Los Angeles, A City Filled With Hope on November 3, 2020

There was no possibility that I was going to watch the news or doom scroll on Twitter on election night. As I grabbed a back up battery, I rushed out the front door. I always carry an extra SanDisk card in case I forget my card in my camera which last night I did as I was anxious to get into the city and in my car I went. Beginning on Sunset Blvd, I headed east from Laurel Canyon. That’s when I began to see my city with boarded up stores as far as Western Avenue. I stopped by Objets d’Art & Spirit, to see the owner who has worked for decades to build her dream in Los Angeles. This store was on LaCienega for nearly three decades and is now on Sunset Blvd. My heart hurt to see her store being boarded up with plywood.

Motion Picture Editors Guild on Sunset Blvd.

Objets’ d’art and Spirit.

Self Portrait on Sunset Blvd. 


This sign gave me hope.














I parked my car so I could walk my city. Yes, my city. I grew up in Los Angeles specifically in the San Fernando Valley. Back in the 70’s, there was less crime. The worst thing that happened here was a hub cap was stolen off a car. The abuse went on behind closed doors. Now, as I walked around with my camera near Western and Sunset, I saw the taco truck where people gathered to place their orders. One man was hanging lights as the others were cooking meat and vegetables and onions over a hot grill. I saw people on their cell phones and others waiting for the bus. Mothers holding their children’s hands, a couple taking off on their skateboards after a quick chat with me. I was filled with so much hope for my city, my country, our world. 

As I drove south towards Melrose, I still had no idea how close the polls were. I thought of my father, who came to this country from Poland as an immigrant after working with the Hebrew Immigrant Aid Society for five years, to get the proper permissions to enter America. His hopes were to start a new life, a life after the Holocaust and America was his chosen dream. My father taught me that with hard work, I could create my own dream and I did but it required dedication, commitment and a never ending drive and persistance to become a stunt woman in Hollywood.

As I drove west on Melrose and saw more store fronts all covered with wood to protect the stores from the inevitable damage, I stopped at another taco bar on the street. There were 4 people working there from the women chopping the onions to the one creating the warm tortillas to the men again cooking the various meats. I thought of my father, who worked at least 4 different jobs to put food on the table for his five children. I passed movie studios were I have worked over the three decades in Hollywood not only as a stunt woman but in locations. My dreams came true in this city. I know this city like no other from where to park without getting a ticket to where to get the best street taco.  Still, I remained hopeful for the outcome of this election. 









As I drove south on Highland and headed to Wilshire Blvd and onto Beverly Hills, I had heard that Rodeo Blvd was boarded up but I had no idea what was in store for me. Not only boarded up stores but all access to Rodeo Blvd was blocked with barriers, police and security guards. Here, I spoke to a young man and asked if he knew where we were in the polls. He said it was close. I asked him who he voted for as I could feel his answer in my bones. “Trump” he replied “And now I regret it.” I had no words so I stayed silent. This was the first time I checked my phone all evening to see the poll numbers. 




Photographing Beverly Hills and all our city with boards up and down the streets hurt my heart. What has happened to our country and can we save it? When I awoke this morning, November 4, my dear friend Ruth, who has been building homes in Los Angeles for years, posted the poem “Good Bones” by Maggie Smith on Instagram and wrote “America! I believe you have good bones.” Maggie Smith writes out of experience of motherhood, inspired by her children. And, Ruth, who has worked so hard to raise her two children in Los Angeles, gave me hope this morning.

I thought of my father, who would buy the crummiest homes because he said “It had good bones” and how he bought homes and built homes all over the San Fernando Valley to support his children and give them a better life than he had in Poland. I awoke with hope, again. 




Good Bones by Maggie Smith


Life is short, though I keep this from my children.
Life is short, and I’ve shortened mine
in a thousand delicious, ill-advised ways,
a thousand deliciously ill-advised ways
I’ll keep from my children. The world is at least
fifty percent terrible, and that’s a conservative
estimate, though I keep this from my children.
For every bird there is a stone thrown at a bird.
For every loved child, a child broken, bagged,
sunk in a lake. Life is short and the world
is at least half terrible, and for every kind
stranger, there is one who would break you,
though I keep this from my children. I am trying
to sell them the world. Any decent realtor,
walking you through a real shithole, chirps on
about good bones: This place could be beautiful,
right? You could make this place beautiful.

