the museum of americana

a literary review

LA Ghost Wheels

Allison Strauss

digital photographs (dimensions not applicable) Series 2014-present

2 Peter and Patricia's driveway, Allison Strauss

3 405 Impala, Allison Strauss

4 Los Feliz Hotel, Allison Strauss

5 Car Wash, Allison Strauss

8 Deathwish, Allison Strauss

9 Ratchero, Allison Strauss

10 Jensen's, Allison Strauss

 

Begun in 2014 with over 300 photographs to date, L.A. Ghost Wheels is an “I Spy” game of vintage cars on the streets of Los Angeles. It wasn’t exactly healthy for Los Angeles to become defined by car culture in the mid-twentieth century, but it has left us with a fleet of unique classic vehicles still out and about as the city is redefined in the twenty-first century, this time by gentrification and its attendant homogenization. In this context, vintage cars emerge as colorful old-timers, the embodiments of their (original) owners–classic Hollywood stars, zoot suited Pachucos, drag racers, surfers, rockers… I photograph the occasional cherry showstopper, but mostly more low-key vehicles and downright beaters that no one else has reason to stop for. I’m just glad to see them hanging in there in this increasingly less livable city, making the streets, ironically, more human.

A panel of respected local photographers–Jerry DeWilde, Catherine McGann, and Ara Oshagan–selected the first photo submitted here (“Fine”) as one of four professional category winners in a 2018 competition and exhibition held by California Assemblymember Laura Friedman. (The annual “Gallery 43” invites residents of assembly district 43 to submit photographs taken in the district, part of greater Los Angeles.) The photograph hung in Friedman’s office for the year.

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AllisonAllison Strauss is an artist and writer in her hometown of Los Angeles. Her work has recently appeared with Artillery, L.A. Photo Curator, Arc Gallery in San Francisco, and L.A.’s Secret Land artist residency. She is currently writing a compendium of influential women in the history of Los Angeles.

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