George Mann's Lost Los Angeles
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LAVA – The Los Angeles Visionaries Association and the On Bunker Hill time travel blog in association with the Los Angeles Public Library Photo Collection and Photo Friends present George Mann’s Lost Los Angeles, a celebration of a newly-discovered treasure trove of mid-century photographs captured by the one-time Vaudeville dance sensation, and projected for the first time tonight in stunning 3-D Kodachrome. Join us as historians Richard Schave (Esotouric) and Nathan Marsak (On Bunker Hill) contextualize the places, 3-D experts Susan Pinsky and David Starkman (Reel 3-D) demystify the format’s history and technology, and Bunker Hill native son Gordon Pattison takes us on a virtual tour of his beloved neighborhood.
The event is free but space is limited. Arrive early to ensure a seat. 3-D glasses will be provided. For parking rates and lot locations, see http://www.lapl.org/central/parking.html
George Mann just might be the most interesting Los Angeles photographer you’ve never heard of. His color scenes of the lost Victorian neighborhood of Bunker Hill, taken just before it was demolished fifty years ago in a misguided urban renewal project, have transformed our understanding of downtown through their presentation on the On Bunker Hill history blog and a recent exhibition at Gary Leonard’s Take My Picture gallery.
Now LAVA- The Los Angeles Visionaries Association, the On Bunker Hill time travel blog and the Los Angeles Public Library Photo Collection and Photo Friends are delighted to announce an evening celebrating the photographic work of the late George Mann (1905-1977) as it was meant to be seen: in jaw-dropping Kodachrome 3-D. George Mann’s rediscovered color images of mid-century Los Angeles are astonishing, and a must see for anyone who loves the city and wants to know it better. The event celebrates the recent donation by the George Mann Archive of a portfolio of Bunker Hill prints to the Los Angeles Public Library.
The free presentation of George Mann’s Lost Los Angeles takes place in the Mark Taper Auditorium of the Central Library on Wednesday, November 14, from 6-7:45pm. Space is limited, and early arrival advised.
ABOUT THE PROGRAM:
George Mann’s Lost Los Angeles is hosted by LAVA co-founder Richard Schave and based around the remarkable 3-D projections of Mann’s vintage Kodachrome 3-D slide photographs, overseen by Susan Pinsky & David Starkman (Reel 3-D). They will give an introduction to the technical aspects of the 3-D photography and projection process, share the curious story of how they purchased most of George Mann’s custom motorized 3-D viewing machines after the photographer’s 1977 death, show off a vintage King Vitamin cereal box (for which Mann was the model) and explain their current work with the George Mann Archives to digitize and improve the appearance of Mann’s vintage 3-D transparencies before projecting them using twin projectors aimed at a silver screen for a result that is brighter, clearer and altogether more magical than was possible when George Mann shot his photos in the 1950s and 1960s for display in standalone viewing devices. Attendees will be captivated as they see a lost Los Angeles live again in three dimensions. 3-D glasses will be provided.
Accompanying the projected images, historian Nathan Marsak (On Bunker Hill, Los Angeles Neon) will provide lively and informed narration on the images of Los Angeles in the 1950s and 1960s, and Bunker Hill native son Gordon Pattison will share personal memories of his beloved old neighborhood as it is recreated, in vivid Kodachrome 3-D, four decades after it was demolished by bulldozers.
Join us for an evening celebrating the rediscovery of one of Los Angeles’ most interesting photographers, and the extraordinary places that captivated him, as George Mann’s 3-D photographs are projected to the public for the very first time.
ABOUT THE PRESENTERS:
SUSAN PINSKY & DAVID STARKMAN (Reel 3-D) discovered the excitement of 3-D photography in 1976 and have been enjoying every aspect of it ever since. They published a 3-D hobbyist newsletter “Reel 3-D News” from 1978 to 1980. Requests from subscribers unable to find necessary supplies for 3-D photography led to the production of their “3-D Catalog,” which later evolved into a business of selling 3-D supplies and literature called Reel 3-D Enterprises, Inc. Reel 3-D operated full-time from 1984 to 2004. Since then Reel 3-D has been selling wholesale to businesses around the world. 3-D information and references to 3-D supplies sources may still be found on their web site www.reel3d.com. They are active 3-D photographers. They are both Associates of the Photographic Society of America (APSA). Both are past presidents of the Stereo Club of Southern California (www.la3dlclub.com). Both have been on the board of directors of the Photographic Society of America, the Western Photographic Collectors Association, the Stereo Club of Southern California, the National Stereoscopic Association, and the International Stereoscopic Union. They have been an official Stereo Pair since they were married in 1977 (dimensionally documented in View-Master and Stereo Realist formats to prove it!), and continue to enjoy pursuing and sharing this wonderful extra dimensional hobby. In addition to making shows with their own 3-D photos they have worked on many shows which are compilations of recent or vintage images by both known and anonymous stereographers, and putting them into a 3-D projectable format for large audience enjoyment.
