As part of my LA48 Breathe Project, I had the opportunity to photograph artist Donald Gialanella in Los Angeles. Donald has been in full time pursuit of his art for over 20 years focused on sculpture, using “ innovative techniques, unconventional materials and iconic imagery”. His works have found homes across the country and around the world. Featured in my images are two of his Orb series, currently on display in both Napa and Pasadena, California.
The premise with the Breathe Project sessions is to keep preparation and planning to a minimum and the sessions tend to be shorter. In this particular case we had set an early evening time, sandwiched in between afternoon and late evening sessions. The biggest variable being Los Angeles traffic.
After arriving, a few minutes of conversation and over view tour of his work space, I began to shoot. The goal is first and foremost to capture Donald “doing what he does”. With that in mind it involved working with the Orbs and then a sander and plasma saw for a little drama. Also incorporated were a couple of set ups for an environmental portrait.
Donald also tells a story of his first day as an assistant for the renowned French-American sculptor, Louise Bourgeois…
“After graduation, Louise Bourgeois asked me to be her assistant. I was both thrilled and slightly apprehensive at the prospect of working with her. Always the wry provocateur, she tested my resolve on the first day. Ushering me up a flight of stairs in her Chelsea brownstone, she opened up a closet door and pointed to an inside wall. ‘You will make a portal’, she said and then walked away. On the floor sat a lone pickaxe. I swung it repeatedly into the wall. When she returned a half-hour later and saw the hole I put in her wall, she smiled and said, ‘You break through a wall without knowing what is on the other side?’ ”
I thought it was a rather appropriate point to be made that works well with the atmosphere and goals behind improvisational driven sessions.
In this case I photographed for a mere 30 minutes before moving on to the next session.
For more of Donald Gialanella’s work and his Livesteel Studio, I highly suggest visiting his web site at http://www.donsculpture.com . He has a wide variety of photos, video and articles that tell the story of him and his work.