Photo LA | Experimentation and the Avant-garde


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Jennifer Gunlock, Eric Minh Swenson and Kristine Schomaker

Photo LA is the first of an exciting line-up of Art Fairs this second week of January. We had the pleasure of attending the opening night reception, as well as visiting over the following weekend. As one artist pointed out, you have to attend more than one day. We went home on Sunday afternoon, saturated, educated and fulfilled. In our everyday world, we are exposed to thousands of images a day. We may only get glimpses but they become seared in our conscious. At Photo LA, we slow down. We look, observe and absorb the process, artistry, finesse and skill of each work.
We asked artists and gallerists about their experiences at Photo LA.

Kathy Curtis Cahill

Shoebox PR: “As an artist, what has your experience been like exhibiting your work?”

Kathy: “I think if you are looking for feedback, for commentary, it’s a very good place to be. I don’t think it’s a great place to sell. I think there is a tremendous amount to look at and people get overwhelmed. It’s like a buffet and you don’t know what to take. People who are selling are selling historical and vintage photos or smaller prints under $100 but that doesn’t pay the rent. For me it is an investment in exposure because I have gotten to know a lot of people. I’ve been asked, “have you shown in Los Angeles?” “Do you know this gallery, or that?“ “You should contact this person.” So the networking, visibility and exposure, since I am fairly new to the photo scene in LA, have been invaluable. I will say, if you have your own booth, your work is unified, you are going to make much more of an impression. Visually the clutter is too much. The ones that make the most impression are the ones that are less crowded or consistent in the way they hang the work.”
Shoebox PR: “Have you seen any trends in subject matter, content, style?”

Kathy: “I have seen a lot of the classics; Musicians, celebrities, historical moments. There are a lot of interesting bodies of work. The show Photo LA sponsored, FOCUS, was overall my favorite booth. I was really impressed because you have so many different people. It was a true gallery within Photo LA. I haven’t really seen any trends. Some international feel, but didn’t see anything in particular that I would say wow I need to jump on that trend.”

Shoebox PR: “Are there any other observations you would like to tell us?”

Kathy: “I think if it’s your first time here it’s overwhelming. But it depends on what you are coming for. I do recommend a multi-day pass because it is too much to see in one day. You can become saturated.”

Kathy Curtis Cahill

Maureen Van Leeuwen Haldeman
Shoebox PR: “Have you noticed any trends at Photo LA?”

Maureen: “I have been here many times over the past years, but this year seems more avant-garde.”




Richard S. Chow
Shoebox PR: “You are here at Photo LA as part of Open Show LA. Can you tell us a little about the organization?”

Richard: “Open show LA is a nonprofit organization that puts on events every six weeks to allow photographers to show their work to collectors/peers so they can get feedback from their portfolio…or, just basically to have a venue to show their finished project. It is a great thing for artists, audiences and the hosting venue. We show at galleries, studios, schools or any other associations that will allow us to come in and host for an evening.

Shoebox PR: “You seem to be bypassing the gallery system by going DIY like so many artists today. Is that how you see it?”

Richard: “I think it is an opportunity for photographers to cohesively think about their work and present it in a way that is professional. It’s not a show, per se, because we show projected slides and the photographers talk about their work.”



Tami Bahat
Shoebox PR: “Have you shown at Photo LA before?”

Tami: “This is my second time. The experience has been incredible personally. The best part of Photo LA is the connection. Being able to connect on a personal level has been amazing.”

Shoebox PR: “Is there anything different than the last time?”

Tami: “I like a lot of the alternative process work, The quirkier work. There is quite a lot of it this year.”


Tami Bahat


Mishelle Moross
Shoebox PR: “What is your connection with Venice Institute of Contemporary Art?”

Mishelle: “I am ignorant in photography. I don’t understand abstract photography because I don’t have a reference point. So Juri [Koll, director of the Venice Institute of Contemporary Art] is teaching me the history of where it comes from. I am realizing the photographer sometimes has to be a therapist of the subject that they are photographing. Sometimes they have to create the object which presents the incredible image. I am so impressed in the incredibly different medium it is and crazy you have to be to get to that level of insanity in a totally different way. I am learning how crazy photographers really are. This show is just a taste of the exhibition we are hosting at Muzeumm in March.”


Jay Mark Johnson


Debe Arlook
Shoebox PR: “What is your overall impression of Photo LA this year?”

Debe: “Photo LA is more than the importance of looking at the printed photograph and seeing how they’re framed. It’s connecting with fellow photographers, gallerists, curators and collectors; making new relationships, strengthening established ones and learning from a great roster of speakers. Each year I meet some of the greats of the photo world and hear their stories. This year did not disappoint. The infusion of photo art, education and community is a strong way to kick off the new year and I’m feeling good.”




  1. Well, … I thought the opposite. As someone who visited numerous times and had my works shown few times, I thought this Photo LA was almost amazingly underwhelming. And I don’t mean by quantity, but by what had been shown there. I think the show is becoming transparent shadow of itself. In 25 minutes I have seen it all.
    There were none of the international Galleries of the past. There was very few Galleries from outside California. In fact, many booths didn’t have any Gallery identification at all. They seemed like a sweet deal to someone, just to fill the space, as the real Galleries balked from ever increasing prices of the booths and ever decreasing interest from people who actually collect art and photography.

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