If You Build It, They Will Come

The Annenberg Space for Photography showcases established and emerging artists. It opened its door on 09/09/09 in Century Park in Los Angeles, California. I had been anxiously awaiting an opportunity to visit the cultural center for some time and was finally provided that opportunity a couple of weeks ago:

The photography space building snuggles amongst busy corporate buildings on Avenue of the Stars, where men and women in stylish business suits float on escalators and stride through well-polished concrete floors. Glass walls permit the sun to pour into the Space for Photography building effortlessly.

As I walk up to the reception desk, I am greeted by two young and cheerful young ladies. They seem happy to be here; so do I. On display, they enthusiastically inform, are the photographs of two grand artists: Neil Leifer and Walter Iooss.

Neil Leifer has been a professional photographer for most of his life; he started in his teenage years. His work has appeared in major publications, such as the Saturday Evening Post, LIFE, Time Magazine, Look, Newsweek, and Sports Illustrated. He has published fifteen books and has produced and directed numerous films. Amongst his most unforgettable photos are those of Muhammad Ali.

Walter Ioos started his career as a photographer at age 19. A passionate of sports and athletes, he used them as subjects for his art. At age twenty, he was contributing to Sports Illustrated. Later, he was recruited by Fujifilm and commissioned by Camel cigarettes to photograph advertising campaigns. His talent and skills have presented us with images of Art Mahaffey, Michael Jordan, Muhammad Ali, Brett Favre, Joe Montana and Wayne Gretzky.

The interior of the Space is meant to remind visitors of “the inner-workings and aesthetics of cameras and other photographic equipment.” It also consists of a workshop area, digital gallery, corridor gallery, print gallery, reading room, and café. The design of the Space is simple, yet smart; it permits the art to shine and speak on its own behalf. Yet despite its impressive contents, the Space is also limited. An hour and a half is sufficient to see it all.

On my departure, I smile to the young lady at the front desk. “Would you like something from our bookstore?” she asks and points to a stack of books sitting on top of a feeble wooden table. “Our bookstore is still in development,” she clarifies. I am glad to know there is still more Space to come.