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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.