We had the good fortune of connecting with Aline Smithson and we’ve shared our conversation below.
Hi Aline, how has your background shaped the person you are today?
I was born and raised in Los Angeles, Silverlake to be exact. It was an amazing place to grow up — it was filled with diversity and I grew up with a wide array of friends whose parents came from all over the globe. I also had an early knowledge of Neutra, Schindler, and Lautner as the mid-century modern homes were simply places where my friends lived. The other huge influence was the proximity to Hollywood. I was fascinated by the star studded streets and the facades of reality.
Can you open up a bit about your work and career? We’re big fans and we’d love for our community to learn more about your work.
I realize that being an artist requires a certain fortitude that comes from making work in spite of the demands of the real world. Making art after you work all day, or parent children, or take care of declining parents. The dog needs a walk and the garden and friendships need attending. And the laundry. the laundry. For years, my creative efforts were stunted from all the things that make us human. A lot of my creativity took place as I was falling asleep after a long work day or driving my children to various activities and the art came out in small crevices of time that I was able to carve out in between taco night and making lunches. Now that my children are enmeshed in their own lives, I divide my time up into making art, teaching, and writing and editing Lenscratch, a daily journal on photography that I have written for 14 years. I have had some wonderful successes, but truly, I am at my happiest when I am making art, alone and quiet, not quite sure where I’m going but enjoying the adventure to get there.
If you had a friend visiting you, what are some of the local spots you’d want to take them around to?
I would stay in Los Angeles for a few days and totally go old Hollywood–breakfast at the Beverly Hills Hotel, a drive through Beverly Hills with a Map of the Stars in hand, then lunch on the Chateau Marmont patio for some celebrity sighting. I would have made an appointment to visit some of the Case Study Houses put on by the LA Conservancy, particularly the Stahl House-Case Study House #22. (https://www.laconservancy.org/locations/stahl-house-case-study-house-22) Dinner would be at on Hollywood Blvd. at Musso and Franks, with an after dinner stroll down the star studded boulevard to see Grahmann’s Chinese Theater. Finally I would take my friend to the Smoke House in Burbank for some music and dancing, and maybe some of their famous garlic bread. I would head out to Joshua Tree for some desert R&R with a slowed-down, other worldly landscape.
The Shoutout series is all about recognizing that our success and where we are in life is at least somewhat thanks to the efforts, support, mentorship, love and encouragement of others. So is there someone that you want to dedicate your shoutout to?
I’d love to give a shout out to two entities–first, the Los Angeles Center of Photography, where I have been teaching for 20 years. The founder,Julia Dean, has been relentless in her pursuit to bring photography education to Los Angeles and has built a remarkable community. I’d also like to give a shout out to the remarkable Lenscratch staff, some who have been with the publication for years, working for free (we all work gratis), giving their time and energy to celebrate others.