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THROUGH THE LENS

Off-center beauty: one beholder's chronicle of L.A.

March 18, 2007

A big, blue "Radio" sign on Pico Boulevard, concrete barriers along the Los Angeles River, bunker-style industrial architecture with no signs of life, mobile homes with aluminum awnings and asphalt driveways. Not warm and fuzzy to most people's eyes and certainly not an adman's dazzling view of L.A. But photographer John Humble has spent 30 years finding his own kind of grandeur and allure on the unlovely streets, transit corridors and backyards of Southern California. An exhibition of about 40 of his color photographs, opening March 27 at the J. Paul Getty Museum, is called "A Place in the Sun." Well, yes, but the sunshine comes with shadows, and the landscape can be an unsettling mix of nature and urban culture. Humble sees the sweep of freeways -- and what they do to neighborhoods. He sees blue skies -- and how power lines blot them out.

-- Suzanne Muchnic

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