Monday, March 16, 2009

glendale real estate

from his glendale series, 1990-1993. photograph by wayzata camerone.

Directly inspired by Nothin' Says Somethin's featuring of an image by Wayzata Camerone in his recent post on L.A. punksters, The Brainiacs. Camerone was vocalist and saxophonist for the band from 1979 to 1981, in addition to teaching a class in photography at Art Center in Pasadena in the 90's.

Some of his arresting imagery immediately makes me think of his more famous New York contemporary, Richard Kern, yet there is something decidedly more film noir than theatrical in content which manifests itself the closer one examines his photographs; a hardboiled eroticism perfectly at home in the seedier Californian haunts once home to would-be Hollywood screenwriters and miscreants. There is little of the deliberate staginess which separates fact from imitation in Kern's own work. In his "Glendale" series in particular, shot on a
Yashica 2 ¼ format camera and printed at home in a darkroom in Glendale, one can almost smell and taste a pervading desperation. The kind of raw and gritty reportage one is more used to confronting in photojournalism and street photography.

This is an artist I hitherto knew absolutely nothing about and am glad to have been introduced to. Somewhat belatedly. The following blog is "administered by executors of the estate"; I can find no mention of his demise, or the circumstances which fueled it. Beyond those references on Nothin' Says Somethin' and his link to that site, there is sadly an absence of information on Camerone elsewhere on the net.

Given the quality of those images I have seen, that situation deserves to be addressed and rectified.

If Lydia Lunch or Sonic Youth spring to mind at the mere mention of Richard Kern, what captures or illustrates the darker tones of Camerone's minor expositions ? Beyond the music of The Brainiacs themselves, or those nocturnal after hours visitors to the club he ran in tandem ?

The selection I finally settled on is at odds with the era Wayzata Camerone occupied in time. But then again, so are his images. The vulnerable jazz of journeyman trumpeter and sometime vocalist, Chet Baker, seems to suit the monochromatic flavour rather well.
The composition was written for Baker by Elvis Costello. He had no real expectation that Chet would ultimately record it, sweet as nicotine and laced with weary resignation.

CHET BAKER: ALMOST BLUE from "Bespoke Songs, Lost dogs, Detours & Rendezvous" LP (Rhino) 1987 (US)



Unknown said...

Thanks the Chet, ib! I think the music fits the mood of the photos perfectly.
I, too, was impressed with that post over at NSS. And impressed with the photos Wayzata Camerone, also... For whatever reason, I had to get offline while looking that stuff over, and never got back to it. Thanks for the re-mind, then...

ib said...

Thanks, Matt; my own post here is little more than an adjunct to Nate's excellent original piece.

If anyone out there is able to fill in any of the blanks regarding Camerone's involvement in photography, specifically dates and the nature of his death, please get in touch. There are too many remaining blanks, I feel.

As interesting as are many of the photographs featured on the site run by the executors of his estate, many of the scans posted are of too a low resolution and can not do full justice to the originals.

Thanks, too, Matt for the link on Perceptions. Delusions to the gallery stuff on Charles Burns. I hadn't seen many of those images previously.

mdusham said...

As someone who appreciates the photography of Wayzata Camerone, we wanted to inform you that new negatives have been printed & are on the site now:

Thanks for your interest & help us spread the word.

India Jennings

ib said...

Thanks, India. Good work.