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Ansel Adams' rare LA photos to be showcased at Downtown gallery

By Hayley Fox
Published: Monday, February 13, 2012, at 10:16AM
via drkrm website

An Ansel Adams photo called “The Pup” taken on Washington Boulevard.

The Spring Street gallery drkrm will host a collection of rare Ansel Adams photos from his time spent as a photojournalist for "Fortune Magazine" in 1940.

Adams was a California-born photographer and environmentalist, best known for his pictures of expansive landscapes and "Western" life. Although many associate Adams' name with images of snow-capped mountain ranges and wooded forests, the upcoming drkrm series will showcase a series of Los Angeles-centric photos.

This is a dramatic departure for Adams and is what makes the exhibit so exciting, said John Huckert of drkrm.

"Here he does something completely different than we've ever seen from him," said Huckert.

Adams' black and white images paint a picture of prewar L.A., from Santa Monica to Downtown. They include iconic scenes of palm tree-lined streets and the bustle of everyday life in the city in 1940.

The drkrm gallery describes what L.A. was like at that time; the city's population was 1.5 million, the cost of gas was 10 cents and a new car would run you all of $700. The U.S. was rearming for WWII and Adams was commissioned by "Fortune" to take photographs for an article about the L.A. aviation industry. He ended up taking more than 200 pictures but only a few appeared in the magazine story published in March 1941.

According to drkrm, Adams rediscovered these photos in the early 1960s at his home in Carmel and donated them to the Los Angeles Public Library. He sent them to the library with a letter that said:

"The weather was bad over a rather long period and none of the pictures were very good... I would imagine that they represent about $100.00 minimum value... At any event, I do not want them back."

Now on display for the first time, the gallery will show silver-gelatin prints made from the original negatives of Adams' photos. They're not printed from a computer but done by hand in the darkroom.

"Just like Ansel would have done them," said Huckert.

The photos are also available for purchase with a portion of the money going towards the L.A. Public Library.

The opening reception is this Saturday from 7 to 10 p.m. but the exhibit will be on display until Mar. 17 as part of the ongoing Pacific Standard Time series. Admission to drkrm is free and open to the public.

drkrm is located at 727 S. Spring Street in Gallery Row Gallery hours are Wed.-Sat. from 12-6 p.m. and Sun. 12-4 p.m.

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