middle-income families but given the appearance of an upper income community. Just north of Leimert Park is the historic West Adams neighborhood. Several mansions remain, including Busby Berkeley’s and Fatty Arbuckle’s. Many more are being restored, as is a small 1920’s farm, from a time when the area was at the outskirts of central Los Angeles.

In the late nineteenth century, there were dozens of hotels in the Hollywood Hills that served as respite from the harsh East Coast and Midwestern winters. Nothing remains of this today.
In the first decade of the 20th century, neon was introduced into the US through LA via Earl Anthony. He had visited Paris and seen the liquid fire neon light displays there, and paid to have two neon signs for his Packard automobile showroom in downtown LA.

The motel concept is from California. Once it was combined with fantasy neon signage in LA, the shattered dreamscape of Los Angeles it became the symbol of a new genre of filmmaking: the Neon Noir cinema. The infamous Bates motel on Sunset boulevard (from Alfred Hitchcock’s neon noir thriller Psycho) in the Silverlake neighborhood of LA has been demolished.

Green Royal Eldorado Hotel Los Angeles (photo by Vincent Johnson.2012)

Vincent Johnson

Los Angeles, California

8.2.2012

Vincent Johnson is an artist and writer in Los Angeles

Vincent Johnson, Nine Grayscale Paintings, Beacon Arts Center, Los Angeles, (2001). Oil on canvas. Each panel is 20×24 inches.
photograph of silver paint on my hands in studio, Los Angeles, during the creation of Nine Grayscale paintings.
Vincent Johnson – in Los Angeles studio working on Nine Grayscale Paintings, 2011

Vincent Johnson

Los Angeles, California

http://www.vincentjohnsonart.com
Vincent Johnson received his MFA in Fine Art Painting from Art Center College of Design in Pasadena, California 1997 and his BFA from the School of the Art Institute of Chicago. He is a 2005 Creative Capital Grantee, and was selected for the Baum: An Emerging American Photographer’s Award in 2004 and for the New Museum of Contemporary Arts Aldrich Art Award in 2007 and for the Art Matters grant in 2008, and in 2009 for the Foundation for Contemporary Art Fellowship, Los Angeles. In 2010 he was named a United States Artists project artist. His work has been reviewed in ArtForum, The New York Times and the Los Angeles Times, Art in America, Art Slant and many other publications. His photographic works were most recently shown in the inaugural Pulse Fair Los Angeles. His most recent paintings were shown at the Beacon Arts Center in Los Angeles.

New Abstract Paintings: The Cosmos suite (2012)

Cosmos. Oil on canvas  2012 by Vincent Johnson

Cosmos Red Yellow Green. Oil on canvas 2012 by Vincent Johnson

Green God. Oil on canvas 2012 by Vincent Johnson

This new painting series is part of my ongoing exploration of painting materials and techniques from the history of painting. The works combine knowledge of painting practices of both abstract and representation paintings. The works concern themselves purely with the visual power that paintings can do through the manipulation of paint. Some of the underpaintings are allowed to dry for months; some of those are built dark to light, others light to dark. None are made in a single setting. Most are worked and reworked using studio materials. Each new series takes a different approach to the painted surface from how the paint is applied, to varying the painting mediums. This suite concerns itself with the layering of paint by building up the surface and altering and reworking the wet paint with studio tools.

Two larger paintings will be completed and photographed on Sunday, July 1, 2012 and posted here.

Vincent Johnson

Los Angeles, California

http://www.vincentjohnsonart.com

Vincent Johnson, Grayscale painting: The Storm (2012). Oil on canvas, 30×40 inches, created in studio in Los Angeles, California

Vincent Johnson, Grayscale painting, Snow White/White Snow (2012). Oil on canvas, 30×40 inches, created in studio in Los Angeles

Vincent Johnson is an artist and writer in Los Angeles

Vincent Johnson, Nine Grayscale Paintings, Beacon Arts Center, Los Angeles, (2001). Oil on canvas. Each panel is 20×24 inches.
photograph of silver paint on my hands in studio, Los Angeles, during the creation of Nine Grayscale paintings.
Vincent Johnson – in Los Angeles studio working on Nine Grayscale Paintings, 2011

