The Teen Years, Joseph Bellows Gallery, La Jolla

Joseph Bellows’ summer exhibition sees the gallery explore and address the physical, social and emotional aspects of adolescence, as well as the formation of identity, through a collection of vintage and contemporary photographic prints. Entitled The Teen Years, the show features a dynamically curated display of works that, as a collective, portray a diverse and energetic depiction of youth, from its awkwardness, innocence and beauty to its fury, elation and trepidation.

The presentation, which runs until 26 August, brings together a wealth of images by both known and unrecognised talents including Joseph Sterling, Edward Sturr, Enrico Natali, Elaine Mayes, Bevan Davies, Nacio Jan Brown, Melissa Shook, Harry Ibach, Duncan McCosker, Christine Osinski, Joan Albert, Sage Sohier, Mark Steinmetz, John Myers, Andrea Modica, Bill Yates, Roger Vail and others. Integral to each piece is its ability to capture a sense of time and place through the fashions and styles adopted by every sitter, which in turn creates engaging comparisons and disparities across nations and eras.

Alongside the intimate and distinctive nature of each print, is a sense of universality in the teenage world: unexpected parallels can be drawn between the likes of Mark Steinmetz’s contemplative solo portrait Jessica, Athens, GA (1997) and Joan Albert’s Martin (1980), and Edward Sturr’s casual male cohort in Coney Island (1963) and the intense gaze of Christine Osinski’s Two Girls with Big Wheels (1983-84). Whilst many of the images on display capture life in the U.S., and are also taken by predominantly American photographers, time is also spent connecting these scenes with those in European regions such as Italy and Greece.

The Teen Years, until 26 August, Joseph Bellows Gallery, La Jolla.

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1. Mark Steinmetz Jessica, Athens, GA 1997 gelatin silver print 16 x 20 inches. Courtesy of Joseph Bellows Gallery.