Swedish automaker Volvo, the corporate sponsor of the recently concluded LA Art Show 2014, invited Laguna Beach photographer Tom Lamb to be the signature exhibitor. Though his acclaimed aerial photographs with an environmental focus certainly got their attention, but his ownership of a vintage 1962 Volvo-Jensen PI 800 Coupé sealed the deal.
Lamb’s meticulously maintained vehicle bears witness to Volvo’s claim of timelessness and durability, while his dramatic aerial environmental photographs are an ode to the resiliency of nature and life and the forces of modernity.
The juxtaposition of forward mobility and art as a concept caught the attention of Volvo Car Group’s executives, none of whom were available for comment via email.
Lamb had said that his work had been recruited into a marketing strategy titled “An Artist and his Volvo. ”
To create the Volvo exhibit at the Los Angeles Convention Center, Jan. 15-19, Lamb teamed up with Henry Korn, who previously curated an exhibition of Lamb’s work, “Marks on the Land: The View from Here,” for Irvine’s Great Park.
Korn divided the exhibition into two parts, with the iconic Volvo serving as the centerpiece that separated traditional photographic works from Lamb’s more contemporary ones. The division was a necessity; the displays were 125 yards apart.
“The first part retraces his journey as an inspired photographer showing images by Walker Evans, Robert Heinecken and John Siskin. The second one features Lamb’s own work, proving that there is beauty in all aspects of the environment, even destruction layered under the gorgeous visual intrigue,” said Korn, referring to Lamb’s work, which included the dismantling and transformation of the former El Toro Marine Air Base into the Great Park.
Korn also singles out Lamb’s “Street Sweeper” series, “Art on the Road.” While the titles might evoke images of people wielding brooms or tank-like conveyances, they focus on the debris of revolving brushes shedding their tines. Lamb has followed the behemoth cleaners, collecting the tines and repurposing them as parts of abstract photo compositions, suggesting that even the best (environmental) intentions are imperfect.
Lamb, who has been a Volvo enthusiast since the ‘60s, now voyages along with his work, which in February includes exhibition stops in Auroville and Pondicherry, India, as well as Laguna Beach’s sister city, Menton, France, and Palm Springs. He’s not sure what to expect. “I am only sending them digital images and they will have to find their own way to reproduce them,” he said.