Locksmith Shadrach

shadrachAlhambra, May 2015 – Film
Shadrach is surrounded by teeth. His modest locksmith business is surrounded by ethnic Chinese businesses – market, restaurants, herbalists – in Alhambra, California off of Valley Boulevard.

The teeth all belong to various keys.

Korra/Last Airbender Tribute show at Gallery Nucleus: Part 2

29Alhambra – The Legend of Korra and The Last Airbender were two cartoon series that touched the lives of many fans. Some were so moved that they camped outside Gallery Nucleus in Alhambra for a chance to meet the show’s creators. …

  • Mattie Stacey drove with a group of friends from Oakland, California to secure her spot outside the gallery.

“I enjoy the universe, it’s a fun way to have a balance of really, heavy issues – they’re going to war, but there’s still a lot of silliness.”

  • Steve Perez wants Korra’s story to continue.

“If I could ask the creators a question – what is the possibility of there being a comic that updates monthly and explores that world?”

  • Lorraine Grate thinks the show’s complexity gives people a chance to redefine what a hero looks like.

“The show was really progressive, and the main character is female. And then she ends up bi-sexual in the end. It shows a lot of people that there are more than just white, male protagonists. It’s a great show and well written.”

  • When asked about the crowds and the fans camping out for the exhibition show creator Michael DiMartino had this to say:

“It’s amazing. I always get a little overwhelmed when I see the crowds. I also feel bad when I hear that people slept over for two nights. But I appreciate their dedication and support. Even one night, even 10 hours is more than I’ve given to my favorite shows. It’s very humbling.”

Part 1 of this post can be found here.


Legend of Korra creators Michael DiMartino, left and Bryan Konietzko.

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Korra/Last Airbender Tribute show at Gallery Nucleus: Part 1


Alhambra – The Avatar tribute exhibition at Gallery Nucleus was a sort of victory lap for show creators Bryan Konietzco and Michael DiMartino. The gallery show marked the 10 year anniversary for Avatar: The Last Airbender, with the spin-off series The Legend of Korra which just ended in December 2014.

Both animated series revolved around a world inspired by Eastern mysticism, fantasy adventure and steam punk vehicles. But the legacy the Nickelodeon series leaves behind is a testament to its engaging characters, complex storylines and a fan base with a voracious appetite for more stories from the world of Avatar.

The actual line to get into the gallery show wrapped around the block and plenty of fans came dressed as their favorite characters from the series. Some fans camped out overnight in costume and make, but you couldn’t tell by the energy people were putting out.


9272330102117In Part 2 some words from the fans, and the show’s creators. Plus more photos of people in cosplay!


cruz alhambraSummer 2013 – Images from University of California Press textbook “Paradise Transplanted: Migration and the Making of California Gardens” by Pierrette Hondagneu-Sotelo. This assignment took me throughout the San Gabriel Valley for a good three weeks, chasing down gardeners. So much so that I was having a knee-jerk reaction when I would see a pickup truck and follow it down side streets in Alhambra, San Gabriel, Arcadia, and Temple City where the homes were large, and somewhat boisterous with their green lawns. It’s a funny juxtaposition with California in the center of this drought and green yards taking on this wasteful, extravagant nature. …

A few times I was asked to leave residences by nosy neighbors. The gardeners were a bit reluctant at first. My Spanish isn’t great and I was asking to not only take their picture, but also to have them sign release forms so their pictures could appear in this book. The ones who did say yes were incredibly accommodating, though most of them wanted to pose or lean on one leg to appear like some type of hero. It’s a grueling job that’s somehow been relegated to a select few to upkeep the California dream of a home with a garden.

gusto alhambra arcadia jardinero

Remember Alhambra

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Alhambra has along its Main Street a gloss, a gleam that is new and fresh. In March the L.A. Conservancy gave Alhambra an F in terms of preservation. Much of the push for new businesses in Alhambra has defeated the purpose for any type of single story buildings along its Main Street. The Diner on Main Street remains, along with a handful of other properties.

Super A Market served the ethnic Latino community along Main Street. A mixed use structure will be going up, with live/work properties. Under my Super A photo is an image of what happened to that piece of Main Street.

There is a mixture of ethnic Chinese, Latino and contemporary influences on the architecture and storefronts. Though what’s winning out remains to be seen. Think vertically in terms of real estate and maximizing space. It’s forward thinking, but it also looks beyond the community currently living there.00000025

works2 elalhambra solissupera Main Street Alhambra alhambra place

Biking and recycling

recycle bikeAlhambra, California – Valley Boulevard is dense with traffic and bicyclists. Most of the population makes do with sidewalks, parking lots or weaving in and out of traffic. Bike lanes would make sense in this predominantly ethnic Chinese community.

Originally appeared at The Alhambra Source.


Chinese New Year – Year of the Ambercrombie


That stare off into the distance. This child is obviously not on board with the traditional garb of Chinese New Year. Mom on the other hand gets to wear her Ambercrombie hoodie. Chinese New Year in Alhambra, California feels like a commercial enterprise, a chance to sell merchandise while honoring tradition.

The embrace of American culture by ethnic Chinese has a tinge of this photo – honor and Ambercrombie. Or red envelopes with gift cards to Best Buy. Or kiosks selling bootleg Disney hats and other merchandise.

Originally these images appeared at The Alhambra Source in 2011

Bicycling down the Valley (Blvd.)

bikingOn film I’m mostly aiming without much consideration for composition. The man smiled at me as he passed. Valley Boulevard has a large ethnic Chinese population who take to the sidewalks on bicycles, disregarding all forms of foot traffic and vehicles exiting parking lots.


Gallery Nucleus – A Saga in the Stars: A Tribute to a Galaxy Far, Far Away


It’s comforting to know that Star Wars still brings out the good in people. Most everyone attending Gallery Nucleus’ “A Saga in the Stars: A Tribute Event to a Galaxy Far, Far Away” show were polite, posed, and not one person asked me why I would ever take their photo. Even the Ewok posed.

GalleryN22See. Ewok. She could just have easily hit me with a stick. Game over. Yes, the Ewoks turned the end of “Return of the Jedi” into a teddy bear show, but that’s OK, because there was that spin-off movie that we all remember.

Gallery Nucleus put up with Sith, Jedi, droids, and a few art lovers. Over 60 artists were featured, along with a remote controlled R2-D2, and plenty of extended universe art, characters and material from novels post-movies.

Think Asajj Ventress and if you know who that is then you’ve probably invested some time in trying to make a lightsaber or attempting to move an object with your mind. It’s cool. We’ve all tried it.

GalleryN2May 4th is synonymous with the force, and even though Star Trek will be all that people will be talking about this summer, the recent purchase of the Star Wars franchise by Disney renews hope for the once grand saga.

“A Saga in the Stars: A Tribute to a Galaxy Far, Far, Away” at Gallery Nucleus 210 E. Main Street Alhambra, CA 91801 through May 26