Vincent Johnson received his MFA in Fine Art Painting from Art Center College of Design in Pasadena, California 1997 and his BFA from the School of the Art Institute of Chicago. He is a 2005 Creative Capital Grantee, and was selected for the Baum: An Emerging American Photographer’s Award in 2004 and for the New Museum of Contemporary Arts Aldrich Art Award in 2007 and for the Art Matters grant in 2008, and in 2009 for the Foundation for Contemporary Art Fellowship, Los Angeles. In 2010 he was named a United States Artists project artist. His work has been reviewed in ArtForum, The New York Times and the Los Angeles Times, Art in America, Art Slant and many other publications. His photographic works were most recently shown in the inaugural Pulse Fair Los Angeles. His most recent paintings were shown at the Beacon Arts Center in Los Angeles.

Abstract Painting and Freedom

Cosmos. Oil on canvas  2012 by Vincent Johnson

Cosmos Red Yellow Green. Oil on canvas 2012 by Vincent Johnson

Green God. Oil on canvas 2012 by Vincent Johnson

Remind me of the fact that Abstract picture making, or the making of abstract paintings, is the highest level of freedom for the artist. The fact of the matter is that Abstraction frees the artist from having to represent anyone or anything, for any reason, from the political to the ego mania of portraiture. Abstraction is itself the site of freedom. The artist is free to explore every internal idea – whether it be the nature of existence itself, the meaning of life or merely the majesty of the infinite materiality of paint, as explored by artists as wide-ranging in painterly concerns as Jack Whitten, Amy Sillman, John McLaughlin and Gerhard Richter. It was none other than the United States of America’s government itself that both shadowed, foretold, broadcast and shipped out to the world Abstract Painting in America, in the form of Abstract Expressionism in New York in the post-war period. Abstraction was viewed as the visual equivalent of jazz, where there were no set rules, where free improvisation was the rule and never the exception. Jazz influenced Abstract Painting, from its fluidity of thought and language play, to its flights of genius in brushstrokes. Abstract Painting in the form of Abstract Expressionism recognized it would not want to compete with the direct bloodline of European painting history. So it took from painting and started a completely new road, one full of American flash and fire, with jazz in both the foreground and background, listened to live at night and in the studio by daylight. Abstract Expressionism removed itself from European easel painting, which had removed itself from painting for and in the church.  So in a new land and with a new plan painting burst forth with a vibrancy and native intelligence and energy that has caused it to not only rise up, but also withstand the difficult hours when painting became to be viewed as a lessor form of analytical engagement. This lasted for a brief while in terms of the reality of the life of things. Now painting has been elevated as it again has large numbers of the most intellectually engaged artists working it the medium. Do not forget that paint today is by a creation of science, yet its materials come from the earth and allow both woman and man to create and recreate the world – in their own image, or in the case of Abstraction, in images that explore every available manner of thinking about reality and existence itself, by being both mirror and presenter of philosophical truths.

Vincent Johnson

Los Angeles, California, May 20, 2012

Vincent Johnson, Grayscale painting: The Storm (2012). Oil on canvas, 30×40 inches, created in studio in Los Angeles, California

Vincent Johnson, Grayscale painting, Snow White/White Snow (2012). Oil on canvas, 30×40 inches, created in studio in Los Angeles

Vincent Johnson is an artist and writer in Los Angeles

Vincent Johnson, Nine Grayscale Paintings, Beacon Arts Center, Los Angeles, (2001). Oil on canvas. Each panel is 20×24 inches.

photograph of silver paint on my hands in studio, Los Angeles, during the creation of Nine Grayscale paintings.

Vincent Johnson – in Los Angeles studio working on Nine Grayscale Paintings, 2011

http://www.vincentjohnsonart.com
Vincent Johnson received his MFA in Fine Art Painting from Art Center College of Design in Pasadena, California 1997 and his BFA from the School of the Art Institute of Chicago. He is a 2005 Creative Capital Grantee, and was selected for the Baum: An Emerging American Photographer’s Award in 2004 and for the New Museum of Contemporary Arts Aldrich Art Award in 2007 and for the Art Matters grant in 2008, and in 2009 for the Foundation for Contemporary Art Fellowship, Los Angeles. In 2010 he was named a United States Artists project artist. His work has been reviewed in ArtForum, The New York Times and the Los Angeles Times, Art in America, Art Slant and many other publications. His photographic works were most recently shown in the inaugural Pulse Fair Los Angeles. His most recent paintings were shown at the Beacon Arts Center in Los Angeles.

