Eye-Gifts from Pedro
Track 16 is pleased to present the debut exhibition of photographs by Mike Watt, legendary musician and founding member of iconic punk band, The Minutemen. One of the most respected and greatly loved figures in American popular culture, Watt is a protean figure who’s done collaborative projects with everyone from Sonic Youth and Iggy Pop, to Eddie Vedder and the Red Hot Chili Peppers. He contributed bass and/or vocals to more than fifty albums by various artists, was a founding member of ten bands, and is host of the internet radio program, The Watt from Pedro Show (twfps.com). Watt published his first non-fiction book, Spiels of a Minuteman, in 2003, and is truly a renaissance man for the 21st Century. The opening reception will be on Thursday, April 1 from 7-9 P.M. Regular gallery hours following the opening will be from Thursday through Saturday from noon to 6 P.M. The Mike Watt exhibition will run through May 1, 2010.
A longtime resident of San Pedro, Watt began photographing the Port of Los Angeles in 2002. Often shot while he was kayaking or biking, Watt’s images offer a vibrant portrait of a working harbor seemingly untouched by time. Comprising 25 digital ink-jet prints chosen from a selection of 1,300 images – which represent a fraction of Watt’s archive -- Eye-Gifts from Pedro shows us the cable and steel that structure the Port, the rust and salt that encrust every surface, coastal wildlife, and sunrises that arrive with explosions of blazing color. Central to all of Watt’s work is the ever-changing ocean, which moves from waves that come in like locomotives then dissolve into lacy patterns of foam, to surfaces so still they mirror the sky.
In a recent interview Watt had this to say about his photographs.
“I started taking digital shots when columbia records gave me a primitive mavecia (used floppy discs!) in 1997. I really didn’t get into it though w/the bike riding in the early morning (I started pedaling in 1996 after like 22 years of not riding a bicycle cuz I got a car at sixteen) ‘till around 2002. I was in love w/early morning but never thought of taking pictures. you know, pedro faces east – much different than the other so cal water towns and that’s what we got: sunrises and not really sunsets. I started paddling maybe seven years ago. I love my kayak and it’s above-the-waist action so it gives my knees a break (I paddle tuesdays, thursdays and saturdays) - I had surgeries on them in my early twenties (I’m fiftytwo now) cuz I was born w/them bad (gift from my pop’s danish ma) and fuck, my pop was a sailor - an engine room cat (chief, machinist mate) so why not be my own engine room? so I’m a paddler besides a pedaler. I have a waterproof camera for when I’m in the ‘yak and then one for pedaling I carry in kind of a purse the goes over my shoulder crosswise.
“I moved to pedro from norfolk, virginia in 1967. I was born near norfolk in a town called portsmouth. do you know the navy base close by (newport news) is the biggest navy base in the world? well, pedro was closer to viet nam than virginia so my pop got orders and they put us here. shit, he was enlisted man. senior chief was as high as you could go and he did that w/out ever graduating high school and get this - they wanted him to try for officer but he said “no” and did twenty years before retiring to fresno (where there’s no ocean - learn something about the navy that way!) and died at only fiftytwo... the engine rooms he worked were nukes. my pop told me never to join the navy but I think I joined the punk navy instead! that’s the idea behind my first opera “contemplating the engine room” which parallels my pop’s life in the navy w/the life of the minutemen. the hardest lesson I’ve learned in life is that of losing people - it’s just so hard for me.
“why do I love pedro? I love her geography. all my music history’s here - this is where I met d. boon... his ma put me on bass. I was a changed man! I love my town. we have nature, we have geography, we have some history. mr bukowski’s planted here - you know?
“I wanna be buried at sea.”