Not many take the time to recognize. It sounds so simple, yet in Los Angeles the act of noticing is anything but assured. How many times have you walked by the same person standing on the same corner practicing their craft and stopped to bear witness? The woman searching for the best angle to precisely slice a piece of pastor sweating its weight in seasoning off the rack; the floral artist arranging flowers of different hues in the back of his truck; the fade artisan reimagining the kitchen, one head at a time. There is dynamic beauty all around. But it hides in the oppressive shadows of context, shaped by social, economic, political forces.
How to properly remove the blinders? A starting point is sustained looking. Issue 2 is titled “L.A. — We. See. You!” It offers up, to quote the late critic John Berger, various ways of seeing Los Angeles for what it is. The stories, art, subjects, style contained in these pages — online and in print — are an effort to hold the gaze. In the latest installment of Los Intelligentsia, E. Tammy Kim talks to poet Sesshu Foster and visual artist Arturo Romo about the long history of resistance in East L.A. Ismail Muhammad revisits the brilliance of Noah Purifoy, the artist who cast a light on the discarded from south of the 10 to the desert. Dave Schilling pays homage to the barons of bootleg sports merch, who for years have been reminding us who truly owns culture. Julissa James traces the rise of the cobija jackets — yes, those cobijas from the swap meet — and their appeal as luxury gear.
Issue 2 is also an exercise in mimesis. This magazine reflects the wave that the creative community of L.A. is on. We’ve brought in some help from local stalwarts: Tom Tuong from Tom’s One Hour Photo Studio & Lab, contemporary artist Kenturah Davis, author Jade Chang. As we said in Issue 1, we task ourselves with reflecting the city of Los Angeles in all of its multifaceted brilliance. Let them create for you “a space of opening,” as Davis puts it.
Pick your vantage point — find a perch on the top deck of your favorite parking garage; have a seat next to the hoop courts at Pan Pacific Park; post up on the Blue Line bench — and enjoy your viewing experience. There’s more than enough to look at. See the full package here.
Ian F. Blair