Photos and story by J. Raymond Mireles
Having lived in the Logan Heights area of San Diego for the past couple of years, I've come to know firsthand the friendly, colorful and racially diverse mix of people and culture that resides here. Despite the fact that it's located just a few blocks up from the ever-expanding East Village and adjacent to trendy Golden Hill , this hidden gem of a neighborhood is completely overlooked by people outside the area.
To remedy this situation, I decided to share the area with the world through my project "Neighbors," a series of portraits of people who live, work and regularly visit the area around my home.
As with much of my personal work, my goal with this series is to honor my subjects and bring out that spark of underlying humanity to which we all can relate and connect. The photos, which I printed in large-scale (nearly four feet by five feet), now hang as an exhibit on the outside of my centrally located property so that my subjects, their friends and other inhabitants of the neighborhood can see themselves presented larger than life.
Instead of showing the prints in some far off gallery where they'd never be witnessed by locals, many of whom never set foot in galleries or museums, these photos are on display where they can be seen on a daily basis. It's art documenting life and becoming a part of it.
My other goal in exhibiting this work is to bring people from outside the neighborhood into the area. Eventually, I intend to have my work displayed on multiple buildings so that viewers can walk or bike along the Imperial Avenue corridor to enjoy the images.
This project is just the start. I recently traveled across much of the country with CULTURUNNERS (culturunners.com), an arts group from the UK, in an RV with other artists from Europe and the Middle East. During the trip, I photographed people in communities from Brooklyn to Ohio to the inner city of Detroit. I'll combine these images and other images from my future U.S. travels with images from an upcoming trip to the Middle East.
"Neighbors" is on public display at 2741 Imperial Avenue, in Logan Heights. The public is invited to attend the opening event (Saturday, October 10, beginning at 4:00 p.m.) to see the images, mingle with the subjects portrayed in them, and meet San Diego neighbors of different social backgrounds and ethnicities.