heARTbeat - Jim Coke Photography Exhibition
MADE by Millworks presents
heARTbeat: California Counterculture 1966-69
Photographs by Jim Coke
Saturday, March 10 until Tuesday, April 2
OPENING EVENT March 10, 7-10pm
(scroll to bottom to see full details about the opening, including list of performers)
Artist's Statement: In 1991, in my hometown of Long Beach, I discovered my unprinted vintage negatives and color transparencies after being piqued by Oliver Stone's movie, The Doors. To my surprise, the notorious rock band had lain in storage untouched since 1967, when I captured them in their prime at LA's first rock music festival two weeks before "Light My Fire" went number one nationally.
Traditional photographs of The Doors and digital variations of my images of Jim Morrison comprise the previously seen half of "heARTbeat". And, in their Long Beach debut, another 25 counterculture subjects have been included during the year of their 50th anniversary, printed digitally on fine art paper. Among the historic figures and events in the cache of 35mm film strips and Kodachrome slides I found were legendary Beat poet Allen Ginsberg, pioneering LA tattoo master Bob Roberts, jazz bassist and UCLA educator Roberto Miranda, world music innovator and classical Indian sitarist Ravi Shankar, each represented in performance.
Whether a person or a place, the subject of a photograph is living in time, and I seek to document their essential moment, bearing witness through the lens as a freelance street photographer, or "camera packing demonstrator," as UPI tagged me. I documented events such as the Monterey Pop Festival, LA's Fantasy Faire music festival, the Human Be-In at Griffith Park, and Vietnam War and social movement protests such as Stop the Draft Week in Oakland, the Century City march against LBJ, and the perpetual campus happenings at UC Berkeley and in San Francisco.
When I first saw the images again, seemingly for the first time, they led me to a personal reawakening that paralleled the controversial Stone film's effect of opening a critical re-examination of the American cultural revolution of the 1960's. As I immersed myself in writing to reveal my buried memories, I worked to avoid the pitfall of retrograde nostalgic irrelevance lurking in the process of revisiting my youth in the counterculture era. I will have succeeded if the viewers of these American pictures feel a living resonance with the current state of the American scene more strongly than a romantic flashback, however pleasant that may feel.
Primarily because my photos emerged from storage at the dawn of the digital technology revolution, my urge to experiment dominated the process of creating a body of work. I learned of a new medium, the giclee, or ink jet print, which was invented by the master printer who worked on my first digital project, the Jim Morrison "Scream Sequence". Change came almost overnight - in the time it took to retouch and compose the 11 images of Morrison, the technology had advanced so much that I had to start over to achieve the available quality. Out of the "Scream Sequence" group of figures, I printed individual images at life size at billboard companies. Eventually, I printed the climactic, screaming figure of Morrison 20 feet long on paper and pasted it up as the mural, "Flying Morrison", still soaring over 4th St. in Long Beach.
Overall, these prints represent the evolution of photography from the darkroom-processed silver prints through several developmental stages of the digital printing process - from the beginning of publicly available services to the ubiquitous high-quality digital media of today. The key to staying current with the changes at every stage of photographic production has been collaboration, and it is with deep gratitude for the generosity of many friends along the way that I dedicate "heARTbeat".
For many years, the key collaborator in my work has been multi-media artist Victor Raphael, whose work combining photography with gold and metal leaf is known internationally. His brilliant surface enhancements of several of my Jim Morrison images are included in "heARTbeat".
Honoring another longtime partnership, in a worldwide debut, I have curated a special selection for a first-ever showing of the documentary political event photography of my UC Berkeley, Nikon F shooting partner, the Long Beach-raised - but Manzanar-born - photographer, Takashi "Tash" Suzuki. Muhammed Ali, Marlon Brando, Black Panthers Kathleen Cleaver and Bobby Seale, are included in his portfolio.
Staying awake and aware of the living arts and working with other artists has been a crucial force in my work. At every turn on this long path, I have been extremely fortunate to have had help from poets and musicians performing for opening events, which for over ten years have included a component of charity to support various local service programs. For this show, sales of the 11"x14" show poster (similar to the event page image), will directly benefit Long Beach/Los Alamitos resident and rock guitar maestro Lanny Cordola's program in Kabul, Afghanistan, where he teaches guitar to child victims of war. Miraculous Love Kids (MLK) / Girl with a Guitar has a growing base of support that we hope to increase with our donations, with your kind help.
OPENING with poetry, music and full bar
on Saturday, March 10th, 7-10pm
Shy But Flyy
Joan Jobe Smith
Michael C Ford
Benefiting MLK - Miraculous Love Kids / Girl with a Guitar,
Lanny Cordola's program for child war victims in Kabul, Afghanistan. Proceeds from sales of show posters ($40) will go
directly to supporting the MLK program.
MADE by Millworks is located at 240 Pine Ave in beautiful downtown Long Beach.
FREE 2 hour parking is available in the City Place parking structure on 3rd street just east of Pine Ave.