TWENTY YEARS AGO, when Carolyn Kozo Cole, then-head of the Los Angeles Public Library’s Photo Collection, opened a folder marked Watts hoping to find images of daily life not the charred remnants post-1965’s unrest.
Instead there was only a single photo — of the Pacific Electric Train Station. There were no houses or gardens. No birthday parties or backyard cookouts. Nothing that spoke tho how people lived in the community over the last few decades. At that moment, Cole made a decision that there had to be a way to collect those photos that lived in residents’ family albums or on their mantlepieces. Twenty years and 14 collecting days later, the Shades of L.A. project ultimately amassed 10,000 photos drawn from various ethnic communities across the Greater Los Angeles Basin.
Yesterday was a reunion of sorts and a grateful nod to the historians and librarians who made it happen — Carolyn Kozo Cole and Kathy Kobayashi. My piece about the project is up here at KCET | Artbound. Below are some moments from yesterday’s celebration
Carolyn Kozo Cole, Gary Leonard, photographer and Kathy Kobayashi