Thursday, January 24, 2013

KPCC's John Rabe photo exhibit in LA Feb. 9

 As host of 89.3-KPCC’s Off-Ramp, John Rabe delights local public radio listeners with broadcasts combining the best journalistic practices with his highly personal style. “John Rabe's Acid Free,” a photo exhibit at Bermudez Projects in downtown Los Angeles, mirrors Rabe's broadcast style and, in 20 large-scale images, finds a take on LA we've never seen before. “John Rabe's Acid Free” opens February 9 and runs through March 23, 2013. 
The new photos can only be described as psychedelic, but Rabe says, “I never did acid. Pot, yes. Acid, no. I figured I was tripping enough already in everyday life. Sounds, colors, music, textures, and light have always popped for me. And just like in my radio show I want to hear beautifully imperfect human stories, I want my photos to show the beauty in the grit and the grain and the seams.”
In “John Rabe's Acid Free,” Rabe highlights and transforms the colors of the real world to find a parallel with the emotions of the scenes he photographs. 
So, LA County Supervisor Gloria Molina, in a garish outfit and jeweled sandals, looks like a queen as she inaugurates downtown's Grand Park. A fenced-off vacant lot looks like the Painted Desert. A stairway to the 110 freeway is a symphony of intersecting lines and color. In a series of four photos, hipster kids biking down Beverly on a hot summer day remind you a little of newspaper delivery boys ... dirty, sexy, sweaty newsboys. It's a little wrong, perhaps, but delicious. LA's ubiquitous air traffic is transformed into the birds and the bees: a swarm of helicopter gnats, a hummingbird airliner heading to its nest in the trees, a chopper bee looks for nectar in a date palm. 
And LA never looked more beautiful than the weekend Space Shuttle Endeavour paraded through town. “I was extraordinarily lucky,” Rabe says. “I got to walk in front of Endeavour from Westchester to Randy's Donuts. The crowd's euphoria still brings me to tears when I think about that day.” Rabe captures the Shuttle in its awesome glory crawling through Inglewood, a fenceful of onlookers radiating the joy of the day; and a quintessential American: a Middle-Eastern man perched atop a mobile home, shooting video, oblivious to all else.
Rabe's photos were all taken on his iPhone and printed as giclées on heavy stock. They're big - 16 x 24 inches and 20 x 20 inches. Rabe shoots on the iPhone that serves as his backup sound recorder, and uses various apps to process them. “I print them big,” he says, “because these photos shout to be big.” 
Just as he does every week on his radio show Off-Ramp, which just won another Golden Mike for best public affairs program, the photos in “John Rabe's Acid Free” show LA honestly and lovingly, un-cynically and un-jaded, in a mix of fresh and familiar voices. They might help you see LA in a new way, too.
“John Rabe's Acid Free” opens Saturday, February 9 and runs through March 23, 2013 at Bermudez Projects. The opening reception is Saturday, February 9 from 7-10 p.m.
Bermudez Projects is at 117 W. 9th Street, Space 810, Los Angeles, California 90015. Available 7 days a week. Please contact to schedule a visit.

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