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Sam Comen’s Photo Exhibition ’28 at 28′ Runs 10/22/11 to 1/22/12 at NextSpace in Culver City

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Award-winning photographer Sam Comen’s first solo exhibition, 28 at 28, premieres with an installation of over 100 works at Culver City’s NextSpace starting on Saturday, October 22, 2011.  28 at 28 is a serial portraiture study that captures the evolving lives of Comen’s peer group in a crisp, saturated style.  Comen unveils the first three years of this new body of work at a free public reception on October 22, 2011 from 6:00 to 9:00pm – on his 31st birthday. The choice of this date to debut the ongoing project calls attention to time’s passage, the integral throughline in 28 at 28. The two-story atrium of NextSpace will be transformed into a larger-than life timeline of Comen’s subjects in a taxonomic display of environmental and studio photographs. Beverages will be provided by Crispin Cider. The exhibition will run for three months through Sunday, January 22, 2012.

NextSpace Hosts
Award-Winning Photographer Sam Comen’s
28 at 28
A Solo Exhibition in Culver City
October 22, 2011 – January 22, 2012
Opening Reception: Saturday, October 22, 2011, 6-9pm

LOS ANGELES, CA – September 29, 2011 – Award-winning photographer Sam Comen’s first solo exhibition, 28 at 28, premieres with an installation of over 100 works at Culver City’s NextSpace starting on Saturday, October 22, 2011.  28 at 28 is a serial portraiture study that captures the evolving lives of Comen’s peer group in a crisp, saturated style.  Comen unveils the first three years of this new body of work at a free public reception on October 22, 2011 from 6:00 to 9:00pm – on his 31st birthday. The choice of this date to debut the ongoing project calls attention to time’s passage, the integral throughline in 28 at 28. The two-story atrium of NextSpace will be transformed into a larger-than life timeline of Comen’s subjects in a taxonomic display of environmental and studio photographs. Beverages will be provided by Crispin Cider. The exhibition will run for three months through Sunday, January 22, 2012. NextSpace, a creative collaborative community workspace, is open to the public Monday through Friday from 8:30am to 5:30pm at 9415 Culver Blvd., Culver City, CA 90232. To learn more about the artist, please visit www.samcomen.com. To view 28 at 28 online, please visit www.28at28.com.

Carla Blieden, Nick Fowler, and Jerome Gordon from Sam Comen's 29 at 29.

In 2009, when Comen was 28, he initiated the project by shooting twenty-eight 28-year-olds. The next year he shot twenty-nine 29-year-olds – 29 at 29 – and he is currently shooting the same 29 people, plus one, for this year’s installment – 30 at 30. In the years to come, Comen will continue to follow this growing group and investigate how perspective and sense-of-self evolve with age.

28 at 28 is a photographic exploration of Comen’s peers – artists, actors, musicians, scientists, corporate managers, and municipal employees – as they embrace adulthood. The project, shot annually, occupies the photographic space that straddles document and fiction, incorporating both storytelling and portraiture.  Comen frames these subjects in their environments – their homes, backyards, neighborhoods, places of work – to examine how they define themselves as they search for meaning and authenticity in their evolving lives. A successful photojournalist and editorial photographer for national magazines, Comen fittingly applies the motifs and vernacular of commercial photography to his subjects, capturing the essence of his generation in the current cultural context.

“In my late 20s, I sensed that my peers and I were on the cusp – we were all either making strides in our careers and personal lives or searching for direction,” says Comen, a native Angeleno, “I felt like the next few years would inform the rest of our lives – it seemed a perfect time to begin a document of my peers, and by extension, my generation.”

Sam Comen –
Sam Comen seeks out stories that are salient in the American conscience, often working on a project for years at a time. Concurrent with shooting for Newsweek, Rolling Stone, Details, Entertainment Weekly, MTV, and Fortune in recent years, Comen has garnered awards and honors for his ongoing documentary photo essays. In 2010, he was awarded a Santa Fe Center for Photography grant in recognition of his Lost Hills series, which documented a small California community of Latino farmworkers struggling to create a new American Dream. Also in 2010, his 22 Miles of Normandie Avenue, an ongoing exploration of social and ethnic identity in the city, was featured in the Month of Photography Los Angeles’ (MOPLA) exhibition Dear Diary. Work from the two documentary series was also honored in 2011 when Comen was named one of the Critical Mass Top 50 and his work toured the Pacific Northwest in a series of exhibitions. Prints from Lost Hills and Normandie Avenue were also featured in MOPLA’s A Place in the Sun: Picturing California exhibition, also in 2011.

