Capturing Beauty: The Art and Photography of John Simmons

The Canyon ChronicleBy The Canyon Chronicle      April 2, 2021

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Capturing Beauty: The Art and Photography of John Simmons
PHOTOS BY JOHN SIMMONS Macon, Georgia, 1967. Simmons said shortly after he took this shot, one of the officers pictured knocked him to the ground with a billy club and used a racial slur to tell him to mind his own business. Photo by John Simmons
Continuing the celebration of Black History in America, the Jean Deleage Art Gallery at Josefina López’s CASA 0101 Theater in Boyle Heights, presents a virtual exhibit of the art and photographs of two-time Emmy Award-winning Cinematographer, John Simmons through June 5, “Capturing Beauty: The Art and Photography of John Simmons.” Growing up in Chicago at the height of the Black civil rights movement shaped John Simmons as an artist.Simmons guides online visitors on a virtual tour through “Capturing Beauty,” his multi-layered paper collage cartographies and black-and-white photography images that represent a full spectrum of life, circa 1965–2021. He explains each piece and the context in which it was created.
PHOTOS BY JOHN SIMMONS John Simmons gives virtual tours at the Jean Deleage Art Gallery in Boyle Heights, L.A. Photo by Anaith Indjeian
“I started taking photos at the age of 15,” Simmons says. “In 2016, I came to realize I had hundreds of photos I had taken over the past 55 years, which were first exhibited in 1971 while I was an art student at Fisk University.

“I have been fortunate from my earliest days, that my career has been mentored and shaped by many, including film directors, Carlton Moss and Ousman Sembène, regarded as the father of African Cinema, as well as by photographer, Robert “Bobby” Sengstacke, whose family owned the African American newspaper, The Chicago Daily Defender.

“I have come to learn that the general public’s opinions are influenced by optics and what we see. I still have great curiosity in my heart for what I see through my lens. My photos represent my perspective and are the total sum of who I am at the moments they are taken.
Collage 1—Walk Tall In Spite Of It All. Collage by John Simmons
“A photo needs to have its own soul. It needs to have a ghost in it. It needs to be something you feel and experience. Moving images, still pictures and music create the soundtracks of our lives. They shape our culture and who we are. If you asked me what inspires me to do what I do, I would say, I am in a state of becoming. I’m always approaching new horizons. It’s an endless process, and each day is a new beginning.”

Simmons is one of only five African American cinematographers among 300 members in the American Society of Cinematographers. Simmons is also Vice President of the American Society of Cinematographers, a Governor of Television Academy and Co-Founder and Co-Chairman of the American Society of Cinematographers Vision Committee, whose goal is to give job opportunities to diverse people and be inclusive.
Love On The Bus (1967 Chicago).
Pieces in the exhibit are for sale. For inquiries, please call CASA 0101 Theater at (323) 263-7684, Monday through Friday, 10 a.m.– 4 p.m. The Jean Deleage Art Gallery inside of CASA 0101 Theater, 2102 E. First Street (at St. Louis Street), Los Angeles, CA 90033.

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The Canyon Chronicle
      April 2, 2021

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April 02, 2021

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