Return to FinchHaven Photography Archives: the Nineteen-Seventies

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John Sage / FinchHaven Photography Archives

the Nineteen-Seventies: California

In no particular order, except the most recent additions are at the top...

 ·  Mexican Mask Folk Art, the Art Galleries,
California State University at Long Beach, early 1970s
 · 

 ·  the Foundry, the Sculpture Department,
California State University at Long Beach, March 1971
 · 

 ·  Epoch Ceramics Inc, Compton California, 1974 · 

 ·  the High Fire Works studio, Long Beach California, early 1970s · 

 ·  Surfing at the Huntington Beach Pier, California early 1970s · 

 ·  Trans-Am Race at Laguna Seca Raceway, California October 1971 · 

 ·  Los Angeles Auto Show 1971 · 

 ·  Joshua Tree National Monument, California April 1971 · 

 ·  Wild Oats, Huntington Beach California 1973 · 

 ·  Mount San Gorgonio California, October 1972 · 

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Mexican Mask Folk Art, the Art Galleries,
California State University at Long Beach, Long Beach CA, early 1970s

Background (such as I recall it): Undated and unnumbered black-and-white positive slides. No idea what film was originally used; Google suggests that Kodak did have a black-and-white positive slide film maybe into the 1970's. These look like I may have been shooting either archival photos or photos for a show publication, but still I have no idea why I would be shooting black-and-white since all these masks are beautifully colored:

Masks on display at the Museum of Popular Art in Mexico City

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Photo, Wikipedia: File:MaskDisplayMaPHidalgo.JPG · Source article: Mexican mask-folk art

Also puzzling is the fact that these are my slides; when I worked on the Gallery Crew and then later as a Graduate Assistant in the Art Galleries I did all the photography for, and of, all the shows but all those slides would have stayed behind in the Art Gallery archives when I finally left Long Beach State for good in maybe 1973.

This Mexican Mask show was one of the major shows at the Cal State Long Beach Art Galleries the year it happened, as I recall, but after that I can't remember much about it. I do seem to recall that the masks were all from a private, local Southern California collection.

The first photos show the masks being curated and cataloged by Don Dame, PhD, who (with Carl Day) was one of the two Gallery Directors. A wonderful, wonderful man to work for...

Set one: Mexican Mask Folk Art, the Art Galleries, California State University at Long Beach, early 1970s

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Set one: Mexican Mask Folk Art, the Art Galleries, California State University at Long Beach, early 1970s

Set two: Mexican Mask Folk Art, the Art Galleries, California State University at Long Beach, early 1970s

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Set two: Mexican Mask Folk Art, the Art Galleries, California State University at Long Beach, early 1970s

Set three: Mexican Mask Folk Art, the Art Galleries, California State University at Long Beach, early 1970s

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Set three: Mexican Mask Folk Art, the Art Galleries, California State University at Long Beach, early 1970s

Mexican Mask Folk Art, the Art Galleries,
California State University at Long Beach, Long Beach CA, early 1970s


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the Foundry, the Sculpture Department,
California State University at Long Beach
,
March 1971

Background (such as I recall it): I was an art major in high school and started at California State College (to become California State University) at Long Beach as a art major. After all the prerequisite drawing, painting and design classes I settled into the Sculpture Department and stayed there. Something about working in three dimensions, and all the technical processes of it were very attractive.

Did a lot of stone-carving, but even more lost-wax bronze casting.

The lost wax process at the scale of largish sculptures is fascinating: make the original sculpture in microcrystaline wax, attach sprues and vents to get the molten bronze in and the gasses out, invest the wax original and its sprues and vents in a cylindrical flask, fire the flask upside down in a kiln to harden/strengthen the investment and drain off/burn off the wax, pull the still-hot flask out of the burnout kiln and pack it in sand while bronze ingots and bronze scrap are in the crucible in a furnace being melted, pull the crucible out, pour the sculpture. The next day when it's completely cooled break the investment off the poured sculpture, hacksaw off the sprues and vents, and begin the final chasing and finishing on the newly-cast sculpture.