Sam Comen’s Newsweek-assigned portrait series, Watts Votes Obama, which documented Obama’s supporters on election day in the LA neighborhood synonymous with the racial tension in America, was included in the Photo District News Photo Annual 2008.  Comen’s work was also chosen for American Photo 26 in 2008.  He has been nominated for the PDN 30 and received a grant from The Penland School of Crafts in photography. He has shown work in galleries in Los Angeles, San Francisco, Seattle, Portland, OR and Santa Fe.

NextSpace –
NextSpace is a workplace for the new economy, providing innovative physical and virtual infrastructure for freelancers, entrepreneurs, and creative class professionals to succeed in the 21st Century knowledge economy. In an increasingly disconnected world, NextSpace creates a collaborative community that is revolutionizing the nature of work. For more information please call 310-606-2716 or visit http://nextspace.us.

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For more information, to request images, or arrange interviews please contact Green Galactic’s Lynn Tejada (née Hasty) at 213-840-1201 or lynn@greengalactic.com.

 

The complete set of Comen's initial group of subjects for 28 at 28.

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20 Years After LA’s Civil Unrest MOPLA Presents “Central Avenue: A Community Album”

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Twenty-years after LA’s 1992 civil unrest, the City turns its attention to South Los Angeles, where a photography exhibition in the heart of the community is taking a personalized approach to telling the history of one of LA’s storied neighborhoods. Central Avenue: A Community Album, premiering on Saturday, April 14, 2012 from 7:00 to 10:00pm, is a curated collection of previously unseen vernacular photographs submitted by neighborhood residents exhibited alongside a series of new portraits made in the same community by documentary photographer Sam Comen.  The exhibition of over 150 photographs contributed by residents and business owners portraying their lives in the neighborhood will be displayed in an immersive series of multiple projections in a new 3,000 square-foot retail space in the heart of the Central-Adams neighborhood.  The exhibit will present a retrospective of the rich cultural heritage of the area and a contemporary view into the state of that community today. Nearby youth center A Place Called Home will provide a jazz quintet.  Local small business owners will serve complimentary light food and beverages. Sapporo will provide complimentary beer. The projected installation will be up through Saturday, April 21, 2012 at 2515 S. Central Avenue, Los Angeles, CA 90011 at the corner of Adams Blvd. Central Avenue: A Community Album is part of Month of Photography – Los Angeles’ (MOPLA) citywide annual initiative that showcases the enormous photography community, inclusive of commercial, fine art and photojournalism.

Twenty-Years After LA’s 1992 Civil Unrest
Month of Photography Los Angeles (MOPLA) Presents
Central Avenue: A Community Album
An Immersive Projected Exhibition Showcasing
South LA Residents’ Own Images of Life on Historic Central Avenue
With New Portraits by Sam Comen
April 14 – 21, 2012
Opening Reception – Saturday, April 14th 7 – 10:00pm
CicLAvia Open House – Sunday April 15th 10:00am – 3:00pm
Gallery Hours – April 16 – 21 10:00am – 6:00pm

SOUTH LOS ANGELES, CA – April 5, 2012 - Twenty-years after LA’s 1992 civil unrest, the City turns its attention to South Los Angeles, where a photography exhibition in the heart of the community is taking a personalized approach to telling the history of one of LA’s storied neighborhoods. Central Avenue: A Community Album, premiering on Saturday, April 14, 2012 from 7:00 to 10:00pm, is a curated collection of previously unseen vernacular photographs submitted by neighborhood residents exhibited alongside a series of new portraits made in the same community by documentary photographer Sam Comen.  The exhibition of over 150 photographs contributed by residents and business owners portraying their lives in the neighborhood will be displayed in an immersive series of multiple projections in a new 3,000 square-foot retail space in the heart of the Central-Adams neighborhood.  The exhibit will present a retrospective of the rich cultural heritage of the area and a contemporary view into the state of that community today. Nearby youth center A Place Called Home will provide a jazz quintet.  Local small business owners will serve complimentary light food and beverages. Sapporo will provide complimentary beer. The projected installation will be up through Saturday, April 21, 2012 at 2515 S. Central Avenue, Los Angeles, CA 90011 at the corner of Adams Blvd. Central Avenue: A Community Album is part of Month of Photography – Los Angeles’ (MOPLA) citywide annual initiative that showcases the enormous photography community, inclusive of commercial, fine art and photojournalism.  For more about the project, visit https://www.facebook.com/events/263975363690596 and for more about photographer Sam Comen, visit www.samcomen.com.

Three photos collected from Central Avenue neighborhood residents.
From left to right: Erika Sanchez (1996); likely Walter Carnegie in Carnegie TV & Radio repair shop (1950s); Rigoberto Alonzo with his children (1986). Photos courtesy (left to right): Lluliana Alonzo, The Southern California Library for Social Studies and Research, Lluliana Alonzo

On the following day, Sunday, April 15th, there will be an open house and bike tour from CicLAvia’s hub – one mile north of the exhibition – at the African-American Firefighter’s Museum (1401 S Central Ave., Los Angeles, CA 90021) down to the exhibit between 10:00am – 3:00pm.  See below for more information on that event.

