Project Author: John Mireles
John's foray into documentary photography began as an outgrowth of his participation in the sport of rock climbing. His first published photos, of urban rock climbers struggling to train far from natural rock, appeared in Rock and Ice Magazine in 1990. Since then, his viewpoint has widened to include the diverse people, places and experiences that make up America and that collectively give rise to Americana. Along the way, his work has been selected to appear in juried competitions such as the Communication Arts Photo Annual and the Art of Photography show.
When he's not driving his road-worn RV across the country, John resides in San Diego.
Having lived in the Logan Heights area of San Diego for the past couple of years, I’ve come to know first hand the friendly, colorful and racially diverse mix of people and culture that resides here. This hidden gem of a neighborhood is completely overlooked by people outside the area despite the fact that it’s just a few blocks up from the ever expanding East Village and adjacent to trendy Golden Hill. To remedy this situation, I decided to share the area with the world through my project “Neighbors,” a series of portraits of people who live, work and regularly visit the area around my home.
As with much of my personal work, my goal with this series is to honor my subjects and bring out that spark of underlying humanity that we can all relate to and connect with. I decided to print the photos huge - nearly four feet by five feet - and exhibit the prints on the outside of my centrally located property so that my subjects, their friends and other inhabitants of the neighborhood could see themselves presented larger than life. Instead of displaying the prints in some far off gallery where they’d never be witnessed by the locals, these photos are on display outside, on the streets where they regularly pass so that they can be seen on a daily basis.
My other goal in exhibiting this work is to bring people from out of the neighborhood into the area. Eventually, I intend to have my work displayed on multiple buildings so that viewers can walk or bike along the Imperial Ave corridor to enjoy the images. For me, the opening event is more than just a party or social hour. It’s an opportunity for people from different social backgrounds and races to meet and mix and understand each other.
This project is just the start. I recently traveled across much of the country with Culture Runners (www.culturunners.com), an arts group from the UK, in an RV with other artists from Europe and the Middle East. During this trip, I photographed people in communities from ranging from Brooklyn to Ohio to the inner city of Detroit. I’ll be combining these images and other images from future US travels with images from an upcoming trip to the Middle East.
The work is on public display at 2747 Imperial Avenue and people are welcome anytime.