This year’s PhotoLA was held at the venerable Santa Monica Civic Auditorium near the beaches of Santa Monica Bay. A five-day event, it offered works on display from 35 galleries and included a lecture series. I attended both the lecture on Vivian Maier and Stephen Shore’ s talk on his career. The Maier lecture reminded me that critics are not photographers and seldom truly understand the process, and that curators are to be commended for performing a very difficult task requiring a solid understanding of the history of photography.
This was the 21st annual PhotoLA – I’ve attended all of them since they began. I’ve seen it ebb and flow – change venues, some years charged with electricity and others more relaxed. In today’s economy, I think it takes great courage to create events of this kind. Collectors say they love to meet the photographers yet they do all they can to remain anonymous and thus, at PhotoLA and other photo shows, the dealers try to discern the real collectors from the casual observers with little or no success. I didn’t detect a solid identifiable trend this year, while in some past years they could be terribly obvious, and this is perhaps a good thing as the “flavor’s of the month” generally become flashes in the pan in subsequent years. The art of photography is dynamic and very much alive and as always, the market decides who the winners are.