It was an interesting scene at Ed Templeton's latest exhibition at Roberts & Tilton. The peacoat-wearing, beard-sporting, artsy crowd that usually frequents the Culver City art scene was replaced by a the more youthful and diverse crowd of skateboarders and punk rockers. Ripped jeans and band shirts were everywhere. One person even wore a California flag draped around his shoulders. Outside, a pile of bikes lay near the entrance, clearly the more popular form of transportation and very fitting for the beach themed exhibit. It was a full house, and the gallery was so packed it was difficult to even get around or take pictures.
The show, Memory Foam, presents us with a collection of photographs from the downtown and main street areas of Huntington Beach, where the artists has lived for many years. Templeton says that this exhibition takes a look at the “urban sprawl” and the “planned community” of Huntington Beach, but that is nowhere to be found in the photos. Most of the photos are portraits, and even the ones that don't quite qualify as “portraits” all have people in them, making it clear that Templeton is truly out to capture the people of Huntington Beach and not the city itself. And he does a good job of it. Without knowing who any of these people are, I am still aware that these are the locals and not the tourists. The photos are somewhere between posed and candid, and reminiscent of the banal photography we all take on our trips to the beach. The models, staring off into space, into the camera, and into each others eyes, all seem to be full of the same youthful energy the beach experience gives us.
While gallery floor was full of people, the gallery walls were full of photos. With over 50 works, the exhibition certainly gave the viewer plenty to look at. In fact, Templeton shot so much that many additional photos were included as part of a slide show in a separate room. The majority of the photos were in black and wide, which made the few color prints really stand out. There is something very nostalgic about the images as well. Although the pictures were taken recently, they very well could have been taken in 1985. There aren't many clues as to the modern day setting, and much of the clothing worn by the models depicts 80's punk and heavy metal. The black and white can be misleading, and even one of the color photographs looks more like out of the 70's than from 2012. Perhaps it is this subculture's uncanny ability to transcend time is the “memory foam” that Templeton is alluding to.
Words and images by Noé Gaytán