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Great Event...Lousy Hostess

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As promised, LAist attended the Opening Reception event for this year's magnificent photo l.a.. This LAist, an ardent east-sider/Valley girl, was only a little bitter about making the rush hour trek to the Santa Monica Civic Auditorium, but since we know our south and west-bound streets well, made it there in record time. The place was brimming with all sorts of minglers, from young bohemians in scruffy denim, to older men and women in elegant evening wear and pricey suits. The Santa Monica Civic isn't the prettiest of venues, particularly with its arena concrete floors and sixties design aesthetic, but photo l.a. used the space well to set up a seemingly seamless maze of booths, each hung with representative photography and staffed with plesant and eager reps to show their wares. Our first stop was the food patio--it was dinnertime, and that drive made us hungry--to check out what kind of wine and cheese was being offered. Not only is this LAist an ardent east-sider/Valley girl, but she's also the LAist food girl, and we were tickled to see the food sponsors, like Border Grill/Ciudad (where aren't those two tamales?), Grace, Cinch, Cobras & Matadors, and Sonora Cafe. But, bestill our heart--is that Susina Bakery? And plates of gorgeous treats from La Provence? The most neglected table, curiously enough, was the one loaded with boxes from Krispy Kreme; can it be that their once-hot donuts are now passe?

We happily accepted a sponsored cocktail (the Surrender: Absolut Peach with OJ, grenadine and peach slices) and set to roaming the aisles of photos. The sheer number and range of photographs was stunning; it was much like being set loose in a chaotic museum. We were struck by rare prints from the 1800's, gorgeous old Hollywood black and whites, larger than life full color images, and bins full of prints we could only wish to afford. For anyone interested in the history of photography, the industry of photography in publications, or collecting photography, this is your event. It was a lot to take in, so we made several sweeps of the room, pausing as much as we could amidst the party-going melee to take photos of the photos and to drink in the artwork. Of course, the big draw that night for many was that Diane Keaton was the event hostess. Only...she didn't seem to be there. People came up to us out of the blue, asking "Say, have you seen Diane Keaton?" No, we hadn't. We noticed that even the staffers looked edgy, and the press photogs hovered endlessly near the door. 'Where's Diane?" we kept hearing them say. The food was packed up, and people were streaming out and not in. It was just after 8, and the event was set to end at 9. "Where's Diane?" we still heard. Well, we gave up. It's a long drive back to the east end of the Valley on an Absolut buzz (such a martyr, we were, countering the alcohol with Susina Bakery profiteroles and tarts). We have no idea if the hostess ever bothered to show. That's okay. It was a great event.

Photo l.a. is open to the public today and tomorrow. A one day pass is $20; lectures are priced separately. Check their website for more details.

Saturday, January 21: Noon -7 pm: public hours;10 am: lecture by Eikoh Hosoe;12 pm: lecture by David Hilliard;2 pm: lecture by Jeff Brouws;4 pm: lecture by Lucien Clergue.

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Sunday, January 22: Noon-6 pm: public hours;9 am: collecting seminar with Rick Wester; 10am: lecture by Paul Messier; 1pm: Collecting Photographs in the New Art Market; 3pm: lecture by Martin Parr.