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Wall Street Project – Statement of Purpose

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About six years ago, I took a photography class at Pasadena City College. I was working for the city of Los Angeles at the time, and I felt unfulfilled professionally, creatively — maybe even philosophically. It was a strange point, both in my life and in my career. I had recently graduated from Columbia University’s Graduate School of Journalism, but was no longer working in the field, and I felt extremely adrift. As a result, I found myself in the basement classroom at PCC taking a portfolio class. After much deliberation, I decided that I would focus on downtown Los Angeles between the hours of 6 pm and 6 am — a photojournalism-slash-art project to document the hidden side of things.

During those long, cold nights, I met a number of interesting people: night shift workers, emergency personnel and, of course, the homeless. In my wanderings, I came across Wall Street in Los Angeles, a dilapidated, ugly, smelly piece of sidewalk running through Skid Row. I was struck by the contrast between that dirty road and the shiny, wealthy idea we collectively share about the words “Wall Street.” It’s a significant disconnect, similar in a way to the word “Hollywood,” and the actual neighborhood of Los Angeles where people live, go to work, get thrown out of dive bars, etc.

Wall Street was going to be a project; I just had no idea how it was going to work. That is, until my wife Donna and I moved to the Arts District in May 2012. Our loft sits just off the Fourth Street bridge, or about a half-mile from Wall Street. But the project needed to be expanded. After some brainstorming, Donna and I thought the best plan was to attempt to document all of the Wall Streets in California. During a week in July 2013, the two of us travelled nearly 2,000 miles up and down the state, taking pictures and hearing stories.

We’re far from done, but I’m pleased with what we’ve come up with so far. The images and articles will be organized into book form, and the best photographs will be part of an art show planned for Oct. 13 2013. This art show is not just a reason for a party, but also a fundraiser for the Avon Breast Cancer Walk. One of Donna’s best friends, Jill, was diagnosed earlier this year at the age of 42; my mother died from the disease two months prior to her 50th birthday. The issue is clearly very personnel to both of us. If you can donate or show up to the show, please do so.

But in any event, please look through these images, and let us know what you think. At the moment, much of the photography is mine, but Donna’s shots will be added in during the coming days and weeks.

 

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Start the Presses: On the Road to find Wall Street
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The Journey Begins — Coffee shop, Bakersfield

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