NATHAN MARSAK, GORDON PATTISON & RICHARD SCHAVE are contributors to On Bunker Hill (www.onbunkerhill.org), part of the 1947project series of time travel blogs. NATHAN MARSAK is a Los Angeles historian, preservation advocate, and is perpetually restoring his Highland Park home. He is the author of Los Angeles Neon. His forthcoming projects include a book on the American mortuary, and something involving all those postcards he’s collected. GORDON PATTISON is a third generation resident of the lost downtown neighborhood of Bunker Hill. His family’s iconic mansions, The Salt Box and The Castle, were the last two Victorian properties left standing after the Community Redevelopment Agency seized the hill and evicted 9000 people in the largest eminent domain action in American history. The Salt Box and The Castle were recognized as landmarks and moved to Heritage Square, where they were promptly consumed in a fire set by vagrants. With his wife Kim Cooper, RICHARD SCHAVE runs the eclectic tour company Esotouric, offering bus adventures into the secret heart of Los Angeles that celebrate writers (Raymond Chandler, James M. Cain, Charles Bukowski, John Fante), architecture, true crime and Southland spirituality. He is host of the quarterly LAVA literary Salon at Musso & Frank, leader of LAVA’s Flaneur & The City series of free downtown walking tours, and a stalwart preservation advocate.
ABOUT BUNKER HILL, the ON BUNKER HILL blog and GEORGE MANN:
Bunker Hill in the 1870s was early Los Angeles’ most distinguished address, an enclave of grand Victorians, gorgeous gardens and clear-skied views out to Catalina and beyond. By the 1910s the wealthy had moved on, and the Hill’s mansions became rooming houses. Up on the Hill, life moved at a different pace. Writers Raymond Chandler, John Fante and Charles Bukowski came and were captivated by the place. Painters Leo Politi, Kay Martin and Millard Sheets made its rotting hotels and sad-eyed residents the subject of their art. And down at City Hall, planners schemed about how Bunker Hill could be declared a slum, its old houses pulled down, its people moved along, leaving a blank slate where skyscrapers could grow. By 1970, Bunker Hill was a field of dirt. In 2008, the time travel bloggers of 1947project.com turned their attention to Bunker Hill. Over a year, the blog grew into a house-by-house survey of the great old downtown residential neighborhood that was demolished to create the high rise district that shares its name, but none of its charms. The blog’s contributors, including authors, historians, librarians and tour guides, delved deep into historic archives to uncover the most fascinating tales of more than a century of life on Bunker Hill. 1947project is the brainchild of Kim Cooper, pop music historian (“Bubblegum Music is the Naked Truth”), tour guide (Esotouric bus adventures) and preservation activist (Save the 76 Ball). She was joined ON BUNKER HILL by author Nathan Marsak, LAPL history librarian Mary McCoy, Esotouric’s Joan Renner, LAPL Acting Senior Librarian – Photo Collection Christina Rice, Esotouric’s Richard Schave and author John Toomey.
George Mann’s Los Angeles photos were discovered in his archives by daughter-in-law Dianne Woods in 2010. While researching the images, she found the On Bunker Hill blog, and offered to let the blog feature Mann’s Bunker Hill images, online and in archival prints for sale. Since then, Mann’s family has also shared with On Bunker Hill some of the short films he made featuring fellow Vaudevillians like The Three Stooges and W.C. Fields, and dozens of photos of landmark Los Angeles restaurants.
Born in Santa Monica in 1905, by his early 20s George Mann was a vaudeville star as the hilariously taller half of the comedy dance team Barto & Mann. Of their east coast debut, “Zit’s Theatrical Newspaper” raved “Ten minutes before they went on at the Palace last Monday afternoon nobody thought very much about Barto & Mann; ten minutes after they came off stage, the whole Broadway world was talking about them.” As Vaudeville faded, Barto & Mann joined the Broadway cast of “Hellzapoppin” with featured billing from 1938 through 1942. The team split up in December 1943.
In his post-performance life, George Mann turned his imagination to entrepreneurial enterprise and professional photography, which brought him to Bunker Hill. In the late 1950s, when the neighborhood’s days were known to be numbered, he arrived atop the peak with his camera to document some representative scenes, returning in November 1962 for additional shots. These long forgotten color images of old Bunker Hill were originally displayed in 3-D viewers of Mann’s own design, which were leased to various Los Angeles restaurants, bars and doctor’s offices. Mann would swap out the photo selection every two weeks, so if these evocative scenes of Bunker Hill weren’t available, one might peep at Calico Ghost Town, Catalina Island, Descanso Gardens, Disneyland, Knott’s Berry Farm, Pacific Ocean Park, Watts Towers or Palm Springs.
In his Bunker Hill set, created to distract anxious patients and hungry tourists, George Mann captured a seldom seen side of this lost Los Angeles neighborhood: the gracious avenues and genteel decay, the old people, their cats and their gardens, abandoned newspapers, vacant lots, the shadows and the sunlight. We are in his debt.
To see George Mann’s rediscovered Los Angeles photographs and learn about his fascinating career that took him and his diminutive sidekick Dewey Barto (real-life pop of TV’s “Rhoda’s” mom Nancy Walker) from the stages of west coast vaudeville to the Great White Way, visit all the On Bunker Hill blog’s George Mann pages at http://onbunkerhill.org/taxonomy/term/507
See Barto & Mann dancing in “Broadway Through A Keyhole” (1933)
Note: we regret that Dianne Woods, previously announced as a speaker, will not be able to join us tonight.