Los Angeles is beautiful — there, I've stirred up a controversy already. But photographer Noé Montes has already out done me by making that claim not just in words but in images, and a series of striking ones, no less, with that very title.
Much of the shooting for it, Montes did through the window of an LAPD helicopter. As he told me in an interview on my podcast Notebook on Cities and Culture, he found out soon after takeoff that the pilot didn't have any particular flight plan. Instead — as in the dreams of everyone fascinated with Los Angeles — he simple asked, "So, where to?"
You may remember Montes' name from when Xeni posted his Occupy Los Angeles portraits back in the Occupy heyday. His photographic output has only increased in variety and impressiveness in the years since; have a scroll through his portfolio to see the people, places, and things he's captured more recently in Los Angeles and elsewhere.
Los Angeles may not conform to many traditional ideas of urban aesthetics, but as Montes' view of it proves, none can deny its intense visual interest. So why, I asked him straight-up in our interview, do so many people think of it as ugly?
"Well," he replied, "because it's kind of ugly!" And so I quote the sage words of graphic designer Tibor Kalman: "I have nothing against beauty, but it isn't very interesting." Unless, of course, it's beauty Los Angeles-style.
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