Process. Lots of it, with lots of steps, and lots of heat and fire and smoke along the way. What's not to love?

By my senior year I was actually working on the foundry crew. The very first time I worked one ot the pours I was on one end of the two-handled collar that pulls the crucible out of the furnace. The temperature of the crucible was somewhere around 2200 degrees. The heat was simple staggering.

Ektachrome slides.

the Foundry, the Sculpture Department,
California State University at Long Beach, March 1971

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The fired investment flasks have had the wax burned out and are being packed into sand for the pour

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Sprues from previous pours are preheated on the top of the furnace before being dropped into the crucible to melt

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Opening the furnace lid. Temperature somewhere around 2200 degrees, plus

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The crucible is lowered down into a second two-handled collar. This collar will be used to control the actual pour

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Dr Stephen Werlick (red jacket) watches for the flask to fill and will give the word to stop

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In lost-styrofoam casting, the foam is burned out at the moment the aluminum is poured in

the Foundry, the Sculpture Department, California State University at Long Beach, March 1971

the Foundry, the Sculpture Department, California State University at Long Beach,
March 1971


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Epoch Ceramics Inc, Compton California 1974

Background (such as I recall it): So if the High Fire Works in Long Beach California was the idylic hippie-potter paradise, Epoch Ceramics was the hard-core industrial future of commercial production high-fire stoneware in Southern California in the 1970's.

Epoch Ceramics was founded by two Otis Art Institute (1970's name; now the Otis College of Art and Design) graduates and was working in direct competition with the slightly older Christopher Robin Pottery, where other of my potter friends from Long Beach State worked.

Epoch was pure production and pure business: we threw to a specific product line where each item had set dimensions and a set appearance, and we were paid by piece-work.

Piece-work is an interesting wage system: when you were not working, you literally were not making any money. I threw almost exclusively round-bottomed hanging planters called "pods" -- for which I was paid $0.22 cents each. One dozen pods per ware board, maybe 20-22 ware boards on a good day. Roughly $290.00 per week, maybe $1,000.00 take-home per month. Not bad for a single dude who was paying $90.00 per month for rent.

I worked at Epoch for maybe two-and-a-half years or so. That's how I made enough money to move to Seattle in 1975.

Ektachrome slides.

Epoch Ceramics Inc, Compton California, 1974

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Epoch Ceramics Inc. The street sign and the address numbers were "8205 Compton Ave". I've never been able to find anything that even remotely looks like this in Google Earth now...

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Clay storage on pallets outside. The shell of the building where the clay was stored (and I parked my car) was burned-out and left over from the Watts Riots in 1965

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Steve Stewart (l) and Mario Mortara (r), throwing planters outside on a "nice" day. Mario was one of the High Fire Works potters; both Mario and Steve were in the Ceramics department with me at Cal State Long Beach

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Four new but unfinished car kilns under construction as part of the factory expansion. The factory size was doubled. When I left in June of 1975 the four kilns were firing daily

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The owner Bob trying to drive us back to work. Bob was an Otis Art Institue graduate and pretty much the same age as the rest of us. Back to front: Steve Stewart, Mario Mortara, and me

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Back to work. Left to right: Mario Mortara, me, and Steve Stewart. This was taken before the factory expansion: the back wall on the right was opened up and the factory extended back, doubling the size. The potters (maybe five or six of us) ended up along the back wall at the very far end

Epoch Ceramics Inc, Compton California, 1974

Epoch Ceramics Inc, Compton California 1974


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the High Fire Works studio, Long Beach California. early 1970s

Background (such as I recall it): the High Fire Works was a group pottery and glass blowing studio in Long Beach California in the very early 1970's. Maybe five potters, two glass blowers. Most of us were originally from the Art/Ceramics department of California State University at Long Beach. Many of us also worked up in Compton California at Epoch Ceramics Inc as professional potters.

The storefront had previously been some sort of hippy restaurant; there was a large stainless steel restaurant sink in what had been the kitchen. The "back yard" was amazing: landscaped with bamboo and pines and entirely filled with a geodesic dome, hand-made out of what legend said were 1" steel drill rods from the nearby Signal Hill oil fields.

