As the clock’s hands inched closer to 7 p.m. on Friday evening, photographer Cynthia Alarcon’s eyes darted around the Burbank Creative Arts Center giving everything a final visual nod of approval.
In just moments the doors of the gallery would open to unveil her “One Woman’s Journey” exhibit that photographically documents her travels and experiences over the past two decades.
The reception, staged to celebrate the opening of Alarcon’s retrospective, was not just a beginning, but also a culmination of a 20-year journey and a yearlong period of reflection.
“It was a little over a year ago that I began to think about what I wanted to say with this exhibit,” the Glendale native said. “I finally made the decision that I wanted to use photographs that I have taken over the past 20 years of my life to express the thoughts and feelings that I experienced during that time.”
As is the case with any life, Alarcon’s journey presents an ebb and flow of happiness, joy, wonder, confusion, sadness and despair. It is a celebration of joys as simple as the first glimmer of a rising sun, a bird in flight and the sparkle of pebbles resting on the shore.
It is a tribute to gratefulness for friends, mentors and the freedom of our nation. It is a revelation of how we suffer a loneliness that feels like an empty pond when a certain dream dies, and how we are consumed with grief when we lose something or someone we have dearly loved.
Alarcon was the recipient of a grant from the California Council for the Humanities to participate in a statewide photo study of the lives of individuals and families involved in the internment of Japanese-Americans during World War II.
She served as a cultural arts commissioner in the city of San Fernando, is the manager of production planning for Warner Home Video and is the sister of Los Angeles City Councilman Richard Alarcon.
During the reception she was joined by her brother, other family members, friends and co-workers who were moved by the 65 displayed images that documented the simplicities and complexities of life.
“I love her photos that capture a person’s essence and feelings without showing their face,” said Brad Berlin, who was accompanied by Sandra Poland. “It has a powerful impact on you.”
While most of Alarcon’s images were taken in California, the exhibit also includes photographs that honor her Mexican heritage.
“The history behind some of these photos is very interesting,” said graphic artist Pete Graziano. “It is a wonderful thing that Cynthia has preserved this history.”
Among those attending the reception were Raul and Colleen Jimenez, Lilly Bradley, Gonzalo and Anna Peres, and Steve Santillan, a digital background artist for The Walt Disney Co. Alarcon was also supported by her Warner Bros. co-workers including Maggie Burns, Pam Wyatt, Gail Peconi, Lindsay Johnson and Trini Araiza.
Alarcon’s one-woman show will be on exhibit at the Creative Arts Center in George Izay Park through Sept. 27. The gallery is open from 9 a.m. to 8 p.m. Mondays through Thursdays, 9 a.m. to 4 p.m. Fridays, and varying hours Saturdays.