Vincent Johnson: Vernacular Architecture project (Los Angeles and Texas)

Booker's Del Hi

Vincent Johnson’s Artist statement from 2005 on Vernacular architecture project:

Ritz Motel in Living Color

My artistic practice is currently concerned with the production of an archive of digital photographic images of the remains of Los Angeles’ and Southern California’s vernacular architecture after the inception of the motel in the 1920’s through intriguing phase that delivered the fantasy of neon noir architecture of the 1940’s and 1950’s. Since the majority of this form of architectural history are in forlorn and neglected avenues of Los Angeles and beyond, I do not consider the project to be a form of cultural tourism, but an authentic investigation and concern that gives rise to a cultural document as history. On occasion I will also produce a photograph that documents the relationship between the 1950’s through the 1970’s car culture and California private residences.

Car and leaves

I work in Los Angeles, which has an exceptional amount of interesting architectural artifacts from the First World War period onwards. Many portions of the Los Angeles that I depict come into existence when New York was attempting to wrest the thorn crown of painting from Paris and succeeded. In the course of producing my photographic archive, I have employed strategies of production such as those used by the flaneur and the derive, in day and at night, by car and on foot, primarily in a stark and challenging urban territory, the Anti-City that is Los Angeles. Similarly, I have also allowed myself to merely wander through this world as the American artist that I am, and fall into pictures and spaces that call for documentation.

Hollywood station wagon

Neon Vacancy

It is my experience that driving a car in Los Angeles and seeing the world through its windows is a complex real-time cinematic event. There is a temporary encounter and an enduring intimacy through memory via the photographed subject – this produces the photograph, as versus a sustained relationship with a single but ever-changing street scene. Through auto travel one is given the privileged observer position of moving through the world as a real-time unedited film, a cinema-state; to take a number of photographs of it afterwards. Often, when I drive I look about and “remember” key images, photographs of urban sites from the mid-century and earlier that I will take pictures of in the future.

Poet's House

Despite the relative youth of Los Angeles cultural architectural properties from the mid-20th century and earlier, they are constantly vanishing from the physical landscape of the state, as the dead architecture and their signs are either demolished or their  elegant features are almost erased.  Part of my project is documentary in the recognition of this reality. At certain times and places in Southern California, merely by driving about, one can gain a very strong sense of the lifestyles of Los Angeles’ remarkable architectural past, in reinvented forms of openness to new possibilities, without external pressure, to fulfill the promise of the future.

Studio Self Storage

Vincent Johnson

Lake Balboa, California

4.12.05

The Five Signs of Deano's

Circus Liquor Parking Lot

Air-Conditioned Motel

Stein on Vine

Smashed Catalina

Painted Structure, Odessa

West Texas Ice Cream Parlor

Beach City Chevrolet

Copa West

Southern Gents Club

Furst Motel

Furst Motel

Vincent Johnson on his Vernacular architecture project, 2005

The nature and form of my work is investigative and analytical. Each photograph in my body of work combines a commanding visual poetics with a documentary and literary sensibility. Visual movement enthralls me. By degrees my eyes now take in photographs of the commercial vernacular architectural history of Los Angeles. My work is driven both by a radical reader’s intensity – which is, my profound desire to continue read and to know the world through its myriad night forms and daylight appearances. I am both an image-maker and producer of fiction and of fact, in language and in vision. My project is expansive and expanding, from the old interior corridors of the first avenues of Los Angeles, roaming outwards to the edge locals of the region – Riverside, San Bernardino County, San Diego.

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Vincent Johnson is an artist and writer in Los Angeles. He has recently been named a 2010 United States Artists Project artist.

