the irony and the ecstasy

by urquiza!
Posts Tagged ‘street photography’

blake shane


the homeless artist blake shane owned a neon company in the 80s and reproduced the iconic neon looks that were popular during the time. he lost his business and warehouse and currently lives in his truck with a parrot. he spends his time between highland park and an encampment in simi valley. he also spends a lot of time in “slab city” where there are hundreds if not thousands of homeless encampments in the dessert.

blake shane’s anonymous street art can be seen in various parts of los angeles, he claims he has done a couple hundred pieces in northeast los angeles over the last ten years. you will recognise a blake shane piece by the obsessively hammered metal work of a oxacan silversmith. he recycles discarded consumer and industrial metal that that has outlived its usefulness in our above ground world. the parts are flattened and sometimes cut into the abstract forms. before their new life as an art object they were as common as a hubcap or manifold. he nails them to the many telephone and power poles that populate the older neighbourhoods of los angeles. his pieces are sometimes small unnoticeable anomalies in the urban landscape to other that are several feet in height that wrap around a utility pole with the casualness of a runaway vine or as some ornate masked face of an urban totem.

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all together in the middle of everything thinking of nothing

from the series, “the love train” and assorted street sessions. the bulk are from new years eve 2013, but some from as early as 12.14.12 through early 2014. this series is constantly growing and changing from every moment on the street with a camera. this is the third edit for some of these, while others get added or dropped.

street photography is beat poetry written while swimming in the current. it is a flip chart of time and a record of a city or space for a decade or an era, that is if it survives the day after… this series of street photographs explores the la metro. style, culture and aesthetics constantly change, but people do not. we are afraid, we are voyeurs and exhibitionists, we are together on the train or bus and we do human things. we come and go worrying about things and forgetting more than we worry about. the human race is to the finish line of death. with that eventuality comes all the fears and joys of being human. this series of images on the metro explore how we use this constructed space or our city hive to fulfill our own needs of comfort and dreams.

in the beginning my early street images were distant from what i was searching for. on the road to making these images i found the guilt and pity of street photography. we peer into the intimacy of other’s lives seeking the beauty of being. that i am human and sometimes lapse in the pursuit is my fault. i forget they are gifts given to me by the subjects and not something to be taken. this time we spend running and in transit between moments of connection and contemplation trying to get to the next one, and the next one. the rich strut through the subway, the lovers embrace, the homeless find refuge while the poor are trying to get home. the train, the car, the bus is our solace as it is our window to the world.


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elsa’s bakery

07.04.13. elsa and her husband are from the yucatan peninsula and have had their business here for more than thirty-five years. her husband is a gregarious man confined to a chair and his cane. they live nearby in a large old craftsman house. she sold the business to edmundo rodriguez a former lausd teacher on the condition that he keep the name and mexican bakery. these are a few of the images from the last days before it changed hands.

in the context of gentrification highland park is experiencing home flipping in the surrounding area and the business district along york begins a second phase of property and small business turn over. the epicenter or first visible change began around 2009 on the corner of avenue 50 with cafe de leche. this next wave has now reached avenue 51 and the elsa’s bakery building nearly three years later. the first to appear was ba french restaurant taking space from the downsized elsa’s bakery. the old elsa’s was part bakery, part corner store with unfinished hand drawn signage on the glass, half stocked shelves of mexican products from abuelitas chocolate to cans of menudito, on the other side in glass cases are fresh baked mexican pastries. in these images you can still see the old landscape and the community at risk of displacement.

these images and text are part of a series that explores gentrification in highland park. the multi-year study is part if the sin turistas archive and collective. (more images about elsa’s available)

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the bridge between

07.04.13. york boulevard runs through the northern section of highland park as the primary east-west artery of the community. it disappears at the arroyo seco bridge where the street turns into pasadena avenue. after a brief turn on pasadena avenue it becomes mission street which is also the east-west artery for south pasadena. before the goldline this road ran seamlessly between these two photographs and these two neighbourhoods.

the socio-economic differences between the two subjects is evident. to further illustrate the dichotomy of south pasadena and highland park when these images were taken, homes in south pasadena were a solid $500-$600k, while highland park’s were barely reaching $300k and rents ranged from $700-$850 per month. as of this day rent for a one-bedroom apartment in highland park has doubled to more than $1500 dollars, homes are listing in the $700k range, while south pasadena remains stable and has inched up incrementally. the problem is not the land values, but the unequal consequences for long time residents and people living on the margins of society. highland park has a 38% poverty rate and starting around 2014 homelessness, evictions and rent increases exploded.

these images and text are part of a series that explores gentrification in highland park. the multi-year study is part if the sin turistas archive and collective.

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street fragments

from street sessions 07.20.13, 07.27.13, 12.02.13, 06.05.14 and 07.30.14.

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highland park study no.01

reflections and reactions. bicycles and french restaurants, spanish language health clinics and gentrification. beware this is the frontier of america.





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sin turistas preview

these few images are from the sin turistas workshop project that i organise and instruct. the student works can be found on our facebook page, but these are some of mine that were shot during various sessions.

highland park is an old neighbourhood of los angeles that is rapidly changing. it appears to be facing a similar fate as in brooklyn, new york. the residents in highland park were primarily 70% latino in the mid 2000s. their environment is rapidly being replaced by a hip, young, urban and middle class white environment. while the latino population has fallen a small amount, the white population has exploded leaving latinos at 53% of the population. the changing landscape has raised nieghbourhood’s property values and shifted the business services. these rising values have started to displace the most vulnerable.

this set of images goes back and forth from both groups, just as the arguments go back and forth between economic development versus displacing the existing economies. this topic is a personal project. i grew up in northeast los angeles of which highland park is the northern most area. i have been watching this change since i was a boy from one immigrant group to another.







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