Kickstarter 84% funded! 5 days to go! Please back this important project about domestic violence.

We have just hit 200 backers with 5 days to go and 84% funded! Please take 4 minutes and watch my video.


This project is about domestic violence, mother-daughter reconciliation, forgiveness, compassion, family and hope.

Daniel Milnor wrote an eloquent blog about photographers helping other photographers. It’s the basis of why we are all here, not just all artists but all humans. There is more to life than eating, sleeping, working and vacation. We are meant to reach out and touch each other.


There have been so many angels helping back this campaign. We couldn’t do this without all of your support and belief. I believe that the photographers job is to reveal the truth, even if it’s not the most popular subject. I immerse myself for years at a time with dedication to my photography and cannot pretend for the sake of protecting family secrets.  We must uncover truths especially if it’s sad because our job as artists to help others feel.  I’m not afraid to be a truth sayer. Photography is a journey of self discovery and at the same time, helping others.

I am partnering with FotoEvidence, who has created 24 photography books documenting social injustice. From their website:

3 January 2017

2 May 2016

4 July 2016

“FotoEvidence Women is a new chapter of FotoEvidence Press, a space for free expression, devoted to engaged women photographers who want to tell their stories in the form of a photo book. Though their lenses women can shape the world differently and we want to give them this chance. “

Introducing Book Project: He Threw the Last Punch Too Hard

I’m grateful to announce that my ten year project on my mother, has a publisher. This has been a 10 year journey of writing and photographing her. In the process it began a reconciliation of a mother-daughter relationship after domestic violence, as well as a story of forgiveness and compassion.

Please have a look at my short video:


We have 32 days to back the project! Please help us make this come true!

From my 10 year project, He Threw the Last Punch Too Hard.

Michael Jackson’s Love continues 9 Years Later

© hannah kozak
Queenie – Hong Kong banner

© hannah kozak
One Rose for MJ

June 25, 2009 – I was a stuntwoman hired to work on Iron Man 2. As I drove on the 101 Freeway in the late afternoon, heading to the location in downtown Los Angeles, I couldn’t stop thinking about Michael and wrap my head around the fact that he was gone.  The news of his death had been announced only a few hours prior, and a part of me refused to believe it. When I met the stunt coordinator, I casually mentioned it, not wanting to seem like a fanatic.  Boy, how I would let go of that need years later.  The scene called for three stuntwomen to be running away from gigantic robots. One of the stuntmen landed on me and, as I would find out days later, broke a few of my ribs. I couldn’t breathe but I got up and did the shot again.  For some reason, getting hurt always made me go inside and ponder.

© hannah kozak
Angel of Light card “Smile” – Michael’s favorite song

After researching, writing, blogging and sharing my photos with Michael Jackson fans around the world for nine years, I grew to not care what people thought about my “obsession” with Michael. Actually, I began to believe that if you tell me what you think about Michael, I will tell you who you are.  Thus, began my search for the truth about who Michael Jackson was.

This year, like annual clockwork, the media has begun the totally baseless smear stories one month before the anniversary of Michael’s passing.  The medialoid  (mainstream media infected by tabloid journalism) loves to feed a constant diet of trash and lies about Michael. And his fans begin to defend him, as always, standing firmly for the truth and defending his legacy.  I look forward to the day when Michael’s volunteer work for children trends instead of the lies.  In the meantime, I continue my work on the anniversary of his passing to remind the world who he was, an innocent humanitarian.

© hannah kozak
King of Pop – from Romania

Why did the media begin a witch hunt against Michael as soon as he started breaking every musical record? First of all, Michael was the archetypal misunderstood artist, committed to his art and his creative vision even though he was being judged.

© hannah kozak
Banner from Queenie, Jessica and May – Hong Kong

Did you know that Michael Jackson was personally responsible for cutting the number of starving people on this planet in half back in the 1990’s? The media didn’t report that.

Michael Jackson was the personification of love.  What do we do with someone whose heart is that big?

