ART : Airport Exhibit Helps Find 'Lost Hollywood'

Mary Helen Berg is a free-lance writer who regularly contributes to The Times Orange County Edition.

John Wayne Airport, unlike its namesake, doesn't usually evoke images of movie-star glamour. But through Aug. 23 travelers can find a trace of cinematic allure there in "Lost Hollywood," an exhibit of 75 black and white photographs from Hollywood's golden years, 1916 to 1933, presented by the airport's arts commission.

The vintage photos in the touring exhibition were collected and published in a book of the same title by Jack Woody, owner of Twelvetrees Press. The exhibit includes portraits of such Hollywood legends as Rudolph Valentino, Mary Pickford, Clark Gable, Jean Harlow, Greta Garbo, Carole Lombard, Douglas Fairbanks Jr. and, of course, John Wayne. They are the works of studio photographers George Hurrell, Roman Freulich, Eugene Robert Richee and others who helped to create the stars' mystique.

Using dramatic shadow and light, these photographers produced shimmering black-and-white or sepia images that transformed publicity stills into art.

Of particular interest in the exhibit are stills from Howard Hughes' 1930 production "Hell's Angels," noted for its extravagant aerial stunts and as the career springboard for Jean Harlow; and photographer Ruth Harriet Louise's two 1926 silhouette portraits of a nude Greta Garbo and monster master Lon Chaney.

Joan Crawford appears most often among the famous mugs in the collection. Crawford's longtime professional collaboration with photographer Hurrell helped create some of Hollywood's greatest glamour portraits, according to exhibit notes.

Two photographs of Crawford from 1933 help reflect the mastery of Hurrell as well as the range of the actress. In the first portrait, Crawford-the-vamp sneers, her finely lit face floating in a pool of black. In the second, Crawford-the-ingenue presents her vulnerable side in a romantic profile.

That's movie magic.

What: "Lost Hollywood," an exhibit of Hollywood star portraits.

When: Through Aug. 23.

Where: John Wayne Airport, on the departure concourse between gates 1 through 4 and gates 12 through 14.

Whereabouts: San Diego (405) Freeway to the MacArthur exit. Follow the signs.

Wherewithal: Free.

Where to Call: (714) 755-6583.

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