DPP Home Profiles Patrick Eccelsine: Sunset Blvd.

Friday, April 10, 2009

Patrick Ecclesine: Sunset Blvd.

Los Angeleno Patrick Ecclesine’s work captures the hopes and aspirations of a city built on its dreams


sunsetSunset Boulevard, one of the most famous streets in the world, passes through more than 20 miles of Los Angeles cityscape, touching everything from the barrio to Hollywood to the palatial estates of Pacific Palisades. The new book of portraiture by Patrick Ecclesine, Faces of Sunset Boulevard: A Portrait of Los Angeles, illustrates the extraordinary lives, unparalleled egos and the depth and shallowness of the avenue’s colorful residents as it follows from the heart of the city all the way to the Pacific Ocean. It’s a comprehensive and complicated look through the eyes of one of Hollywood’s own as Ecclesine explores the many facets of a city he so obviously loves.

The book begins with a bold comment on a city that spends most of its time dreaming. On the left page of the opening spread, L.A. Mayor Antonio Villaraigosa stands in front of the cityscape with a snappy suit, a red balloon and a childlike smile. Below his portrait is a quote from the mayor. “This is the city of America’s future,” he says. “You can make it here. You can start from the bottom and go all the way to the top if you work hard enough. This is the city that believes in the impossible dream.”
Los Angeles portraitist Patrick Ecclesine spent more than four years of his life documenting the colorful characters who populate L.A. along its famous Sunset Boulevard. “Historically,” he says, “Sunset is the street that grew up alongside Los Angeles, and throughout the world it’s our most famous street, hands down. When you’re abroad, and you say ‘Sunset Boulevard,’ people get excited. There’s this mystique about it, a mythology. It’s the boulevard of dreams. And what I found as I went along is that’s what this book is basically about.
That’s the metaphor for the book.
In contrast, on the opposing page, there’s another image from an alternate angle of downtown Los Angeles. In front of it, a homeless man pushes an overloaded cart and says, “L.A.’s got too many people, too much traffic, and too many foreigners. I don’t have time for people who’ve got their heads floating around in the clouds, either. I’m a realist and, no, not everyone can make it.” Both subjects speak of the American dream, but each has experienced it differently, and this is the dialogue that Ecclesine chooses to explore with a project that has consumed the photographer’s own hopes and dreams for more than four years.

 

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