Tall Poppy Syndrome is “a social phenomenon in which people of genuine merit are resented, attacked, cut down or criticized because their talents or achievements elevate them above or distinguish them from their peers.” That is what happened to Michael Jackson the moment he started to break every music record ever made. A simple walk through Twitter for example, will  show example after example of people who never even knew him or read anything valuable about him trashing him. Hence, my belief of “tell me what you think of Michael Jackson and I will tell you who you are”. Are you judgmental? Accepting of someone who did not fit in any of the neat little boxes that society loves to place on people? Do you see his giant, loving heart that gave to strangers and visited sick and dying children before and after his concerts? A man who would donate millions of dollars from touring to various children’s causes? Is that what you see?  Or do you believe the lies that the media feeds you?

A Jewish proverb says, Do not be wise in words, be wise in deeds.Michael Jackson was wise in deeds.  Other-centered does not even come close to describing his character.  Listed in the 2000 edition of the Guinness Book of World Records for “Most Charities Supported by a Pop Star”, he supported 39 charities and gave away $500 million in his lifetime.  Even in his death his earnings are still going to charity, as specified in his will.

© hannah kozak
Marcela – Argentina

As I walk around Forest Lawn Glendale, I focus on the love that I see for Michael Jackson and I feel my heart chakra stirring. I see handmade cards so intricate, delicate and beautiful that my heart is moved to tears. I have been in actual relationships and not had such cards made for me.

Here is Robyn Starkland who tirelessly organizes One Rose for Michael Jackson, year after year. This year, there are 8,047 roses purchased by fans around the globe. On June 26, the roses are donated to various charities around Los Angeles.

© hannah kozak
Robyn Starkland – Organizer of One Rose for Michael Jackson

I met Sarah, who flew 5 hours to Auckland and 12 hours to Los Angeles, from South Australia. This was her first visit to Forest Lawn. She said when Michael died “I was overwhelmed with tears and I didn’t know why. I had dreams where he smiled, picked me up and spun me around.

© hannah kozak
Sarah – South Australia

Every year I see artwork by an artist named Siren. This year I actually met and spoke to her. Siren is from Canada and did not start painting until years after Michael died. Her drawing began two years after Michael passed but she did not paint until 2014. She said “I credit Michael with all of it, all my creativity. That’s my connection to him, the relationship, my spirituality.”

© hannah kozak
Paintings by Siren from Canada.

Here are Rieko Ishii, Miyuki Amano, Yoko Abe and Yuki Otsuki, who came together from Japan. They brought this glorious angel winged, red rose tribute for Michael.

© hannah kozak
Left to right: Rieko Ishii, Miyuki Amano, Yoko Abe, Yuki Otsuki from Japan with their winged angel rose arrangement.

Here are Queenie Las, May Cheng and Jessica Kwok from Hong Kong. They layed out pictures for hours on Saturday but everything was gone on Sunday.

Yasuyo Kaneko was sitting with an umbrella and her 2 little MJ dolls, complete with miniature flowers. I found a framed photo I loved, which turned out to be hand made by her.

People like Yasuyo are why I come to Forest Lawn Glendale every years on the anniversary of MJ’s passing.

Yasuyo is kind, gentle, soft-spoke and other centered. She created a delicate wooden frame with MJ’s favorite flowers, and was part of the team that arranged the giant arrangement of red roses, and angel wings in gold.

© hannah kozak
i love the details of the miniature flowers on this hand made frame by Yasuyo Kaneko from Yokohama, Japan.

© hannah kozak
Yasuyo Kaneko – Yokohama, Japan

© hannah kozak
Queenie Lau, May Cheng, Jessica Kwok from Hong Kong.


Michael Jackson didn’t just love his own children: he loved all children.  Perhaps that’s why he was judged so harshly by people who did not know him.  In the end, it’s not just his music, dancing and videos that bring people from all corners of the world to Forest Lawn Glendale to deliver their sweet, homemade gifts. It’s because Michael Jackson was the personification of love and what we need now, more than ever, is love.

© hannah kozak
I love this delicate, hand made doll from one of the Japanese fans!

 © hannah kozak
Painting by Siren – Self Portrait

© hannah kozak
I love the simplicity of the hands in glitter.

© hannah kozak
Arrangement from fans in Iran.

© hannah kozak
Letter from fan in Iran

© hannah kozak
Banner from fans in Ireland

© hannah kozak
Letter from fan in China – page 2

© hannah kozak
Letter from fan in China

© hannah kozak
Messages of Love

© hannah kozak
Musical symbol arrangement

© hannah kozak
We Love You, Michael arrangement.

