On a late afternoon in 1975, a young American photographer named Hugh Holland drove up Laurel Canyon Boulevard in Los Angeles and encountered skateboarders carving up the drainage ditches along the side of the canyon. Southern California was experiencing a major drought. Emptied suburban swimming pools became evaporated playgrounds for kids with wheels—kick-starting an explosive skateboarding scene. "It spread like wildfire all over Southern California," says photographer Hugh Holland. "I know it happened in other parts of the world too, but California felt like the center of it all."
Immediately transfixed by their grace and athleticism, he knew he had found an amazing subject. Although not a skateboarder himself, for the next three years Holland never tired of documenting skateboarders surfing the streets of Los Angeles, parts of the San Fernando Valley, Venice Beach and as far away as San Francisco and Baja California, Mexico.
These black and white photographs are now on view in Silver, Skate, Seventies, an exhibition in Los Angeles, with never-before-exhibited archive, including some of his earliest photographs documenting the rise of the California skateboard revolution in the 1970s. It adds a more raw, spontaneous understanding to Holland’s well-known color photographs of the 1970’s skating scene. Though now he is most closely associated with his later work in color, the artist began his photographic documentation of the skateboard revolution shooting in black and white. Holland shot these negatives while experimenting with new ideas and often for his own enjoyment. These early black and white images were in many ways the genesis for his later color works—providing us with a rare glimpse behind the creative curtain.
Hugh Holland: Silver, Skate, Seventies
December 2, 2017 – January 20, 2018
1050 N Cahuenga Boulevard
Los Angeles, CA 90038