Several different sets of undated and unnumbered Ektachrome slides.

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The High Fire Works pottery and glass studio, Long Beach California, early 1970's

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The geodesic dome in the back yard, High Fire Works pottery and glass studio

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The old hardbrick high-fire kiln at High Fire Works pottery and glass studio

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The old hardbrick high-fire kiln at High Fire Works pottery and glass studio

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Full reduction, firing the old hardbrick high-fire kiln at High Fire Works

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Darlene and me and Sisu the Wonder Dog

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Tearing down the old hardbrick high-fire kiln at High Fire Works

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Breaking up the old concrete slab. Everything goes

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The new floor, the flue opening at the back, and the burner ports are laid down in new hard brick

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Me cutting hard brick. Face shield, but no dust mask

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The arch form in place, the skewbacks are laid, and one course of arch bricks

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The ironwork for the kiln frame and the gas piping is finished

the High Fire Works studio, Long Beach California. early 1970s


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Surfing at the Huntington Beach Pier, California early 1970s

Background (such as I recall it): I'm thinking this is late fall or winter, maybe 1973-ish. Everybody's got wetsuits on. A really nice four- to six-foot north swell and light offshore wind, looks like. Note that there's still some long boards but also the "new" short boards are the majority -- although "short" seems to be over six foot in length. Still some nose-riding, but also some lip re-entries. No aerials, yet. Undated and unnumbered Ektachrome slides.

Fun Facts: I myself started surfing in about 1959 (age 11, fifth grade) and surfed continually all the way up 'til I moved to Seattle in 1975. Learned to surf on a long board up at Cabrillo Beach, San Pedro (the Port of Los Angeles) where I grew up. Surfed mostly at Torrance Beach, Palos Verdes Cove, and Royal Palms (now White Point Park) which was right at the foot of Western Avenue, and right underneath my home in South Shores, San Pedro.

South, I surfed the Seal Beach Power Plant when I was really young 'cause the water was always so warm, but mostly the Huntington Beach Cliffs for years and years once I could drive. Never really surfed the Pier very much at all: a longer drive (!) with harder parking, and too many locals. Made a couple road trips every winter up to the Fairgrounds (I think we called it) in Ventura. Surfed Mexico a few times, but it was a *really* long drive and the Federales started to not like surfers or hippies, so... And in the early- mid-70s my buddies and I would drive up to Malibu after work at Epoch Ceramics in Compton if there was a good south swell running.

Surfed Hawaii twice: summer of 1965 on a two-week tour-trip as a graduation present that was organized through the Hollywood California YMCA, and lived there in Waikiki Beach for three months in the summer of 1967 with my surfing buddy Bob. Worked at Gordon and Smith surfboards for a couple summers in the late 1960's as a plan-shaper. Lived in Mission Beach with a bunch of other surfers, sleeping in a sleeping bag on the floor with the cockroaches.

Rode Bings, pretty much, and still have my 1967 (really-truly) Dick Brewer-shaped, pin-tailed Bing Pipeliner. Rode one Morey-Pope John Peck Penetrator. It got stolen in Hawaii, summer of 1967, and I replaced it in Hawaii with a Gordon and Smith Mike Hynson Red Fin model that was much more appropriate for Hawaiian waves and off-shore winds. Replaced that with the Pipeliner, and then rode an experimental vee-bottom, swallow-tailed short board (maybe 6' 8" short) shaped by a Gordon and Smith shaper friend in 1968 and up until I moved out of SoCal. Wish I'd kept that one: it was completely custom and had a photo of Eric Clapton and the Cream and the word "ATTACK!" glassed under the deck toward the nose...

