Road to Nowhere: The photography of Gil Leora | Bleader

Road to Nowhere: The photography of Gil Leora

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Urban American Gothic
There's a difference between tourists and travelers. Tourists skim the surface, lighting upon landmarks and attractions just long enough to snap a photo before moving on. For tourists—noses forever buried in maps, loudly bickering about the most efficient way to get from point A to point B—the meaning seems not to be the journey itself, but the collection of destinations, like notches carved into a bedpost. For travelers, on the other hand, the journey is all that matters. A traveler is less concerned with getting from point A to B than with all the delightfully weird shit that can happen along the way. Because the stuff happening in between A and B is life—life as it is lived in places you do not. And that is what the traveler has come to see.

Gil Leora is a traveler. In the years he worked as a commercial photographer, he was sent all over the country on assignments, shooting for catalogs and scrapbooking magazines—the kind of work that pays the bills and crushes the soul. After punching the proverbial clock, Leora would find solace in exploring his surroundings. Dive bars, thrift shops, street corners—the weird little out-of-the-way spots that make every place what it truly is. And along the way, he photographed everything, not because he aspired to being an artist or a documentarian, but because that's what Leora does. He takes pictures.

Perhaps it's because he set out with no particular intent that Leora captured such brilliant, honest images. As it turns out, he is an artist—a really fucking good one. "In Between Drinks," his inaugural show, will be on exhibit at Firecat Projects through July 22. Culled from seven years of photographs, the images offer a view of the strange little corners of America. The ceiling of a banquet hall in Wisconsin, strewn with paper streamers; a thrift-store mannequin displaying a T-shirt that reads "I Heart Mormon Pussy" on sale for $15 somewhere in Salt Lake. These are the odd, seemingly insignificant details that a tourist would never stop to see, let alone commit to record. But Leora is a traveler, so he's predisposed to noticing them. Fortunately for us, he's also an artist with the skill and empathy to capture images of them along the way.

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