© hannah kozak
Emone Tsang from Hong Kong

@ hannah kozak
Miranda – Hong Kong

© hannah kozak
Hong Kong banner

© hannah kozak
Eliza and Pat

© hannah kozak
May Cheng – Hong Kong

Sandra Klein: An Artist with Heart

Sandra Klein: An Artist with Heart

Meeting Sandra Klein in an Aline Smithson class was a gift. Sandra was doing intricate hand embroidered stitching on her photography and I was deeply moved and touched by the detail in her art. Her photographs are poems, and her self portraits are layered with her beautiful heart. She adds text that resonates for her and explores loss, aging and family. Goethe said we see in the world what we carry in our heart and Sandra finds beauty in every corner of her world and her heart. Sandra is also an expert printmaker, with a BFA in printmaking.

Sandra Klein is in a group show running January 11 – April 2, 2015 at the American Jewish University called Wisdom:The Tree of Life.


Etz Chaim, The Tree of Life is referred to throughout the Torah and is central to Jewish thought, wisdom and teaching. The tree of life is a symbol of knowledge, strength and identity, is in fact, found throughout all spiritual communities. It is often used as a reoccurring theme in poems, songs and visual art both historically and through to present day. The exhibition, Wisdom, The Tree of Life, explores the significance of the tree through the work of four Southern California based artists: Isaac Brnjegard-Bialik, Sandra Klein, Maddy Le Mel and Karen V. Woo.

Sandra Klein-Whisper
Sandra Klein –
Archival pigment print

Sandra Klein:  Tea Garden Archival pigment print 2014
Sandra Klein:
Tea Garden
Archival pigment print

Sandra Klein:  Shimmer Archival Pigment Print 2014
Sandra Klein:
Archival Pigment Print

Sandra Klein:  Green Island Archival Pigment Print 2014
Sandra Klein:
Green Island
Archival Pigment Print

Sandra Klein: Early Spring Archival Pigment Print 2014
Sandra Klein:
Early Spring
Archival Pigment Print

Sandra Klein: Snake Tree Archival Pigment Print 2014
Sandra Klein:
Snake Tree
Archival Pigment Print

Sandra Klein: The Calling Archival pigment print 2014
Sandra Klein:
The Calling
Archival pigment print

Sandra Klein Wisdom: The Tree of Life
Sandra Klein
Wisdom: The Tree of Life

Here is Sandra Klein and another photographer and friend Susan Swihart. Susan is part of a collective in Los Angeles known as The Verge. Susan is an observer, a caring mother of three, a committed artist who finds time to create personal observations and was recently featured on Lenscratch:


Susan Swihart, Sandra Klein
Susan Swihart, Sandra Klein

Sandra Klein, a Jewish soul sister, who, like all of us, is in search of herself. Sandra doesn’t claim to have the answers to life, which makes her all the more lovely to be near. Sandra seems to embody what Goethe wrote about: “If you can imagine it, you can create it.”

Sandra Klein
Sandra Klein

Sandra Klein
Sandra Klein

Sandra Klein: An Artist with Heart

Goethe quote
Goethe quote

5th Edition of the Julia Margaret Cameron Award – Female Photographer of the Year -Nudes

5th Edition of the Julia Margaret Cameron Award – Female Photographer of the Year, Hannah Kozak

I have been given the humbling honor and exciting news that I have been chosen as the recipient of the Female Photographer of the Year for the 5th Edition of the Julia Margaret Cameron Award for nudes. This is an international award sponsored by the Worldwide Photography Gala Awards. Five of my photographs from my Pain and Loneliness series were chosen to be on exhibition at the 3rd International Biennial of Fine Art and Documentary Photography. Show to open on September 18th – November 9th, 2014 at the Municipal Museum of Malaga, Spain; the home city of Picasso.

3rd Biennial Invitation
3rd Biennial Invitation

Julia Margaret Cameron was one of the greatest portraitists in the history of photography. She received her first camera as a gift from her only daughter, one of her six children and began making photos when she was forty-eight years old. Her photos combined an unorthodox technique, a deeply spiritual sensibility and a Pre-Raphaelite-inflected aesthetic.”From the first moment I handled my lens with a tender ardour,” she wrote, “and it has become to me as a living thing, with voice and memory and creative vigour.” Julia Margaret Cameron was self-assured in her art, she didn’t waiver even when she was condemned by some of her contemporaries for not following rules, even when her photographs were not universally admired, especially by fellow photographers. Cameron dismissed the condemnation of the photographic establishment. She is proof that it is never too late to find a passion, pursue it without fear and not concentrate on what others think about your art. I love how she purposely choose soft focus and long exposures that allowed the subjects’ slight movement to register in her pictures, truly giving the photos more breath, more life. She also loved literature and poetry.

