I have to admit: Until last night my only exposure to the City of San Pedro came from a reference in a Commander Cody (and His Lost Planet Airmen) song published back in ancient times. The town’s come up in conversation between Mitzi and me since we’ve been scheduled off and on since February to go on a whale watching trip that launches from the harbor there. I guess I knew vaguely that San Pedro’s the sort of place that Jimmy Buffett would have, back in the day, referred to as a Pirate Town (Arrrrgggghhh), but that’s it.
Then came these photo walks. The previous post was about a walk I tagged onto in San Francisco mid-April and last weekend I participated in a Drink and Click (TM) walk around Old Downtown Los Angeles. These things are fun. And they are wonderful photog mixers. The photography community on Google + has embraced the concept full force.
Last night was a variation on that theme: The First Thursday Art Walk in Old Town San Pedro. And it was really a blast!
Unless you’ve lived on another planet for the past decade or so you know that these types of events have become regular affairs usually underwritten by the local Chamber for boosting interest and commercial return in the center city. There are First Fridays and Second Tuesdays and Fourth Wednesdays and so on in almost every town in the country. And though they’re not specifically designed to focus on the artist community, they usually do. Certainly that’s so when they’re “Art Walks”. And they are excellent excuses for doing photography.
Despite being aware of this trend and for that matter even having arranged participation at the one in Greensboro, NC for a local photography group a couple of years (and a couple of lifetimes) past, I had never personally attended one – of any type. So I got through two firsts last night.
Well, really three firsts. Since I knew that most of my shooting would be in low light I equipped the camera with my 50 mm f/1.4 prime lens and committed to using it exclusively. I’d never done that before. (Thank you Dave Powell.) In fact I don’t use this lens very often, even though it’s the fastest one I own. It worked wonderfully – when I did. Funny how that is. Since I had no personal experience, it’s hard for me to assess how well this event stacked up in comparison to other of its ilk, but I have a reasonably good idea the effort that goes into pulling it off. Impressive!
There are art studios of various size and description everywhere within this roughly 3 square block area of Old Downtown San Pedro, with a few theaters and clubs scattered in their midst for good measure.
Last night food trucks ringed the place – a SoCal institution I’ve come to learn – and taken as a whole it had much a carnival atmosphere.
The studio artists and owners were warm and welcoming and many of them had wine, cheese, cookies and the like awaiting our arrival. And they all had smiles. How they do it I’m not sure. Hundreds if not thousands of lookers wander through these places tediously asking the same questions couched in different accents and perhaps one in a thousand of them buy anything. The business of art at this level is fun for the lookers and exceedingly annoying for the artists. But they abide. I have to admire that.
For me it seemed a constant struggle between looking for a good shot – oh come on! Sorting through the tsunami of good shots available – or getting completely immersed in the scene around me. Mitzi kept me moving. That helped.
I believe we spent the most amount of time at a place called The Loft at 4th and Mesa. It’s a four-story building devoted entirely to artists from Redondo Beach. They produce work in almost every medium imaginable. Truth is one could probably spend the entire evening in this one spot. I could have spent much more time with Carol Hungerford. Didn’t, but it was tempting.
This is one of my favorite pieces from The Loft and it’s followed by one of my favorite shots on the walk.
All told this ran for three hours and we capped it off with dinner at Neil’s Pasta and Seafood Grill (recommended). AND, one of the artists tipped us that on every Third Thursday on Main Street in Huntington Beach a similar event takes place.
Huntington Beach is yet another place I’ve wanted to get to. I was there only once, back in the 70’s, having been guided by a California Girl I met on a business trip. She drove a red Alfa Romeo Spyder, the sun shone in her exotic blue eyes and the wind made a magical streamer of her long blonde hair. Elton John was on the radio with Bennie and the Jets. Just one of those scenes that finds a comfortable spot in your head and, in my case. pops up anytime either Huntington Beach or Bennie and her electric boots and mohair suit are mentioned. They’ve probably changed Huntington a bit since then. I’m sure I’ll adjust.
If you’re so inclined, you can take in all the photos at richardharrison.smugmug.com
Thanks for dropping in! Come back again soon.
Many of the folk who read this blog and who I also know personally tend to send me comments via email rather than directly on the blog. Why? I have no idea. But this morning I got a comment from Mo a piece of which was historical – she grew up in Newport – and got permission to share it with you all. It added to my appreciation and understanding of the area; maybe it will add to yours.
” When I lived out there we called San Pedro just ‘Pedro” with a long E. It used to be a real junk heap. Like Garden Grove, which we called ‘Garbage Grove’. Time seems to take care of a lot of things. Huntington Beach was the poor cousin of Newport Beach. We, of course, avoided that like the plague. Waves were much better (& more dangerous, an obvious draw) at The Wedge. All of your travels & pix bring back so many memories.”