Press Release: The Bridge Builders by Joseph A. Blum

LOCAL PHOTOGRAPHER EXPOSES THE BAY BRIDGE’S EAST SPAN CONSTRUCTION
The San Francisco Arts Commission Galleries Presents
The Bridge Builders by Joseph A. Blum

On view June 24, 2013 through September 27, 2013 at SF City Hall

SAN FRANCISCO, March 7, 2013 – Joe Blum has been hard at work on the Bay Bridge’s newly constructed eastern span, but his tools look a bit different than the men and women that surround him – his tools are a 35 mm Nikon camera, and occasionally a large format Pentax camera. From the Bridge project’s inception in 1998, Blum has been dutifully documenting the process of its expansion, and intends to continue until the Bridge’s completion and formal opening sometime this year.  Presented by the SFAC Galleries Art at City Hall Program from June 6 through September 27, 2013, The Bridge Builders will feature 70 of Blum’s large-format color photographs that give viewers an all-access look at the making of the new bridge.

Twenty-five years as a boilermaker, shipfitter, and welder, provide Blum with an informed eye, an expansive mechanical vocabulary, and a unique ability to focus on the important human component of the bridge’s construction. While the artist has photographed all aspects of the structure’s erection, the people who labor to build the new bridge hold the greatest interest for Blum. He explains, “In so far as possible, I have attempted to photograph the building of this bridge from their perspective and I think that the public should get to see their work from that point of view and hopefully honor and celebrate it, as I do.”

SFAC Galleries Director Meg Shiffler can’t wait to give Blum the attention he deserves. “He is one of the most dedicated photographers I have ever met, and has captured images that no one else could get because of the personal bond he has developed with the crews and the deep knowledge of the work they do,” states Shiffler.

Arresting height and gargantuan scale assault the viewer in images that often seem inconceivable. Blum’s images capture the sheer physicality necessary to work in the midst of rebar cages and tower cranes. Men and women are documented in rapt attention as they leverage their weight against steel and concrete, muscles taut and eyes focused. The photographer has infused each of his photographs of the Bridge’s laborers with distinct nobility. It’s clear from the artist’s treatment of his subjects that these individuals are an imperative piece of the project’s puzzle. Blum states, “There would not be a bridge without the men and women who are building it. They are the ones who have transformed the ideas of the bridge designers, architects and engineers from blueprints and drawings into a living structure of steel and concrete.”

Opening Reception: Thursday, July 11, 5:30 – 7:30pm. Free and open to the public.
San Francisco City Hall, ground floor
1 Dr. Carlton B. Goodlett Place
SF, CA  94102
For more information: sfartscommission.org/gallery

 

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