Thomas Alleman: The Nature of the Beast: Flora
Los Angeles photographer Thomas Alleman has a legacy of looking at Los Angeles with the unique perspective of a visual hunter. As he traverses the city on foot or by car, his projects reflect the visual connections to it’s history of Noir and movie making, but he also investigates the ubiquitous visual assaults of advertising, architecture, and the land itself. His new series, The Nature of the Beast: FLORA, explores the idea that we live in a false environment with landscape that is non-native, filled with species that are invasive and damaging resulting in a terrain that has a mind of it’s own. His compositions and use of flash present an off-kilter, mess of a marriage of flora, architecture, and humanity.
The Nature of the Beast
Living On The Land In Los Angeles, Part One: FLORA
The great city of Los Angeles sprawls at the northern edges of its namesake basin, which itself is bordered by the Pacific Ocean south and west, with mountains to the north and desert to the east. The climate is famously Mediterranean: bright, hot, and arid. All such are perfect ingredients for an environment that welcomes the wildflowers that bloom in spring, and the spectacular seasonal trees and shrubs that are abundant, sometimes riotous, on the urban landscape.
Always, the desert underneath asserts itself: bubbles of desiccated earth and harsh foliage break through the cracks and seams in the city’s built environment, where a common sight is a wall of stratified hardpan, a cartoon cliff, looming above a strip mall, sloughing roots and pebbles into the parking lot.
Besides misplaced palms and insurgent cactus, this portfolio features bougainvillea and other brilliant desert flowers in recent bloom throughout the city, where they cling, unbidden and often unwanted, to fences, walls, telephone poles, and hillsides in neighborhoods of every kind.
These photographs are part of a larger body of work, which explores Los Angeles’ relationship with the mass of land on which it sits. – Thomas Alleman
Thomas Alleman was born and raised in Detroit, where his father was a traveling salesman and his mother was a ceramic artist. He graduated from Michigan State University with a degree in English Literature.
During a fifteen-year newspaper career, Tom was a frequent winner of distinctions from the National Press Photographer’s Association, as well as being named California Newspaper Photographer of the Year in 1995 and Los Angeles Newspaper Photographer of the Year in 1996.
As a magazine freelancer, Tom’s pictures have been published regularly in Time, People, Business Week, Barrons, Smithsonian and National Geographic Traveler, and have also appeared in US News & World Report, Brandweek, Sunset, Harper’s and Travel Holiday. Tom has shot covers for Chief Executive, People, Priority, Acoustic Guitar, Private Clubs, Time for Kids, Diverse and Library Journal.
Tom exhibited “Social Studies”, a series of street photographs, widely in Southern California. “Sunshine & Noir”, a book-length collection of black-and-white urban landscapes made in the neighborhoods of Los Angeles, had it’s solo debut at the Afterimage Gallery in Dallas in 2006. Subsequent solo exhibitions include: the Robin Rice Gallery in New York in 2008 and 2013; the Blue Sky Gallery in Portland, OR in 2009 and 2015; the Xianshwan Photo Festival in Inner Mongolia, China, in 2010; and the Duncan Miller Gallery in Los Angeles, February 2013. “The American Apparel” debuted at the Redline Arts Center in Denver in 2015. Finally: Fifty-three of Tom’s photographs of gay San Francisco, shot between 1985 and 1988, debuted at the Jewett Gallery in San Francisco in December, 2012, under the title, “Dancing in the Dragon’s Jaws”.
The workshops Tom teaches at the Los Angeles Center of Photography include “The Photographer’s Eye” and “Photographing in the Social Landscape.”
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