The Venice Institute of Contemporary Art’s new street photography show is really about community

Brotherhood among skaters, 1983
Photo by Josh ‘Bagel’ Klassman

Three kids sharing a joint, a skateboarder’s graceful shadow, mounted police on Venice Beach, a quiet moment among Occupy Movement demonstrators — it’s not just what’s happening in the frame, but also the perspective the photographer brought to it, and what that says about them.

The chance to see the world through someone else’s eyes is the driving force behind “Out in the Streets,” an exhibit of street photography for which the Venice Institute of Contemporary Art has assembled more than 100 photos by three dozen artists, many of them local.

“Street photography, for me and a lot of other photographers, is a way for us to find our own place in the world,” says institute founder and exhibit curator Yuri Koll. “What you point your camera at and how you decide to frame it — or what you leave out — that helps define you. What’s so interesting about the show is each artist shares their own perspective of what it means to be in a community.”

For Koll, it was realizing he had a unique perspective that got him out of foster homes and into classes at Cal Arts. His exhibit contribution, an old man on the streets of San Francisco, was part of his application packet.

Josh “Bagel” Klassman’s image of young skaters smoking cannabis behind a traffic divider, concealed from the bright expanse of sandy beach behind them, speaks to the tight bonds formed among Venice’s DIY skate culture of the 1970s and ’80s.

The street protest images of Ted Soqui, a veteran Los Angeles news photographer, are more like portraiture, capturing fleeting moments of more personal experiences inside news events that often receive blanket, big-picture coverage. Blink and you might miss them.

— Joe Piasecki

“Out in the Streets” opens with a reception from 7:30 to 10 p.m. on Friday, Sept. 21, and continues through Oct. 21 at Muzeumm, 4817 W. Adams Blvd., in the West Adams Arts District. Visit veniceica.org for more information about the exhibit and related events.

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