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Los Angeles minus the glitz

August 19, 2004|Jessica Hundley | Special to The Times

Gas stations. Taco stands. The L.A. River. "Undocumented Ground," a new photo show at Crewest Gallery in Alhambra, seeks to reveal Los Angeles in the seemingly mundane, through the eyes of two dozen local photographers ranging from their teens to their 70s.

Composed of 95 works, the show was conceived by photographer Gustavo Alberto Garcia Vaca, co-curator Elize Mazadiego and Crewest's owner, graffiti artist Man One.

"The main objective was to express unity," Garcia Vaca says. "L.A. has a diversity that's really unique, and we wanted to show as wide a vision as possible. So we have African American, Latino, Asian and Anglo photographers basically defining the city on their own terms. We wanted to link the themes of the show to the underground culture the gallery usually focuses on, like music and graffiti art."

"We tried to make everything as democratic as possible," Man One says. "We found the artists, and together we all came up with the basic themes and definitions of the show."

The result is a multifaceted collection of perspectives on the urban landscape.

Paul Redmond's vivid prints highlight the architectural details of the city's colorful taco stands. Galo "Make" Canote forms a narrative through a series shot entirely on the L.A. bus system. Eriberto Oriol's black-and-white shots explore the unexpected urban beauty of the Los Angeles River and the brutality of an alleyway arrest. Diana McClure's camera captures the ghostly light of a lonely late-night gas station. Graffiti artist Eyeone uses photography to turn bits of signage, sidewalk cracks and spray-paint strokes into imaginative abstracts. And in Hamztz's series of forgotten spaces -- abandoned warehouses, empty lots and freeway underpasses -- the lighting tries to evoke something grand and cinematic.

"What I try to do with my photography is show something that hasn't been seen before," Yadira Sandoval says of her images of L.A.'s Latino and dancehall music scene. "I try to take photos of music that isn't usually promoted and of the people involved in the underground culture that's happening all over L.A."

"We didn't want to focus on the mainstream," Man One explains, "on the L.A. you always see, on the celebrity, the glamour. We wanted to find artists who could show another side of the city. We wanted people of different ages and artists with different looks.... It gives you a really nice mix of images, scenes that are very familiar but are rarely looked at within a frame, as art."

Man One, a mural and graffiti artist and community activist, opened Crewest in 2002 to provide a space for alternative visions. He has since hosted shows by underground artists from around the world. With "Undocumented Ground," however, he focused on L.A. photographers to create what he calls "a gift to the city that inspires us."

"It reflects the lifestyle of our artists and the people who come to this gallery," he says. "There are all these cultures coexisting, which is really amazing when you think about it. We wanted to push people's expectations and stereotypes and provide them with another way of seeing the city."


'Undocumented Ground'

Where: Crewest Gallery, 2703 W. Valley Blvd., Alhambra

When: 3 to 7 p.m. Wednesdays and Thursdays, noon to 8 p.m. Fridays and Saturdays, noon to 6 p.m. Sundays, or by appointment.

Ends: Sept. 5

Contact: (626) 458-2465,

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