By Christopher Harrity
Originally published on Advocate.com January 18 2014 5:00 AM ET
John Arsenault has a Northeastern dialect as thick as Boston cream pie and as delicious. But don't let the dialect confuse you, he is quickly becoming a Los Angeles artist, especially with his growing collection of images of the boys and men from many sections of greater L.A. — West Hollywood, Silver Lake, Echo Park, and who knows, maybe even the San Fernando Valley.
We checked in with John to see what he has been working on since his last portfolio with us in 2011, and he has shared some outtakes from his current project. John answered some questions about the work via email:
Since 2011, update us on some of the more interesting work you have been able to do.
I've always produced work on a consistent basis, but since my move to Los Angeles from New York City (2010), the amount of work I have produced has doubled. I've definitely kept busy. Part of it has been the subject matter — I have some great projects going on. And I love to shoot with natural light. L.A. is sunny year-round. That’s a winning combination.
Self-portrait, October 22, 2012
Self-portrait, November 14, 2012
Projects are pretty varied. One series is based on self-portraits. I've been creating self-portraits for 20 years now. Since landing in L.A., I've been creating my self-portraits in a variety of different environments, from Palm Springs, Griffith Park, downtown, and lots of other places. I really love exploring L.A. Driving around town has allowed me to discover new and interesting backdrops. Of course, it's also helped me to get to know the town I live in.
For You! January 2, 2014
Another series is titled "For You!" - a collection of flower images I've been capturing from around L.A. I've always loved taking photographs of flowers because it reminds me of my late grandmother Elizabeth and is a way for me to honor her and my family roots. Thanks to the warm climate here in L.A., flowers bloom year-round.
"LADZ" is a series of images I collaborated on with artist Adrian Gilliland (see above). We share a similar aesthetic and we really wanted to work on a project together, so we came up with "LADZ." It's a series of images I photographed, and then Adrian has been painting a series inspired by the photographs we captured all around Southern California. The project is really awesome!
Self-portrait, Eagle L.A., June 11, 2012
And then there’s the "Barmaid" project — a collection of self-portraits, interior landscapes and portraits at the Eagle L.A. I worked as a bar-back for a year and a half at the Eagle, which was awesome. And as a result have a collection of personal and affectionate images contrasted against a more severe environment.
I keep seeing these beautiful photos of a lot of our mutual friends on Facebook. You mentioned they are from a larger project. Can you tell us about that?
Absolutely. "The Visitor" is a collection of portraits I've been photographing since November 2013. I'm taking both portraits of friends in their homes and taking shots that place myself in the background of the image. Basically, the image is both a portrait and a self-portrait. I’m hoping to introduce this imagery as my first solo show in L.A.
The shots you see in social media are the outtakes, which are just additional portraits of the subjects without me in the shot. Those Instagram pics (johnarsenaultphoto) have definitely helped get people excited about being included in the project.
If money were no object and you had access to anyone and anything you wanted, what would be a dream shoot for you?
Are you suggesting you want to fund my project? Yay! Seriously, I've been daydreaming of this for two years now. I can’t really pinpoint a single person or place — the idea is bigger then that.
I’d like to visit non-U.S. communities that are really getting into the gay rights dialogue — India, Shanghai, Africa, Russia. And expand "The Vistor" project. As an out gay man, it would include self-portraits within environments where gays often aren't accepted or feel uncomfortable.
About John: Raised in a small town in northern Massachusetts, Arsenault moved to New York City in 1997 to pursue a degree in photography at the School of Visual Arts. He now resides in Los Angeles. Arsenault’s photographs are represented by ClampArt Gallery NYC and in the permanent collections of the Nerman Museum of Contemporary Art in Overland Park, Kan., and the Museum of Fine Arts, Houston.
Pablo. December 30, 2013, Hollywood. From "The Visitor" project
Click through for more of John Arsenault's work from "The Visitor" project. >>>
Marcus. December 21, Silver Lake
Brent. November 7, 2013, West Hollywood
Mikey and John. November 20, 2013, Palm Springs, Calif.
Mike. November 6, 2013, Venice, Calif.
Andrew. November 16, 2013, West Hollywood
Taylor and Don. December 14, 2013, Silver Lake
Jay. November 11, 2013, Los Angeles
Nick. December 19, 2013, West Hollywood
Cristhian. November 10, 2013 Los Angeles
Duane. December 17, 2013, Silver Lake,
Roddrigo and Elijah. November 11, 2013, West Hollywood
Matthew. November 27, 2013, Hollywood
Luke and Marcus. November 8, 2013, West Hollywood
Jovin. November 10, 2013, West Hollywood
Adrian. November 6, 2013, Silver Lake
Bradley and Samer. November 27, 2013, Atwater Village
Chris. November 29, 2013, West Hollywood
Danny! November 14, 2013, Los Angeles
Stephen. December 22, 2013, Hollywood
Mario. November 9, 2013, Silver Lake
Kenny. December 20, 2013, West Hollywood
Eric. November 13, 2013, Hollywood
Dicky and Kash, No. 2. December 1, 2013, West Hollywood
Dare. November 13, 2013, Los Angeles
Daniel. December 1, 2013, West Hollywood
Eric. November 20, 2013, West Hollywood
Roman. No. 2. November 11, 2013, West Hollywood
Richard. December 16, 2013, Silver Lake
Franco. December 13, 2013, Los Feliz
Greg and Matt. November 21, 2013, Los Angeles
Gregory. November 20, 2013, Hollywood
Howard. December 1, 2013, West Hollywood
Xander. November 15, 2013, West Hollywood
Jefferson. November 21, 2013, Hollywood
Kyle. November 14, 2013, Los Angeles