The USA site went live on December 7, 2010

My initial project is to fabricate a 3 foot tall doll house sized sculpture of the collapsed William Livingstone House in Detroit. The project description and a video presentation of the project are at the links provided here:
http://www.unitedstatesartists.org/user/vincentjohnson
http://www.unitedstatesartists.org/project/william_livingstone_house_detroit
Please feel free to review the site and to contact others who would be interesting in supporting the program and my project.
thanks so much
Vincent Johnson
Los Angeles, California
cell: 818:430.1604

===============================================

LANYArtiststudio@gmail.com

Biography July 2010
Vincent Johnson lives and works in Los Angeles. His work has been exhibited at Las Cienegas Projects, LAXART, the P.S. 1. Museum, the SK Stiftung, Cologne, the Santa Monica Museum of Art, the Museum of Contemporary Art, Chicago, the Studio Museum in Harlem, the Adamski Gallery of Contemporary Art, Aachen, the Sacramento Center for Contemporary Art, 18th Street Arts, Santa Monica and the Boston University Art Gallery. His photographic works engage both significant and neglected historical and contemporary cultural artifacts and is based on intensive research of his subjects. Upcoming is a group show at the Kellogg Museum of Cal Poly Pomona, a one person show in Copenhagen, a one person show at the University of California, Santa Barbara, and a one person show at Las Cienegas Projects, Los Angeles.
Johnson received his MFA from Art Center College of Design in 1997. He studied with Mike Kelly, Jack Goldstein, Stephen Prina, Liz Larner, Chris Williams, Mayo Thompson (formerly of Art&Language), and Liz Larner. He is a 2005 Creative Capital Grantee, and was nominated for the Baum: An Emerging American Photographer’s Award in 2004 and for the New Museum of Contemporary Arts Aldrich Art Award in 2007 and for the Art Matters grant in 2008, and in 2009 nominated for Foundation for Contemporary Art Fellowship, Los Angeles. His work has been reviewed in ArtForum, The New York Times and the Los Angeles Times, and numerous other publications.
LANYArtiststudio@gmail.com
Vincent  Johnson
Artist Statement
Vincent Johnson’s work is a form of sustained cultural mining that explores the depths of his subjects. His photographic works created from 2001-2007 delved into architecture as fantasy, from the vernacular architecture of Los Angeles to that found throughout the American West. He has documented several of the no longer extant commercial vernacular structures in both South Los Angeles and the San Fernando Valley that came into existence during the birth of long distance family travel by car. In 2007 he presented a fully fabricated work of sculpture – a 12 foot long six-foot high replica of a 1956 Chrysler Air Raid Siren. This project developed as he was both researching and documenting a former military corridor in the San Fernando Valley that included a retired military airfield. His newest photographic works, all created in 2008 and 2009, are large-scale photographic montages, each of  which confront significant cultural figures and several dramatic signal events of Cold War era Western cultural history, including Television, the launch of Sputnik, the Soviet Space program, American home-based bomb shelter  program, and Vietnam. He is working on large-scale photomontages of the several major American political figures of 1960’s, including Martin Luther King, the Kennedy family, and Malcolm X, as well the representations of both Communism and Capitalism, Hollywood and Los Angeles and many related Cold War era subjects. Johnson’s photomontages can take several months to create as he captures hundreds of images from online sources, before selecting those which most well index a particular historical moment, personage or event. The creative juxtapositions and scale shifts of the found images is what he most relies on to develop his potent and illuminating photographic works.

Vincent Johnson: Strange Los Angeles Pictures – photographs (2001-2002)

Twin Busts

Flower for Hollywood

Hollywood film shooting location: Silver Saddle Motel

Photographs by Vincent Johnson from 2001 – 2002 in the San Fernando Valley, Los Angeles, California

In the fall of 2001 I decided to photograph several of the extremely strange scenes I was coming across while also shooting vernacular architecture throughout Los Angeles. I determined that this project would be shot in black & white, to be capture and accent the odd and provocative worlds I was happening upon each night while I took pictures. There seemed to be an underlying theme of the Film Industry and it’s its major presence in the San Fernando Valley. I shot photographs of storefronts, homes, businesses and street scenes, each of which I felt reflected upon the amazing and unique visual experiences that this former land of orchards turned into military airfields and then the largest military-industrial complex in California during the Cold War. There were over 250,000 people employed in the military defense industry. By the late 1990’s almost all of these massive enterprises had been shut down, leaving Hollywood to again take the reins of the look and feel of the San Fernando Valley.

