GARDENS, GARAGES and GARBAGE CANS
May 17, 2014 - June 8, 2014
Opening reception: Saturday, May 17, 2014 12:00 - 6:00pm
Kathy Sloane is a renowned photographer best known for her brilliant jazz photographs, some of which appear in her book "Keystone Korner: Portrait of a Jazz Club” (Indiana University Press, 2012). Over the past 40 years she has committed herself to photographing the life of the San Francisco Bay Area with an emphasis on its multicultural and multiethnic richness. Her self-assigned task and her work for innumerable non-profits and foundations has been to understand and depict the myriad ways various communities - often voiceless in mainstream media - give meaning and value to all of our lives. Workers, children, immigrants, activists and artists have all collaborated with her to make a photographic mosaic of Bay Area life.
In Gardens, Garages and Garbage Cans, Sloane extends the traditional notion of portraiture to make a different kind of picture in her own neighborhood. She photographs gardens in makeshift pots and containers in front of old victorian buildings and small apartment houses as well as inside auto body garages that proliferate in an area just east of Lake Merritt; a locale known for its vibrant diversity of immigrants and bustling small businesses. Its a neighborhood that on the surface appears shabby, but Sloane with this series of photographs, captures the beauty and spirit of a community. She gives the viewer a glimpse into a world that at first glance is a gritty concrete jungle but whose inhabitants see beauty in the unexpected and banal. In the words of the artist, these are photographs of gardens that proclaim “someone lives here, works there, who loves life and values beauty.”
This exhibition is even more poignant considering the influx of developers and the change that is happening with gentrification in Oakland and other cities across the country. By capturing a moment in time, Sloane is asking us reflect on our own neighborhoods and communities and reconsider questions of beauty, culture and tolerance for other world views that may go against the cookie cutter white picket fence aesthetic of mainstream America.