Gallery 169 is pleased to present "Neon Noir," a collection of images by Los Angeles photographer and historian Tom Zimmerman.

"Neon Noir" is part historical document, part moody, atmospheric urban pictorial. But most of all, it is a character study of modern day Los Angeles. Showcasing the City of Angels at night, "Neon Noir" profiles the area's neon signs in their street settings, from the deepest corners of Downtown LA to the tourist mecca of the Santa Monica Pier and beyond. Tom Zimmerman's portrait of Los Angeles captures the vintage to the modern, the sophisticated to the seedy, with equal savvy and reverence for these varied aspects of the city, and how they combine to form the essential personality and visage of Los Angeles.

Tom Zimmerman is a native of Los Angeles whose photographs can be found in the permanent collections of the Library of Congress, the National Trust for Historic Preservation, and the California State Library, to name a few. He has taken historic recordation photos of the Ambassador Hotel, Olympic Swim Stadium, Tom Gilmore's Old Bank District in Los Angeles, Santa Fe Repair Yards in San Bernardino, the last orange packing plant in Irvine, and hundreds of others. He is the author of several books, including Paradise Promoted: The Booster Campaign that Created Los Angeles 1870-1930 and Downtown in Detail: Close-up on the Historic Buildings of Downtown Los Angeles. Both titles are published by Angel City Press.


Artist's Statement-"Neon Noir"

"'Neon Noir.' That complete inability to know what lies just beneath the vibrant, obvious exterior in the dark of Los Angeles. Endless nighttime boulevards. Street lights stretching to infinity. Streams of light flowing from the cars that conquered the city. Lights in high rises and neon signs dot the darkness. All right there on the shiny surface.

Who knows what's really going on. The whole city has become Chinatown, Jake. The home of both the easy, casual life in the best climate in the United States as well as the reinvented personality and the last desperate chance. Is that bar with the colorful neon sign full of young lovers brimming with plans and hope or the frenzied loner out of excuses

It's a whole new century. But the noir sensibility of the middle of the last century has taken root. The old broken neon signs hanging on their closed buildings remind us that everything is transitional. The new and old signs that are still lit scream out excitement with their colorful demand for recognition. But what are you being drawn to really? There's the rub. You want to believe that glowing exterior will deliver on all its promises. But come on. It's the 21stcentury. No one believes anything is as it seems.

Meanwhile the cars, the endless cars, stream on by. Lights shine in the buildings. Advertising signs glow their invitation and promise. The nighttime city surface is never all that dark. The lingering darkness is all under the surface. Waiting."

-Tom Zimmerman