URBAN INK - WINTER LIGHT
Los Angeles, California. November 2018.
Inspired by memories of a youth associated with surf and skate culture, I travelled to Los Angeles to document just some of the characters that constitute the tapestry of the town they call Venice.
Meet Rudolph. United States Marine Corp and Vietnam Veteran.
Our paths crossed one late afternoon. Watching the sun lean toward the sea, we sat and talked about service, the past, and the future.
Admist the rhythm and rumble of traffic he talks and I listen to this gentle soul describe his journey.
A story of family and friends lost, but with a tone of underlying optimism and inner strength.
And hope. Hope that one day he would reunite with his family, leave these shores and his tented home behind.
“Art was an escape”
“Escape. Art was an escape.” Jorge announces. Leaving behind the gangs of Mexico City, he found new light within the streets of LA, and in particular, here in Venice.
His body tells a story, of dark and light, of paths travelled, corners turned and steps taken.
“I’ll never go back. This is home.”
While the location and land may differ, Tohid’s story isn’t dissimilar.
Raised in Iran, conflicted by political culture and a jarring sense of creative conscience, he describes the challenges of his upbringing.
He recalls how a love of (and evident talent for) creative arts, skateboarding and the sea brought him to these shores and to this patch of tarmac.
“I love it. I love my girlfriend. I love what I do and I love the vibe. It’s home - at least for now.”
He has clients patiently waiting, and as we shake hands and bid one another farewell I leave, with my spirit is lifted by this encounter.
With the soft Californian sun warming the palms of the beach I head to the skate park, where silhouetted by evening light, a tribe has gathered.
Shapes shift and shadows glide in silent synchronisation above, below and within an undulating sea of cobalt.
Artist. Author. Intellectual. There are many words that could describe this beautiful man. However, if pushed, for me it’d be content. He oozes it.
Softly spoken, I ask him about what his art stands for and within minutes he leads me on a cerebral journey of colours, casts, shades, shapes and textures. All of this before we dive deep into his musings of beliefs, value and identify.
Deep man, deep.
As I walk back to my car I reflect upon days like these.
Days where as a photographer I feel fortunate to meet new people, maybe make new friends, and to remind me to challenge what the news would lead us to otherwise believe.
With the incessant media diatribe and talk of borders, control, crime, exclusion, it reminds me to challenge this bombardment, and dismiss the cheap ingredients thrown all too easily on the the fire of regression. While some of us may say we don’t believe all we hear, we have seen society revert to an arguably secular one.
So perhaps, possibly, and in some small way, it’s these encounters that count the most. To dip our toes into the waters of such melting pots, to challenge our perceptions, remind us of our true, so-called “best” self, in order to nurture our sense of acceptance and inclusion.
“Take a walk on the wild side.”