Central Avenue was the vibrant epicenter of African American culture and commerce during Los Angeles’ early 20th century boom through the 1940s.  Since then, Central Avenue experienced economic decline and blight proliferated, punctuated by civil unrest in 1965 and again in 1992.  Like many other neighborhoods in Los Angeles, over the past 30 years the Central Avenue community has become predominantly Latino, adding to the cultural and commercial diversity of this historic neighborhood. 

It’s been 20 years since the 1992 civil unrest, and two months since the dissolution of the CRA/LA, the redevelopment agency charged with revitalizing the scarred portion of the city. It’s an opportune time, organizers say, to re-focus public attention on Historic Central Avenue, and highlight not only its rich cultural heritage, but also the thriving community it has become.

“Set against the backdrop of Central Avenue, these family photos are true first-person accounts of life and work in this neighborhood,” said Sam Comen, magazine photographer and co-organizer of the exhibition.  “We’re daylighting these extraordinary photos that would never have been otherwise seen, and adding them to the historic record.”

Comen also produced a new series of portraits of Central Avenue area residents, which will be featured alongside the residents’ own photos. Over the course of six weeks, Comen walked, drove, and pushed a cart of photo gear through the community, and made portraits of the people he met in his wanderings. Of the experience, Comen said, “It was an incredible way to shoot, and experience the neighborhoods. I’ve conveyed in my pictures that this is not the blighted ‘South Central’ people may think of.”

The project has unfolded over the past three months as a small group of artists, urban planners, and business owners canvassed businesses, churches, community organizations and residents’ homes to solicit contributions from family albums for the show. More than 600 photos were scanned from 40 individual contributors.

“Central Avenue is one of the most storied neighborhoods in the city, but many of these stories have never been heard by those outside of South Los Angeles,” said Jason Neville, an urban planner working on Central Avenue, and co-organizing the exhibition. “By inviting Angelenos from across the city to Central Avenue to see these stories through residents’ family photos, this project is more than simply an exhibition, it is an arts-driven community revitalization effort.”

Organizers wanted the exhibition itself to help build the growing awareness of the flourishing neighborhood; the event is being held in a new retail space at the heart of Central Avenue, and the process of daily canvassing and conversations has created a buzz among locals eager to see what photos made the final cut. The exhibition will transform the space into an immersive environment of multiple photo projections.

“I’d like to think that it was small businesses like ours, who stayed in the community through its ups and downs, that helped generate this renaissance underway on Central Avenue,” said Vivian Bowers, exhibit co-organizer and owner of Bowers and Sons Cleaners, which has been on Central Avenue for over 60 years.  “The story of this, our community, is as diverse as the families living here, and it is a story worth telling.  That’s why this photo project is so very special.”

CicLAvia Bicycle Tours –
The exhibition was planned alongside the fourth CicLAvia, a one-day event in Los Angeles where 10 miles of roads are closed to cars, and 120,000 cyclists and pedestrians take to the streets.  CicLAvia will for the second time reach out to South LA, and Central Avenue: A Community Album organizers will lead hourly bike tours from the CicLAvia hub one mile to the exhibition. CicLAvia organizers have embraced these tours as a way to further engage South LA in their efforts. Tours will depart from the CicLAvia hub at the African-American Firefighter’s Museum at Central Ave. and 14th Street on the hour at 11:00am, 12:00pm, 1:00pm, and 2:00pm. To learn more please visit http://www.ciclavia.org.

MOPLA –
In April 2009, the inaugural Month of Photography Los Angeles (MOPLA) showcased the enormous photography community, inclusive of commercial, fine art and photojournalism. As the second largest photography community in the United States, Los Angeles provides a distinctive backdrop to the celebration of the photographic image. MOPLA was established and exists to advance the celebration of photography through a variety of events and programs designed to inspire and invigorate the photography professional, enthusiast, emerging professional and collector. MOPLA’s two-fold mission is to advance dynamic programming designed to engage and stimulate the photography community, as well as to present a comprehensive resource of exhibitions and events in April.

Central Avenue: A Community Album sponsors include Meta Housing, MOPLA, Samy’s Camera, Smashbox, Quixote, Box Brothers Downtown, Bowers And Sons Cleaners, Coalition for Responsible Community Development, CDTech, Primera Taza Coffee House, and A Place Called Home.

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For more information, to request images, or arrange interviews please contact Green Galactic’s Lynn Tejada at 213-840-1201 or lynn@greengalactic.com. For more information in Spanish, please contact Azusena Favela 323-401-1201 or afavela@cdtech.org.

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 Sam Comen’s new documentary portraits examine the same community portrayed in photos collected from area
residents’ family albums.  Photo credit Sam Comen.