By VITTORIA BENZINE September, 2021
Over the past 22 years, the has worked “to build a community of dedicated photographers to strengthen the importance of photography as an art form by providing education, events, exhibitions, mentorships, and public programs.” While industry folks today generally accept photography as a load-bearing medium in the art historical canon, the craft has faced resistance from some circles, especially at the start of its existence, strikingly short compared with the extensive history of mediums like pure painting. To celebrate their mission of advocacy, and support their efforts for the year ahead, LACP will host its at 5:00PM on Saturday, October 2nd, with an accompanying digital auction to benefit the center currently now through Monday, October 4th.
This time around, LACP’s gala will take place online, hosted by American actor Ben Giroux and centering around its title theme, “The Year of Gratitude and Hope,” a nod to the center’s enthusiasm for photography’s bright future, and society’s first year fighting free from the pandemic’s chaos. The virtual event will create an immersive environment where guests can bid through on actual noteworthy experiences such as a portrait sitting with Mona Kuhn and other opportunities involving visual heavyweights like Mitch Dobrowner, Ibarionex Perello, Matthew Rolston, and Art Streiber.
Additionally, LACP’s annual gala will honor LA-based fine art photographer Mona Kuhn with the prestigious Steiglitz award, named for Alfred Stieglitz himself, “to honor an extremely accomplished member of the photographic community—someone who continually gives back to the community, to emerging photographers, to students, and to the LACP.”
LACMA curator Rebecca Morse will present Kuhn with this year’s Stieglitz Award for both her work and her persona in the storied city she calls home. The German/Brazilian photographer’s states she’s “considered a leading artist in the world of figurative discourse,” best known for large-scale, luminous portraits possessing an angelic iridescence, no matter the level of contrast and structure present. Always spiritually-inclined, Kuhn’s latest series, , floats past the decisive medium’s boundaries with images that gently layer desert subjects and dreamy reflections atop each other. By way of community involvement, Kuhn currently serves as an independent scholar at The Getty Research Institute in Los Angeles and sometimes teaches at UCLA and the Art Center College of Design in Pasadena.
Special guest and acclaimed American actor Norman Reedus (best known for his starring role in zeitgeist AMC horror drama The Walking Dead) will make a two-fold appearance throughout the festivities, gracing both the virtual gala and the auction, as a subject of one of the photos for sale.
Hosted by Artsy, the benefit auction currently underway proffers an unmissable opportunity at 144 lots—an extraordinary collection of contemporary fine art from a multitude of the industry’s largest names, all “donated by artists, galleries, collectors, and institutions,” as LACP’s press release explains. For those with a taste for classic Hollywood iconography, the expansive online event offers celebrity portraits ranging from a sultry shot of Naomi Campbell captured for Italian Vogue by Pamela Henson in 1994 to a pensive portrayal of Bob Odenkirk taken by Ian Spanier in 2021. There are natural scenes of camel drivers and pandas and primates, candid shots of cheerleaders and families on the Q Train, and far-reaching landscapes from South Africa to Moscow.
What unites the disparate digital roundup of prints is their quality, their precise perspectives, and their concrete assurance that photography (like life) is every ounce the valid art form that any other traditional medium might claim. Enthusiasts local to the Los Angeles can visit LACP’s Culver City Gallery at 5566 West Washington Blvd during business hours through October 7th to witness an exhibition of Mona Kuhn’s work and a specially curated selection of photographs from the large-scale online auction. No appointments are necessary.
As the past twenty years have brought highly sophisticated image-capturing equipment into the pockets of laypeople around the globe in the form of smart phones, some might worry that photography’s hard-won reputation as a respectable art form could be back on the outs, but Los Angeles knows better. A veritable birthplace of modern visual culture, this sun-drenched city can make anything golden with just a little bit of the right light. LACP’s everyday efforts and annual gala, this year speaking to “The Year of Hope and Gratitude,” offer firm assurance that photography is here to stay at the forefront of fine art, a decisive voice in the creation of our collective culture. Support their mission or simply revel in the fruits of their labor online or in person through October 7th.WM
Vittoria Benzine is a street art journalist and personal essayist based in Brooklyn, New York. Her affinity for counterculture and questioning has introduced her to exceptional artists and morally ambiguous characters alike. She values writing as a method of processing the world’s complexity. Send love letters to her via: @vittoriabenzine // email@example.com // vittoriabenzine.com
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