Movie studio prop house: Car covered and furniture props

Movie prop: Holiday mask (male)

Film equipment storage

Cars arriving at the Set

Home used for Film Shoot

Film props

Director giving instructions to cast and crew

Hollywood tree

11411 Hollywood sign

Hollywood entry

Movie prop: Holiday mask (female)

Flowers for Hollywood film shoot

Ritz camera store for Hollywood film shooting stills

Ritz motel for Hollywood lovers

Motel Pool, Los Angeles

===============================================

Vincent Johnson is an artist and writer in Los Angeles. He has recently been named a 2010 United States Artists Project artist.

The USA site went live on December 7, 2010

My initial project is to fabricate a 3 foot tall doll house sized sculpture of the collapsed William Livingstone House in Detroit. The project description and a video presentation of the project are at the links provided here:
http://www.unitedstatesartists.org/user/vincentjohnson
http://www.unitedstatesartists.org/project/william_livingstone_house_detroit
Please feel free to review the site and to contact others who would be interesting in supporting the program and my project.
thanks so much
Vincent Johnson
Los Angeles, California
cell: 818:430.1604


LANYArtiststudio@gmail.com

Biography July 2010
Vincent Johnson lives and works in Los Angeles. His work has been exhibited at Las Cienegas Projects, LAXART, the P.S. 1. Museum, the SK Stiftung, Cologne, the Santa Monica Museum of Art, the Museum of Contemporary Art, Chicago, the Studio Museum in Harlem, the Adamski Gallery of Contemporary Art, Aachen, the Sacramento Center for Contemporary Art, 18th Street Arts, Santa Monica and the Boston University Art Gallery. His photographic works engage both significant and neglected historical and contemporary cultural artifacts and is based on intensive research of his subjects. Upcoming is a group show at the Kellogg Museum of Cal Poly Pomona, a one person show in Copenhagen, a one person show at the University of California, Santa Barbara, and a one person show at Las Cienegas Projects, Los Angeles.
Johnson received his MFA from Art Center College of Design in 1997. He studied with Mike Kelly, Jack Goldstein, Stephen Prina, Liz Larner, Chris Williams, Mayo Thompson (formerly of Art&Language), and Liz Larner. He is a 2005 Creative Capital Grantee, and was nominated for the Baum: An Emerging American Photographer’s Award in 2004 and for the New Museum of Contemporary Arts Aldrich Art Award in 2007 and for the Art Matters grant in 2008, and in 2009 nominated for Foundation for Contemporary Art Fellowship, Los Angeles. His work has been reviewed in ArtForum, The New York Times and the Los Angeles Times, and numerous other publications. Upcoming is a group show at the Kellogg Museum of Cal Poly Pomona, a one person show in Copenhagen, a one person show at the University of California, Santa Barbara, and a one person show at Las Cienegas Projects, Los Angeles.

LANYArtiststudio@gmail.com
Vincent  Johnson
Artist Statement
Vincent Johnson’s work is a form of sustained cultural mining that explores the depths of his subjects. His photographic works created from 2001-2007 delved into architecture as fantasy, from the vernacular architecture of Los Angeles to that found throughout the American West. He has documented several of the no longer extant commercial vernacular structures in both South Los Angeles and the San Fernando Valley that came into existence during the birth of long distance family travel by car. In 2007 he presented a fully fabricated work of sculpture – a 12 foot long six-foot high replica of a 1956 Chrysler Air Raid Siren. This project developed as he was both researching and documenting a former military corridor in the San Fernando Valley that included a retired military airfield. His newest photographic works, all created in 2008 and 2009, are large-scale photographic montages, each of  which confront significant cultural figures and several dramatic signal events of Cold War era Western cultural history, including Television, the launch of Sputnik, the Soviet Space program, American home-based bomb shelter  program, and Vietnam. He is working on large-scale photomontages of the several major American political figures of 1960’s, including Martin Luther King, the Kennedy family, and Malcolm X, as well the representations of both Communism and Capitalism, Hollywood and Los Angeles and many related Cold War era subjects. Johnson’s photomontages can take several months to create as he captures hundreds of images from online sources, before selecting those which most well index a particular historical moment, personage or event. The creative juxtapositions and scale shifts of the found images is what he most relies on to develop his potent and illuminating photographic works.

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