My father, who survived the Holocaust by not following rules and getting in line with all the other camp inmates who walked down a road and were machine gunned down, gave me his Hawkeye Brownie camera when I was ten years old. I discovered one of my greatest passions and have always believed rules were made to be broken especially in art. These particular images are from my Pain and Loneliness series. If you’d like to see more of this series, please see this link.

Pain and Loneliness

© hannah kozak

© hannah kozak

© hannah kozak

© hannah kozak

© hannah kozak

Here is the announcement of the 1st, second and third prize winners in the Nude category:


5th Edition of the Julia Margaret Cameron Award – Female Photographer of the Year, Hannah Kozak

Photography: analog vs digital – I want my Tri-X please

A camera was an instrument where I would load a roll of film. I loved watching the film wind advance. I was just learning about lighting 40 years ago. As I’d compose I’d set the shutter speed and f-stop, focus and I’d click my shutter at the exact moment my intuition said to.  There was no firing off of 10 digital images to have to sort through later. I made one photo. I savored the slowing down of life’s gentle moments.  I loved the sound of my finger pressing on the shutter button. I loved the excitement of waiting to get the film developed, or a proof sheet if I was shooting black and white. Lot of loves in this paragraph. That’s because I love photography.

Now, a camera is no longer a camera.  Cameras capture video, sound, even GPS coordinates along with more metadata that you could ever possibly need or care about. As we’ve seen the changes in photography take us from analog to digital, this physical medium has changed. I turned digital in 2004 only because I was working on a movie and that demanded digital images. I feel that I’m almost a victim of the digital age which is probably why my obsession with buying photography books has doubled recently. I know books are going to be relics someday. I have returned to film because I want something tangible not an image stored in The Cloud.

I am saddened that the film industry is in its final throes and can only hope that Kodak will continue to produce my favorite film of all time; Tri-X. I love the speed, latitude and sharpness and don’t want to be alive to find out Kodak will no longer produce this film.

I’ve heard that Kodak was blowing up their own buildings years ago.  Since 2003, Eastman Kodak has closed 130 plants and 130 laboratories. I know we’re not supposed to be attached to anything and that change is inevitable.

I’ve been thinking about how as a photographer I would make my pictures and have them printed on paper or film and now it’s all about data stored in The Cloud. As part of my reflection, I have returned to shooting film. If photography is about capturing time and space, how will this change in viewing photography on a whole? I used to call myself a photographer. Now I’m a “multi media artist.”  I have learned how to create movies with voice over, music, images in Final Cut Pro X. I could never quite wrap my arms around Final Cut Pro 7.  I’ve learned various software like Blurb and A & I, to self publish my own photography books. With my two original passions being books and photography, this is perhaps the greatest part of the technological advances we’ve made. Creating my own photography books has kept me up endless nights.

On a recent trip to Las Vegas to visit my father, I had my trusty, old film camera with me. I decided to go with Ilford Delta 3200 because I wanted the intentional grain and the exposure latitude is tremendous. It’s actual ASA rating is 1000 but I pushed to 3200 intentionally.  I smile when people talk about image noise, the digital equivalent of film grain for analogue cameras. I love the old-fashioned, grainy look of early film. Bring on the noise.

I fell in love with this little puppies face as I stopped at a favorite spot on that long, desert road Highway 15 so I stuck my hand in the puppies mouth. The owner noticing my camera, quickly figured out I was a photographer or maybe it was my Michael Jackson tshirt, and asked me to pay him for making this photo.

Roadside puppy by hannah kozak

The clouds didn’t have the nerve to ask though. I always loved backlight but there is something magical about shooting right into the sun.

Clouds en route to Las Vegas by hannah kozak

In October 1840, Hippolyte Bayard made a portrait of himself in his famous “Self Portrait as a Drowned Man”.  This is a landmark image not only because he’s pointing the camera at himself but also because it’s an imaginary situation. It’s no mystery why photographers like Pedro Meyer, Felix Nadar, Francesca Woodman, Diane Arbus, Vivian Maier, all loved self portraiture. I truly believe when I turn the camera on myself, there are no masks, nothing to hold back.

