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Phil Stern Showcases Iconic Photography on Gallery Row

By Lauren Mattia
Published: Friday, January 21, 2011, at 10:15AM
Lauren Mattia

Phil Stern's photograph of JFK and first lady Jackie Kennedy Onassis at his inauguration in Washington, D.C.

While the name Phil Stern may not ring a bell for for everyone, the 92 year-old's photography of Hollywood celebrities are some of the most iconic images to date.

To celebrate the 50-year anniversary of the inauguration of late President John F. Kennedy, Phil Stern's first gallery opened on Thursday at the Pacific Electric lofts, showing a collection of rare photos from the history-making event.

McCarson Jones, who helped organized the opening of the Phil Stern Gallery, is not new to the photographer's work. After opening a Stern exhibit in her home city of Durango, Colorado, "Phil's son Peter approached me and asked if I would help him open a gallery and organize a show," Jones said. Her response? "Most definitely."

Stern has an immense body of work from decades of photography all over the world, but Downtown will be the home of his first-ever gallery. "He hasn't shown any serious excitement about it yet," Jones said. "But we can all tell he is."

The gallery's gala event was housed in the Pacific Electric Lofts on Main near 6th street for the opening. The high ceilings lined with cast iron, the brick walls, and the city views made for a unique backdrop for his black and white portraits.

"There are some great galleries right around the corner from here," Jones said, who is new to Downtown." Jones hopes that the opening of Stern's gallery will "contribute to what Downtown LA can be."

Phil Stern's body of work is massive. His award-winning photography of Hollywood stars and his World War II photography while serving as a U.S. Army Ranger in the "Darby's Rangers" are easily recognizable by veteran photographers as well as those who have never laid their hands on a camera. As Frank Sinatra's personal photographer, he was granted full access to document JFK's inauguration.

Also included in the show is a series of photos of musicians and Hollywood stars who attended a gala celebration at a “thank you” party thrown by Sinatra and JFK.

"I think once people realize what he's done, we hope to get that traffic really going," Jones said. "We hope we can help support Downtown in some way."

“Celebrating JFK: A 50-Year Inaugural Anniversary” has since moved to a permanent location and opened to the public on Tuesday.

Phil Stern Gallery / 601 S. Los Angeles Street


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