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Steve Schapiro, Martin Luther King Jr. (with Flag), Selma March, 1965 © Steve Schapiro & Fahey/Klein Gallery
Steve Schapiro, Martin Luther King Jr. (with Flag), Selma March, 1965 © Steve Schapiro & Fahey/Klein Gallery

It’s a simple idea really, “21st century art presented in extraordinary architectural settings” but it takes vision and labor to make it happen. Lisa and Mark Ames are a couple who love art and architecture and found a way to put them together in a wonderful pairing. Starting with a gallery in the ornate lobby of an early Cadillac dealer in San Francisco they have now added two sites in Los Angeles and are in the process of opening yet another in Glen Ellen California.

The galleries are beautiful because the buildings are beautiful.  They represent another time in California history, and their ornate splendor makes a fine backdrop for the modern work being shown in them.  At the Fine Arts Building in downtown Los Angeles the lobby reaches almost three stories high.  Finished in paneled woods with carved figures looking down and a lovely fountain that graces the space,d you approach the photographs like treasures being presented and maybe you spend an extra moment contemplating the images or the person who made them.

The show currently running is Angels on Main Street by long time Los Angeles photographer Gary Leonard.  “When I was seven or eight” Gary Leonard says “my father gave me my first camera, but it wasn’t till a few years later that I knew I would be a photographer.  I had gone to Dodger Day to take pictures of the ball players.  Riding home in the car I suddenly stuck the camera out the window and snapped a picture…and at that moment I had a transformative understanding…I knew I would be a photographer”.   After forty years taking pictures of Los Angeles that range from the early days of the punk scene to the long term capture of building sites under construction there is no question he is that.

Leonard’s latest exhibition, Angels on Main St. springs from his desire to make street portraits of hundreds of friends and acquaintances in front of angel wings painted on a dilapidated downtown building by artist Colette Miller.  The angelic backdrop offered anyone a chance to stand for a moment as an angel.  The response was a stream of pictures capturing people from the homeless to the city’s mayor taking their time for just a minute to imagine themselves with wings.
The images are on display in the lobby of the Fine Arts Building in downtown LA.  Because they are in the lobby they can be seen at any time, day or night.  A perfect late evening surprise for friends who think that art sleeps in Los Angeles.

Story, gallery pictures and Gary Leonard portrait copyright Andy Romanoff

Gary Leonard
Angels on Main St
till July 8th 2014
Art meets Architecture
The Fine Arts Gallery of the Fine Art building
811 West 7th Street 
Los Angeles CA 90017

Gary Leonard –
Art Meets Architecture
Andy Romanoff –

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Gary Leonard

During the past thirty years Gary Leonard has photographed the streets and neighborhoods of Los Angeles recording the famous and not so famous as they navigate the currents of life in Southern California. Professionally Leonard makes his li...