Camarillo, Calif.— Photographer John Raymond Mireles has been on a three-year journey that has taken him to all 50 states and introduced him to more than 3,000 “Neighbors” as he wound his way through small towns and large cities creating over-sized photographic portraits of the diverse faces that make up this country. In Nov. 2019, Mireles came to Studio Channel Islands Art Center (SCIART) in Camarillo, where he photographed volunteer participants from around Camarillo and Ventura County to include in his 2020 exhibition, on exhibit now through Nov. 21, 2020. Entrance to the exhibition is free and by appointment. Reservations can be made through the SCIART website.
SCIART will be hosting an Artist Talk panel discussion featuring Mireles, Social Justice Fund for Ventura County (SJFVC) Administrative Director Martha Martinez-Bravo and CSU Channel Islands Foundation Director Eva Gomez on Nov. 7 at 1 p.m. during which participants can ask the participants questions via Zoom. Artist Talks are free to members; $10 for nonmembers. Reservations can be made online at studiochannelislands.org/neighbors.
The “Neighbors” project began in San Diego’s Barrio Logan community with a visual display of Mireles’ own neighbors along the fence outside his home. His goal was to bring a sense of belonging to the neighborhood. This initial work has grown into a travelling exhibition of 86 portraits of Americans from all 50 states (plus the District of Columbia) and is displayed on fences and walls in politically and geographically diverse communities throughout the country, demonstrating that fences provide an opportunity for connection, not division.
Mireles, a graduate of the University of California, Santa Barbara, has been documenting the American experience for more than 25 years. A professional rock climber, Mireles began photographing his fellow climbing partners for renowned sports magazines which led to work with advertising agencies across the country and recognition and awards from the Creative Show and Communication Arts. After years of commercial work, Mireles turned his lens to narrative-driven projects exploring social justice. One of his earliest series in this vein, Invisible River, used environmental portraiture to highlight the economic disparity of individuals living in a string of towns that line a highway in the Southern California desert. Subsequent projects include photographic explorations of the Bakken oil fields in North Dakota and the tracing of his Hispanic roots in the Tularosa Valley of New Mexico. Mireles divides his time between New York City and San Diego.
“John’s work is more relevant and important now than when he initiated the project. The fractured nature of our politics combined with the stay-home orders have further deepened the divides in our community,” said Peter Tyas, SCIART executive director. “John’s work is a celebration of the people who surround us and an opportunity to pause and consider what connects us rather than what separates us. It was a great pleasure to welcome John into our community and to include the faces of our friends and neighbors in his portrait of the nation.”
For more information, visit http://studiochannelislands.org/ or call 805-383-1368.
Studio Channel Islands Art Center is a 501(c)(3) nonprofit organization dedicated to advancing the arts and creative life within the communities of Ventura County, fostering connections between artists and visitors, and celebrating the cultural identity of our community. Ongoing programs include art classes for adults and children, providing studio space for professional artists, presenting diverse art shows in its Blackboard Gallery and providing community art and cultural events for individuals and families. Gallery hours are Tues.–Fri., 11 a.m.–5 p.m., Sat. 11 a.m.–3 p.m. Located at 2222 E. Ventura Blvd., Camarillo, CA 93010.
Studio Channel Islands Art Center