A photography exhibit titled "Central Avenue: A Community Album," attracted more than 400 people to its opening reception at its pop-up location on Central Avenue in South L.A.
Large projector screens displayed slideshows of 200 photos taken between 1926 and 2012. Some were collected from residents and neighborhood organizations, others were taken by professional photographer Sam Comen who also organized the event. In preparation, Comen spent about five weeks working to capture the neighborhood as it exists today.
“What we wanted to do, and what my goal is, was to change the perceptions people have of this area," Lynda Wilson, a co-organizer of the exhibition, told OnCentral. "It’s not a poor community, it’s a vibrant community. We’re still surviving and thriving."
Most pictures captured instances of everyday life; from birthdays to dinners, barber shops and local schools. Even OnCentral's favorite 105-year-old man, Poppa Si, makes an appearance in a few photos.
There is an "Analog Twitter Station" where attendees can use a typewriter to write to families and friends, and souvenir postcards made of selected photos from the show.
Comen said that opening night was packed, and that they expect at least a few hundred more visitors throughout the week. They received a wave of people last Sunday who were participating in CicLAvia, the cycling event that takes over 10 miles of city streets.
Comen recalled that Vivian Bowers, another event co-organizer, said it was one of the biggest event turnouts she's seen in her almost 60 years on Central Avenue.
Bowers told OnCentral at the event: “I really hope that people from our area, as well as from the surrounding areas, realize the rich culture and history we have here in South L.A. and that this is a viable place to do business and that this is a wonderful place to live."
She added, "We need to remove that stigma that South L.A. is not a place to go.”
The exhibit at the corner of Central Avenue and Adams Boulevard will remain open through Saturday, April 21. The space is open from 10 a.m. to 6 p.m.