Orange Coast College has been accepted for decades as a above centermost for the absorption of photography. This acceptability has been artificial to a cogent amount by the attendance of educator/photographer John Upton, who aboriginal chaired the college’s photography administration in the 1960s. While he age-old from OCC in 1999, his bequest there continues to this day.
This aboriginal anytime abandoned attendant of Upton’s assignment is continued overdue, because his contributions to photography over the years. After belief with Ansel Adams, Minor White, Dorothea Lange and Edward Weston, he created several important accurate series, accustomed a cardinal of awards and will be accustomed this March by the Association for Accurate Education as “Honored Educator.” He is additionally in above collections worldwide, including the Metropolitan Museum of Art.
Upton’s “Right Place, Right Time” exhibition is comprised of 29 of his photos taken over added than 60 years. It additionally contains all-encompassing bank didactics, photos of Upton throughout his career — some with added photographers, including SoCal-based Robert Heinecken — and several copies of the textbook, Photography, which he co-authored and is now in its 12th edition.
While accessory the aperture of this seminal exhibition, the 87-year-old Upton was alert, lucid, agile and captivated to altercate his assignment and multi-faceted life. In an abode to dozens of bounded photographers and added admirers at the show, he talked about his aboriginal series, “Early Work.” These black-and-white gelatin argent prints acknowledge his affection for mid-20th-century formalism, composition, absorption and amusing capacity in photography. The pictures additionally affectation his accomplished use of ablaze and dark, with some of that adverse acceptable created in the darkroom.
John Upton, Boscage Road (courtesy of Orange Coast College)
Upton’s two images from this series, both blue-blooded “Point Lobos Abreast Carmel, CA,” are close-ups of ample rocks and added accustomed debris. By absorption on the accustomed yet abstruse adjustment of these elements, the artisan created beauteous tableaux.
His “Death Valley,” a account of affective beach that additionally displays abysmal afternoon shadows, mimics amative photos of the nude changeable figure. Conversely, his “Nude,” an out-of-focus close-up of a nude female, is added a absorption of changeable attributes than a animal composition.
“Portrait of Robert Macaron,” of a alive man from the 1950s, is ambrosial of 1930s-era photos by his mentors. Macaron, the accountable in Upton’s picture, is dressed in a laborer’s accouterment and displays an acute look; the absolute aftereffect of this account evokes the plight of bodies who formed continued hours to abutment their families.
Years later, Upton catholic abundantly throughout Japan, photographing landscapes, burghal scenes, storefronts, accouchement and teenagers. His eight “Japanalia” blush images from 2000 to 2004 are so abreast in accountable matter, they ability accept been attempt today.
John Upton, Japanalia: Asakusa Window (courtesy of Orange Coast College)
His “Tokyo Teens” portrays a assemblage of changeable teenagers, several antic albino albino beard and cutting “Forever 21” appearance arbitrary clothing. These animated adolescent bodies adverse with the academic and addled attractive Japanese citizens who were photographed during Apple War II. Upton says that these photos call Japan “undergoing amazing amusing and cultural change.”
“Politician and Constituents” depicts full-size cutouts of a commonly dressed Japanese woman, alongside a fashionably dressed man, both adverse a affiche of a animated man active for office. This adverse of the accustomed Japan with abreast association depicts the country during a aeon of amusing and cultural transition.
More awkward is “Pagoda Nara,” illustrating an age-old Japanese temple, nestled amid affluent blooming foliage. With this image, Upton appears to be calling up the country’s ancestry of painting its pastoral landscapes. His sparer “Swimming Shaman in Basin Biwa” is a delicate actor appearance photo of a abandoned swimmer in a anemic chicken and blooming lake.
John Upton, Boscage Road, Bedrock (courtesy of Orange Coast College)
These photos apprehension Upton’s consecutive “Jungle Road” series, with abounding images comprised of close jungles and others of bedrock flows, all attempt in Hawaii from 2005 to 2014. Jack Fulton describes this alternation in the show’s catalog: “This sequence, fabricated on the island of Hawaii, begins in a boscage that we see as a sparkling ball of floral exuberance, catastrophe in a atramentous and white cool of bouncing and bouncing bedrock breeze arrested in time.”
Indeed, these photos, with several capturing the dense, ascendant and abundantly atramentous green, amber and red foliage, are so intricate, the eyewitness ability apperceive them as abundant oil paintings. Conversely, the added attentive bedrock breeze pictures abduction scenarios evocative of ancient, arid landscapes.
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Upton’s best contempo “Petaluma” series, with four photos taken back 2018 abreast his accepted arctic California home, reveals his amaranthine admiration to abide creating while exploring the apple about him. These images, alignment from atramentous and white landscapes to pictures of artery signs and murals, accommodate “Hokusai Found in the Alley,” a affiche of a painting by the eponymous 18th-century Japanese artist. “Petaluma” again reveals the eyes of a accurate artisan who always reinvents himself, while adhering to his constant ethics of adapted agreement and allusive content.
In fact, the accoutrements and array of the accurate art pieces by John Upton in this amazing exhibition are a attestation to the regenerating ability of the artistic spirit.
“Right Place, Right Time” is on appearance through April 4, 2020 at Orange Coast College’s Frank M. Doyle Arts Pavilion; Mon.-Thu., 11 a.m.-5 p.m. and aboriginal Saturdays, noon-4 p.m.: free. orangecoastcollege.edu.
John Upton, Right Place, Right Time, accession appearance (courtesy of Orange Coast College)
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