For fifth-generation SoCal-er Harry Brant Chandler, Los Angeles is much more than a place to call home—it’s a continual source of inspiration. As a member of the prestigious Los Angeles Times-founding family, Chandler has seen firsthand many of the city’s most famous exports go from unknowns to worldwide successes. And therein lies the premise behind Chadler’s most recent export, Dreamers in a Dream City.
The 150-page book is part photo collection, part biographical anthology. Between its covers, Chandler shoots and depicts 54 of the city’s most creative thinkers, ranging from politicians and entrepreneurs to actors and inventors, all of whom have drawn inspiration from inside L.A.’s strangely idealistic city lines. In Dreamers’ first chapter, Chandler profiles some of the city’s most prolific “builders,” including historic real estate developer Abbot Kinney and acclaimed architect Frank Gehry. Chandler’s insightful profiles and eclectic mix of current photography and remade vintage images (which he reserves for figures no longer living) goes on to focus on everyone from Governor Arnold Schwarzenegger to billboard provocateur Angelyne.
Throughout it all, Chandler subtly draws upon the idea he poses in Dreamers’ brief introduction: “Los Angeles and the Southern California region have been, for much of the twentieth century, the Promised Land for pilgrims in search of the American dream.” His sense of wonderment and genuine awe for the people he profiles comes through in each installment, making for a series of biographies that are both info-filled and engaging to read.
Still, it’s Chandler’s attention to visual detail that makes Dreamers the success that it is. His startling portraits of modern dreamers like minister Dr. Robert Schuller (whom he poses from within Orange County’s breathtaking Crystal Cathedral) and author Ray Bradbury (shot up close at nighttime and backlit by L.A.’s Pacific Design Center) portray both city and subject with a careful eye to the overall story being told. And considering L.A.’s enormity, that’s no small feat.
Harry Brant Chandler reads from and discusses Dreamers in Dream City this Friday, April 30 at the Santa Barbara Historical Museum (136 E. De la Guerra St.) at noon. Call 966-1601 or visit santabarbaramuseum.com.