The multimedia exhibit “Homeless in Paradise” opened Nov. 5 at BC Space Gallery in Laguna Beach.
The show was created by Laguna artists Faye Chapman and Tim Carmody, and Los Angeles Times photographer Genaro Molina in recognition of National Hunger and Homelessness Awareness Week in November.
The power of “Homeless in Paradise” is found in its visceral treatment of homelessness in idyllic Southern California. Chapman and Carmody’s portraits capture the vulnerability and resilience of individuals who survive on the streets of Orange County.
The photos are highly defined and textured, so much so that one feels able to almost touch the faces of those who Chapman said “live in the shadows.”
Molina’s stark portraits focus on the chronically homeless in Los Angeles. One particularly compelling photo flash-freezes the raw anguish of a homeless woman in what looks to be mid-scream, but she’s actually singing.
The exhibit also features a video presentation of Genaro’s collaboration with Los Angeles Times reporter Christopher Goffard on the acclaimed “Four Walls and a Bed” and “Skid Row” story series. The Times owns the Coastline Pilot.
“Four Walls and a Bed” chronicles the rescue of “the 50 people deemed most likely to die on the streets” by giving them a room, in return for agreeing to once again interact and live with others. The transition to community comes as no small feat for people who’ve been long estranged and shunned by society.
Laguna Beach poet John Gardiner and singer-songwriter Jason Feddy performed at the exhibit’s public reception, which was attended by about 100 patrons.
Gardiner shared some of his own poetry as well as readings from Charles Dickens, Ogden Nash and John Keats, speaking to the plight of the hungry, homeless and disenfranchised. Feddy’s set included Nick Lowe’s ‘70s ballad, "(What’s So Funny ‘Bout) Peace, Love, and Understanding,” which asks for “light in the darkness of insanity.”
“Homeless in Paradise” brings lucidity to the issue of homelessness through art. It depicts our shared humanity and embodies our ability to diminish the suffering of others. It also reminds us that we have much more in common with the homeless than we might imagine.
The exhibit runs through Dec. 21. BC Space Gallery is at 235 Forest Ave. For more information, visit https://www.bcspace.com.