Ansel Adams: Los Angeles Photographer

Dunno bout you, but the people I meet & become acquainted with mostly come from the creative/artistic label.  I don’t consider myself creative or artsy. The fact I have so much trouble writing/blogging these things for some of you only proves my point. Nevertheless, somehow these types just magically appear in my circle.  When the artist is ready, the dog will appear, I suppose.

As an example, I give you the past weekend at the newest Euro Pane Bakery & Cafe. I’m speaking with two girls. Sharing our photographs with each other. Turns out they both graduated from Art Center College of Design here in Pasadena! Graphic artists. See what I mean. I’ve come across many of these sort, from scientists to entertainers at Euro Pane.  Maybe that’s the problem – I need to change cafes!

Here’s a Cafe Pasadena’s Believe It or Not!: I’ve even come across a few on the blogosphere!. Is there no sacred ground left??  For example, our own Petrea blogs and also does, uh, whatever.  I mentioned her a few times here early on in her blogging career.  But there are many others I need to tell you to watch out for but for my lagging, lazy blogging. Admittedly if I had many more readers I’d feel more guilt and stress to “produce”.   So things could be worse.

Admittedly, most of these artsy people are talented. They can doodle, I can’t.  They can speak long or twisted sounding words that make you think you’re talking to a foreigner, or a cat. I talk only canine.  You can say one word to them, “action”, for example, and they can instantly turn into a nervous tearful breakdown!  Me, no can do. So, it’s only right I write about such artistic/creative behaviors here.


Which brings me to let y’all know about another creative guy, a professional shutterbug: Ansel Adams.  Sadly, Ansel is no longer with us but he left behind his calling card – wonderful photographs.  It was through another creative person making me aware of how she wanted to see this newest gallery opening on his Los Angeles photography.  Of course. So a group of creative’s, plus one, me, decided to check it out at the drkrm gallery in Downtown Los Angeles…



Opening night reception on Spring Street, DTLA



Drkrm Photo Ad This is what we came for: Ansel Adams Los Angeles

It was to run only through mid-March. The show will now go until April 21st!  There’s your 2nd chance.


Adams made his name via his nature photography, especially of Yosemite. But this presentation from the Ansel Adams collection of the LA Public Library would show a little known side of his – street/urban photography – specifically, Los Angeles circa 1940. 



The night is still young but it’s already busy! Can we get in? Well, we got in, no problem! Most attendees actually look to be looking at these black and whites (a good sign!).


Whereas Adams loved to shoot the natural environment, these city images were taken on commission for Fortune magazine. The article was called, “City of Angels”, of all things!    About 200 images are in the library collection, with 60 on display here at the drkrm gallery.



But we arrived early relative to the group which included the creative person who “planned” this whole idea.  So while we waited for them I started shooting up the dark streets of Los Angeles. That’s one shot of a lady shutterbug. 


A couple approached us and asked, “is that parking across the street (gallery)?”  Sure is! I parked there. it’s the closes thing to the gallery, I said.  “How much you pay?”  Just $5, said I. “Oh, we just parked 2 blocks away and paid $15!”  They were from the OC.




The Letter.  Ansel Adams wrote to the Los Angeles Public Librarian to basically, “take these photographs off my hands! Please!!”   He estimated the value (as of 1960) of this collection of his 200+ pictures to be as low as $100!  Obviously Adams felt these were some of his throw-aways.

As you can see we had decided to head inside.  Without our leader & her group. Patience ran empty and my thoughts were beginning to shift to food. They had stopped for a ride(s) on Angels Flight and obviously were having too much fun going up & down, up & down,…up & down, and couldn’t get off.  They did make it to Clifton’s Cafeteria, however. I know Clifton’s is closed but they got in – such was the night.







The drkrm gallery owner, John Matkowsky, was also the curator of this event. The library approached him about this project. Talk about good fortune!  Matkowsky says he tried to duplicate them the way Adams would have printed them. They look good is all I know.




Those not particularly into looking or buying photographs had their own room in the gallery: Wine & Snacks!








I was very happy to meet this pair of Abercrombie & Fitch girls.  More so when they told me they were from the Pasadena area. A colorful highlight of an otherwise black N white night.







Back in the good old days of L.A. it appears the girls were ready to meet, drink, and make-out.  Love them old traditional values.



Btw, did someone mention Art Center College of Design??  I learned Ansel Adams was very technically proficient at his craft to point he actually taught taught photography at Art Center!




But I digress…my height has it advantages.


There is a wealth of material on Ansel Adams career, and this particular gallery event and its photographs.  Check out the L.A. Times, L.A. Weekly, as well as the drkrm gallery link above, just as a start.  This article is just a tiny taste of the exhibit.  And it won’t be as busy as opening night, so don’t let people keep you away.



P1680035b  Name Tags 








Raw Bites

Right next door to the gallery, also on S. Spring St, is Raw Bites Happy Food. Tell Julie the Chef/Owner that Cafe Pasadena sent you.





A few in the audience were more than lookie-loos. They exchanged greens for black N whites.  Art, like the art of politics for example, is also about buying & selling; money.  Back 50 yrs ago when Ansel Adams donated these hundreds of photographs to the L.A. Public Library he estimated their entire value to be worth at least $100.   Nowadays, Adams’ throwaways are catching $2,500 for a single framed print.





Well, it was about time we left this scene.  I have more articles I need to write on my creative friends, including on another gallery of artists in DTLA, then on another friend of mine which is only a year late in telling you about! But, wow, now I need to catch my breath! Catch some L.A. fresh night aire.  Outside the gallery I saw this massive long line down Spring Street waiting to come inside! I must’ve been very lucky to be able to come In-N-Out as I pleased. Or maybe it was just meant to be.


Recommended: 3 Thumbs Up.


Okay, I’m done here. Another one down, a few more to go!




Gotta Get Going! Stay Thirsty My Friends

Drkrm Photo Ad


10 responses to “Ansel Adams: Los Angeles Photographer

  1. I felt like I was there with you too, puppy dog. What a buzzing and vibrant scene – always wonderful to see people out and appreciating creative works. {And I love the facade of Raw Bites Happy Food. And their name. I’ll bet their food does taste happy.}

  2. wow! I’m glad I stopped by or I would have missed this!!! When I saw your caption…I thought…oh no…Ansel only took photos in my neck of the woods…turns out in both necks of my woods…(I am originally from SoCal as you remember!!!)
    I’ll be down there at the end of next week and am going to try to get to this showing!!! When is a good time? (as in no lines!)