Anthony Lepore Takes a Walk Inspired by Robert Adams

April 12, 2012

Anthony Lepore is the most recent contributor to our Artists Respond series – artists creating web-based projects inspired by exhibitions on view at LACMA. Lepore chose Robert Adams: The Place We Live as his jumping-off point.

For his project, Night Walk, Lepore designed a map-based interface, populated with nighttime photos he took during walks in his Pasadena neighborhood.

Night Walk. © Anthony Lepore, All Rights Reserved.

LEPORE: The map image is a Google Earth image of the area where I live, in Pasadena. I wanted viewers to see the geographical relationship between the San Gabriel Mountains and the flats of suburban Pasadena.

From the map, you can select and view photographs Lepore made during evening walks around his neighborhood with his dog.

Mount Wilson Road and Eaton Saddle. © Anthony Lepore, All Rights Reserved.

LEPORE: This is taken from Mount Lowe. It’s the highest mountain that you can easily climb to in the front range of the Angeles National Forest.  We take friends here for our “Wow, LA isn’t what you expect” hike. The entire city sparkles beneath you.  There’s a strange relationship between the quiet darkness of the mountains and the sea of electricity below.

A project by Robert Adams called Summer Nights informed Lepore’s approach.

LEPORE: Adams was making photographs on his summer evening walks around the Denver area. I love his nighttime photographs–there is something strange and extraterrestrial about this body of work.  Adams hovers like a visitor around the edges of his city peering into lit windows and empty streets.  The hot desert sun has been replaced by streetlamps and rolling carnival lights.

Adams is one of my favorite photographers, but when I first came across his work in college I found it a little boring.  It took some time, and discovering Adam’s book Los Angeles Spring, for me to really connect with his photographs.  They are quiet, precise, never wasteful and deeply human. They document an unsteady changing line between the wild and suburbia, carrying the echo of both a sunny hymn and a eulogy.

E. Washington Blvd. and N. Harding Ave. © Anthony Lepore, All Rights Reserved.

LEPORE: Recently, Pasadena was hit by a crazy windstorm.  It was like a mad fever dream all night, like being on a small boat.  Since then I’ve been gathering debris from the windstorm and making impromptu still lifes, like the picture of the daisy bush coming through the blinds. I found these blinds in the street – they had been blown off a house. The lighting comes from a security lamp on someone’s front lawn. I was excited to create something on my walks, using the evening darkness like a black studio backdrop.

Lepore says that growing up in Burbank, his own relationship to nature had been somewhat mediated. Through photography, he started to explore the landscape of Southern California.

LEPORE: My mom worked for Disney for most of my childhood, and we visited Disneyland often. I loved the way the shiny and molded landscapes tried so earnestly to recreate the wilderness.  While some kids were hiking through the Sierras, I was zooming through the Matterhorn and rolling along the rivers of Splash Mountain.

Exploring the ways we recreate nature points to both our separation from it, and our deep need to be part of it.  Nature exists for us in the way we mold it and the way we see it.

E. Washington Blvd. and Belford Ave. © Anthony Lepore, All Rights Reserved.

More about Anthony Lepore.

Amy Heibel

A Public Monument to the Fruit Tree

January 3, 2011

The grass has grown in around a notable project at the northwest corner of campus, near Fairfax Avenue: The Public Fruit Theater, Los Angeles, 2010, designed and built by La Loma Development. La Loma collaborated with artist collective Fallen Fruit to build the theater as part of our year-long investigation EATLACMA, which concluded this past November. The Public Fruit Theater remains, as what landscape architect Marco Barrantes calls “a monument to the fruit tree.”


Photo courtesy of La Loma Development

The fruit tree is surrounded by a garden wall composed of broken concrete from the sidewalks and driveways that paved over Southern California orchards beginning around 100 years ago.  Marco and his partner, Michelle Matthews, often design with broken concrete. “Recycled concrete is perhaps the most local, sustainable, renewable resource at our disposal,” says Marco. “Often it goes into landfill or piles up at recycling facilities.” Instead, La Loma used different forms of recycled concrete for the retaining wall, the base, and for the drainage gravel.

They used a technique, called drystack terracing, to build the garden wall without mortar—a technique that dates back thousands of years. “Drystack terraces were used throughout the Andes, including at at Machu Pichu,” says Marco, who is from Peru, but grew up in Southern California. “Drystacking results in a malleable, adaptable wall. Instead of cracking or settling, it will just adjust to the landscape. If you’re going to do landscaping in the hills, or even in flat areas, like LACMA, it’s a great landscape material—there’s nothing better.” The garden is zero maintenance, due to terraforming and the use of gravel base and backing to prevent water-logged soil and roots from pressing up against the garden wall. “You should be able to enjoy a garden without having to mow or use a leaf blower,” says Marco.

Michelle says the duo takes inspiration from permaculture and land art. “There are connections between land art, or earth works, the landscape and our gardens at home,” says Michelle. “If done right, there can be beauty in retaining walls. Landscape art can be an integral and aesthetic part of the urban fabric.”

This time-lapse video shows the project coming together over the course of ten days. Each piece of broken concrete is hand-picked and chiseled and fit together like a puzzle. John Bowsher, director of special installations at LACMA, helped Marco and Michelle navigate that process in order to realize their vision. “Because people can sit on it, climb on it, and because we called it an amphitheater, the project was subject to some special requirements,” Marco explains.

“While we typically prefer to remove lawns in Southern California, we were delighted to see the monument enveloped by a field of green” says Michelle. “There is a busy bus stop nearby, but the fruit theater is this quiet, meditative place. I hope the public will use it and see it as a place of relaxation and an opportunity to reflect upon our local landscape and how we can make our city more enjoyable, healthy and beautiful through sustainable means.”

Amy Heibel

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