Self portrait One by hannah kozak

Self portrait two by hannah kozak

Self portrait three by hannah kozak

“Make haste,

Time flies,

Rome perished,

So wilt thou.”

18th Century stone column

Elisabeth Sunday’s Grace

For several months I have been looking forward to seeing Elisabeth Sunday’s photographs which were recently published by Nazraeli Press in a special edition book entitled, Grace. It contains forty-five duotone plates in a limited edition of one thousand in the first print run with an illuminating essay by Deborah Willis.

Elisabeth Sunday, Emerge, Tuareg Woman, the Sahara Desert, Mali, 2007

Sunday’s passion for Africa has been a twenty-six year fascination with her rich and varied subjects all photographed using a curved, flexible mirror that she herself designed. She says she loves the people she photographs because they are “free, expressive, beautiful and willing.”

In her blog, she writes about the importance of her mirrors. After one cracked, she had another made. “The muse is tuned and waiting for me to engage it and bring out the images, calling them forward.” For Sunday, the mirrors, her passion and the stories her grandfather told her of Africa, all came together to create her muse. Her grandfather, Paul Bough Travis, was a Cleveland School artist who traveled to Africa. In 1982, she began having endless dreams about Africa which began her travels and thus her experiments with the mirror photography.

Elisabeth said “Everywhere I go, I go twice. Kenya, Mali, Ghana, Zaire (now Democratic Republic of Congo) Sungal, Ethiopia. I wanted to go to the place where people continue to live with the rhythms and cycles of nature. You find the most traditional lives in Africa. Those ways are vanishing from all over the planet. For somebody interested in the origins of those people and spirit, you find it in Africa.” I was mesmerized by her enthusiasm and fascination for the people she photographs.

With so many digital photographers who don’t understand the merits of film, Elisabeth’s words are simple and profound: “Film is what I know and I do it well. I like the results I get from film. I see no need to change it.”

Elisabeth, like most caring photographers, is obsessed by light. “I came from a family of three generations of artists so I was exposed to composition, design early. My father was a stain glass window designer.”

As I made my way to Peter Fetterman’s Gallery at Bergamot Station Arts Center, I saw a magnificent purple, orange and pink Los Angeles sunset.

I stayed up all night captivated by Grace. It is a sumptuous, oversized (14″ x 17″) format on uncoated paper and bound in Japanese cloth.  Her publisher used private reserve paper and special ink. Sunday’s solitary travels took her from the primeval forests of the Congo Basin to the vast stretches of the Sahara Desert.  Whether it be the hunter-gatherers in the forest or the nomadic tribes of the desert, Elisabeth’s soulful images have been her muse for twenty six years.

Elisabeth Sunday, Truth, 2010

Paul Strand said that your photography is a record of your living, for anyone who truly sees. Because of the unique way Sunday photographs, a layer is revealed that we don’t ordinarily see with straight photography. She reaches in and photographs the essence of a person. Elisabeth exemplifies a wise woman whose art comes from the deepest part of her soul. She’s created many transcendental moments of peace for herself and for the people who allow her to photograph them.

Henri Cartier-Bresson said photographers must respect the atmosphere that surrounds the human being. I believe that the synergy you get from your subjects has a lot to do with the photographer’s values.  It’s apparent Elisabeth respects the people and their habitat. As she reveals the depths of her being, we are given the gift of her heart with timeless, honest photography. Honesty and passion are Sunday’s métier.

Elisabeth Sunday – Distance

Elisabeth Sunday – Grace

Elisabeth Sunday – Conversation

Elisabeth Sunday – Lifeline

Elisabeth Sunday, Anointed, Akan Fisherman, The Gold Coast, Ghana, 2010

Elisabeth Sunday, Grace at Peter Fetterman Gallery, Santa Monica, California – photos courtesy of Peter Fetterman Gallery.
“Where the spirit does not work with the hand there is no art.” –Leonardo da Vinci
“Mirror photography is much more than photographing a reflection, it produces a visual alchemy that combines the physical world with that of the great mystery. Photographing with mirrors allows me to see the world in a different light and capture some element that remains hidden in straight photography. The use of elongation in indigenous and western art has long been an archetype for the unconscious. Following in this tradition, I use my mirror to shine into the internal deep spaces where we universally connect to something greater.” –Elisabeth Sunday

Bergamot Station Arts Center

Bergamot Station arts center; a train station converted into an art gallery hot spot was teeming with people for the fifteenth year anniversary as the 30+ galleries coordinated their new shows to open. The galleries are clustered together so it’s easy to hop from one to the next. Welcome to the LA art scene. It’s easy to hit culture overload with all the artists featured. Burgeoning artists throughout as well as some classics.  I choose a few gems from the eclectic choices. Picasso said “Every child is an artist. The problem is how to remain an artist once he grows up”.

