Since the early 19th century, photography, which literally means “drawing with light,” has served as the most accurate tool for recording specific moments in time. From the first photo etching in 1822, to the introduction of film, to the present digital age, photography has been used for many things from business advertisements to recreational documentation, as well as for artistic expression. While often criticized as merely the “mechanical reproduction of an image,” artists have been utilizing photography interchangeably as a means to capture and preserve the ephemerality of daily existence whether it be to reveal their own exclusive spaces, question moments that may define a specific culture, or bring together individuals through introducing relative experiences.
As a San Francisco gallery pressing to give light to under-exposed San Francisco-based artists, this April, the Guerrero Gallery will bring together three photographers as ambassadors of their medium, as well as of the San Francisco art community. The group show will feature work from prolific photographers, Ted Pushinsky, Travis Jensen, and Andrea Sonnenberg. As a representative of an older generation, Pushinsky’s black and white photographs capture San Francisco’s ethnic and economic diversity through the raw details of daily life, while photographer, Travis Jensen, through younger eyes, captures similar material in a commercial twist, and Andrea Sonnenberg’s glimpse of innocence paves the way for a younger generation of artists. The purpose of this exhibition is to both reveal and revel in the unique blend of cultural diversity and innate individuals, which have always done, and still do, make this city.
Andrea Sonnenberg is a 23-year-old documentary photographer currently residing in the beautiful city of San Francisco, where she was born and raised. As a self-taught artist, Andrea has been shooting with 35 mm film since she was 14 years old. Her photographs depict the antics of her friends and herself in a unique and passionate fashion, giving the viewer an intimate glimpse into another world; a world that is simultaneously beautiful and horrifying. Her mastery of the medium is in part due to the perseverance and dedication she has devoted to her practice, as well as, her raw talent and ability to spot these instances. Known by the moniker Teen-Witch, Andrea is a part of the DRUGS crew collective, and in 2011 her photos were exhibited at MOCA as a part of the “Art In the Streets Exhibition.”
Andrea, like her photographs, wears her heart on her sleeve, and it is her unapologetic sense of honesty that has won the hearts of people all around the world. She documents the transition from adolescence to adulthood in such a fashion that it is hard not to feel a strong connection to the trials and triumphs of the subjects she captures. Her work aesthetically captures the youth culture that currently defines the international street scene while maintaining investment in subject matter specific to San Francisco. She fearlessly tackles issues such as sex, drugs, poverty, and vandalism within the city, and does so with a masterful awareness of natural light and space that are unique to San Francisco. These conscious relationships to local places, people, and phenomena would not be possible without Andrea’s history and dedication to this city.
All of these dynamic factors have made Andrea Sonnenberg one of the most important artistic voices of San Francisco’s youth today. As a San Francisco based gallery, it is an honor and imperative to promote a local artist as talented and important as Andrea. She is an artistic ambassador for the youth of the city and is helping to enhance San Francisco’s reputation in the broader art community.
Ted Pushinsky, a local native to the San Francisco scene, has been a street photographer since the early ‘70’s capturing moments of adolescent expression, public performance, individual ambiguities, law enforcement, misfortune and narrative mysteries. His relationship to subjects and events comes across as highly personal, and takes the viewer deep into the complexities of civilization. Pushinsky manages to navigate complex subject matter with a powerful sense of empathy and compassion that is reflected throughout his work.
Shooting black and white photographs for over forty-years, his photos occasionally give hints to the era in which they were taken. However, more often than not, the time frame of each photo is shrouded in mystery. This mystery is a definitive characteristic of Pushinsky’s oeuvre. Each photo seems to portray scenes that leave the viewer thirsting in vain for an explanation. Pushinsky’s years of experience are apparent in his masterful ability to capture sometimes bizarre, and frequently moving candid scenarios.
Although much of his photography is taken internationally, it is clear that the majority of his work is made around his home in San Francisco. The local narratives he captures are complicated, and his honest and raw point and shoot approach has won the hearts of people all over the world. As a result of his dedication and talent, his work has been exhibited internationally, including shows at the Tokyo Nakaochiai Gallery in Japan, the San Francisco Museum of Modern Art, 111 Minna Gallery, SF Camerawork and the Powerhouse Arena in Brooklyn, New York. The work has appeared in publications such as Newsweek, Dance Magazine, Boxing USA,Hamburger Eyes, Vice, and Fader.
An avid street photographer, Travis Jensen can often be found scouring the San Francisco streets snapping shots of not only the unique and eclectic characters known to SF, but also the everyday realities generally underexposed. From cops at a donut shop and kids making out; to bouncers at a club and street drugs, Jensen captures the dark and the humorous; the gritty and the unapologetic, all with an obvious appreciation of the city and it’s street culture. Despite the camera’s regular image as a device of documentation that separates photographer from subject, Travis uses the camera to personally connect with people and the city he loves. Whether it be through sharing stories, or sharing drinks, Jensen takes his photographs personally.
While having collaborated with multiple companies and published several books, Travis’s work has been exhibited numerous times, and continues to appear in a variety of print and online publications. Most of the profits from his photos and books are donated to Larkin Street Youth Services — a San Francisco-based non-profit organization that provides various support services for at-risk youth living on the street.
As an at-risk youth himself once, Jensen believes in giving back to the city that raised him and has taught him so much. “Growing up” in the city, the streets have never quite left him and thus he has a personal understanding of his home and its inhabitants that is uniquely reflected in his candid shots and street portraits.