Fresh Focus on the Image of Women

A series of 46 black-and-white photographs depicting women working and socializing in Downtown Los Angeles are featured in an exhibit at the Spring Street Gallery.

Most of Tom Zimmerman's images, created between 1993 and 1995, show the women in landmark buildings or businesses. The photographer, an aficionado of Downtown and its architecture, said he began the project after meeting businesswomen while on assignment for the YMCA and Girl Scouts. They provided him phone numbers of friends and acquaintances.

"Most of them were eager to be part of something that's celebrating women," Zimmerman said.

Zimmerman's portraits include such well-known women as Linda Griego, president of the riot recovery agency RLA, at her restaurant, Engine Co. No. 28. Another depicts Sharon Papa, police chief of the Metropolitan Transportation Authority, in uniform at Clifton's Cafeteria on Broadway.

Some subjects Zimmerman met on the street, such as Rosie, Anna and Monica. They are three tough-looking teen-agers dressed in chola clothing. The girls, in return for copies of the pictures, allowed Zimmerman to photograph them in various Downtown locations.

"Anna, she is 14, will call and harangue me if I don't get the photos to her quick enough," Zimmerman said. "She is no shrinking violet."

Another photo features Claudia Fuentes, 23, on the job as a parking attendant at the Banks-Huntley Building on Spring Street.

"She was taking college classes on the weekend," Zimmerman said. "Every time I saw her, she had her nose in a book as she sat in the parking structure. She said she drifted through high school and really wanted something now."


"Downtown Women: A Photo Essay," Spring Street Gallery, 333 S. Spring St., Los Angeles. Hours: noon to 4 p.m. Through April 4. Information: (213) 626-8787.

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