My first stop was to visit Christy Rogers at the James Gray Studio.  Here is Christy in front of some of her photographs of the human body that she creates with light, water and movement. I love Christy’s work. There is a deep sensitivity combined with a haunting, compelling visual.

Ron L. Zheng’s art form is called poetography. He combines poetry with photography by shooting black and white film and digitally transferring onto canvas.

Michael Sagato’s nude. His bio says he has a sometimes distorted view of human psychology, relationships and himself. Welcome! He uses old masters techniques but has a current look to his work.

La Dolce Vita, 1950-1660: Stars and Celebrities in the Italian Fifties

Cary Grant after receiving the David de Donatello for Best Foreign Actor for North by Northwest, sitting next to Sophia Loren and Carlo Ponti. The press was always intrigued by the relationship of Sophia and Ponti. It wasn’t traditional because of their age difference. It seemed they were together for love; what a concept.

Mark Ryden’s trio entitled Blood, Sweat and Tears is an absolute favorite. Ryden’s work is haunting, disturbing, whimsical. He is one of the most celebrated artists of the Pop Surrealism movement. BTW, Ryden painted the cover of Michael Jackson’s Dangerous album which is regarded as one of the most intricate album covers along with Sgt. Peppers Lonely Hearts Club Band.  Apparently it took him six months to complete. Michael had a fascination with the circus and B.T. Barnum. You can see  Barnum’s image on the cover. But I digress.

Some more of Ryden’s work:

At the William Turner Gallery: Curtis Ripley’s Chinese Nocture.


At the Latin America Masters :  Cuban painter Jose Bedia’s Nos Nkunia. Bedia is known for combining fine arts with the vernacular language of folklore. There is a complexity to his work.

Mother’s Day

Mother’s Day has never been easy for me. I can’t imagine it was less difficult for my mother. For decades it was a reminder of not having a mother in the way that I would have liked. A mom to make lunches, help me pick out school clothes and tuck me into bed. All the Hallmark cards were obviously written by someone who had a mother growing up. “Thanks Mom for being there”. “I can’t imagine a better mother than you”. I stopped looking through the cards. There wasn’t one that said “I love you even though you had to leave and I understand that now as an adult”.

When I was a child my mother abandoned my family to have an affair. The man she left us for turned out to be violent; he beat her so badly that she suffered permanent brain damage and had to be moved into an assisted living facility where she still lives today. Of her five children, only my younger sister has visited her regularly over the years.

I have early, fond memories of my mom as a beautiful, passionate, vivacious, and fiery, Guatemalan Sophia Loren. But since she left us, I have had tremendous feelings of abandonment and rage towards her.  Her actions led me to judge her as impetuous, selfish, reckless,and a negligent mother.  I resented what she did to herself and her family.  I carried so much anger, yet whenever I saw her, I was overcome with pity and sadness.  Just looking at her gnarled hand from the brain damage brought forth more emotion than I could bear.  For these reasons, I have virtually ignored my mother to try and distance myself from my own pain.

I have been pushing down my feelings about my mother for decades. In graduate school I began to dissolve the judgments I held against my mother with the work I did with a healer. Last year I did something different. I began to explore and photograph my mother for the first time with my camera. This is what I do with my feelings now. On this road to acceptance, I can experience my raw emotions through the safe distance of a camera lens.

Annie Leibowitz’s advice to young photographers is to “start with friends and family. The people who will put up with you. Stay close to home. Discover what it means to be close to a subject.” Photographer Steve McCurry said “If you want to be a photographer, first leave home.” When I started taking photos as a little girl, I stuck close to friends and family. At twenty I hit the road, moving to Israel and was happiest when I was taking photos in another country.  I’m back to photographing what is close to home; my mother, father and even myself.