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Surfing at the Huntington Beach Pier, California early 1970s


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Trans-Am Race at Laguna Seca Raceway, California October 1971

Background (such as I recall it): I was actually quite a sports car/race fan, myself. Went to Riverside International Raceway out in Riverside, California to watch the Can-Am and Trans-Am races, and the Motor Trend 500 NASCAR races starting about 1965 or 1966. Jim Hall in a Chaparal, Denny Hulme in a McLaren, Ken Miles in a Cobra 427, like that. Anyway, in October of 1971 I talked Cathy and her middle brother Bobby into going to Laguna Seca Raceway up by Monterey to watch the Trans-Am race. The Trans-Am race was for the U-2.5 half of the series only: Datsun 510s, BMW 2002s, Saabs, Alfa Romeos. But that's what I was interested in, since I drove a pretty heavily-modified Datsun 510 myself. And there was a Formula Vee race also. The U-2.5 Trans-Am race was won by John Morton in a BRE Datsun 510. Ektachrome slides.

Fun Fact: my Datsun dropped first gear getting out of Laguna Seca at the end of the day (wouldn't have had anything to do with too much street racing, I'm sure) so every time we had to come to a full stop Cathy and Bobby would have to get out and push just long enough for me to slip the clutch in second and get the car back underway. Made for an interesting trip home to LA...

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This might be John Morton in the race-winning BRE Datsun 510

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An Alfa Romeo leads a Datsun 510 down the iconic Laguna Seca Corkscrew

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Formual Vee. bzzz...

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Trans-Am Race at Laguna Seca Raceway, California October 1971


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Los Angeles Auto Show 1971

Background (such as I recall it): uh... well... This is the Los Angeles Auto Show, in 1971. Notables: an Alfa Romeo 33 Spider Prototipo Speciale, a 1966 Ferrari 275 GTB, a 1965 Ferrari 250-275 LM, and a 1963 Ferrari 250 GTO, a McLaren M8D, a Lamborghini Miura, a Porsche Tapiro concept car, an F-Production Triumph Spitfire. With Cathy and her middle brother Bobby. Ektachrome slides.

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Los Angeles Auto Show 1971


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Joshua Tree National Monument, California April 1971

Background (such as I can recall it). Road trip; day hike. Joshua Tree National Monument, California. In my old 1965 Triumph Spitfire, with Cathy. I loved the California deserts and hiked and camped out there a lot. The way the stark landscape exposed the earth's structure was a major motivation for me to minor in Geology for several years at Cal State Long Beach. Ektachrome slides.

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This slide actually became a painting I did for one of my art classes at Cal State Long Beach...

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And ... the obligatory Joshua Tree pic...

Joshua Tree National Monument, California April 1971


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Wild Oats, Huntington Beach California 1973

Background (such as I can recall it). This is a storefront sign that my buddy Bill and I painted for a hippy arts-and-crafts co-op in Huntington Beach, California in 1973. The store was Wild Oats; Bill and I and a couple other potters from Cal State Long Beach sold pottery here. Bill and I were really into Art Deco and Aubrey Beardsley at the time; that heavily influenced the graphic design style we used. Ektachrome slides.

Then, compare and contrast the corner of Pacific Coast Highway 101 and Main Street, right at the Huntington Beach Pier, in 1973 and now. Wild Oats was in the south side corner building with only an alley and a parking lot between it and 101. Now, not so much...

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Wild Oats at the corner of Main and Pacific Coast Highway 101, 1973

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Wild Oats at the corner of Main and Pacific Coast Highway 101, 1973

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Google Earth view, the corner of Main and Pacific Coast Highway 101, now.
Wild Oats was at the arrow

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Google Street View, the corner of Main and Pacific Coast Highway 101, now.
Wild Oats was at the arrow

Wild Oats, Huntington Beach California 1973


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Mount San Gorgonio California, October 1972

Background (such as I can recall it): No clue. An overnight solo hike to the summit of Mount San Gorgonio, California. Mount San Gorgonio is the tallest peak in Southern California at 11,503 feet. The freeway in the last couple shots at the end (this is 1972) might be Interstate 10 out to Palm Springs. Maybe. Ektachrome slides.

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Mount San Gorgonio California, October 1972


Return to FinchHaven Photography Archives: the Nineteen-Seventies

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John Sage / FinchHaven Photography Archives

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