Eclectic art collector, Brook Dalton, is known for his unique visual style. This avid art collector heads Gallery 86, an art gallery of counter-culture artwork in Ventura, California. As an official participant of the Diana World Tour in Los Angeles, this Lomo Amigo brings his artistic direction to fruition, not only through his art, but also his photography.
REAL NAME: Brook Dalton
CITY: Ventura, CA
How long have you been a Lomographer… or are you new to this whole thing?
I was a neophyte when I was asked to be a part of the Lomo Amigo program. I was handed the camera, given a tutorial and then thrown out of the nest. I’ve been hooked on it ever since and have been having a great time with Lomography as a whole.
The strangest, funniest, or hands-down greatest photographic/Lomographic encounter that you have ever had.
I got asked to play guitar and sing for a house show, which I rarely do because I’m much more comfortable playing drums. It’s pretty dang nerve-wracking if you’re not used that sort of direct exposure. I remember being in the middle of the set and concentrating on the chord progressions because I didn’t want to flub the next part of the song, when I noticed my roommate walking by me. Suddenly, there was a popping sound and a tremendous white flash right in my face and I was blinded for a couple seconds. I staggered for a moment, but I think the song carried on fairly smoothly. He had walked right in front of me and snapped a picture inches from my face. He told me later that he wanted to get a natural shot, no posing or preparedness. I appreciate that because it seems to tap into the philosophy of Lomography. It
was strange for me, but there should be an element of unexpectedness with the Lomo Amigo project.
From your photos, it looks like you live a fairly interesting life outside of just hosting a one-of-a-kind gallery. What exactly is going on in these photos picturing people bobbing for pine cones and bathing in kiddie pools?
Thanks. Yeah, I’ve kind of conditioned both my life and time-management so that I’m consistently busy with some sort of project, either dealing with art, music, or an event. One of the events that 86 hosts is our annual Scavenger Hunt, and it’s always my favorite day of the year. This year was the tenth annual hunt (SHX) so it had a bit of an inflated aura about it. The items on the list are different every year and rather than just have palpable objects to find and bring back to the house, there are also plenty of activities to do in front of judges in order to earn points. That’s what is happening in those shots. Luckily, the Lomo Amigo project coincided with SHX so we got to capture a bunch of the madness on film. It was honestly one of the best days of my whole life and I’m glad that we have these pictures to help perpetuate our friends’ humiliation for generations to come.
If your photos shown here could have a soundtrack of three songs, what would they be (song title & artist please).
1) Bacon Industry by KARP
2) Ramble Tamble by Creedence Clearwater Revival
3) Gold Star For Robot Boy by Guided By Voices
You also participated in the Diana World Tour at the Lomography Gallery Store in LA… tell us about that!
When I was asked to be a contributor for the Diana World Tour, I was flattered and excited but I wanted to get a couple of other friends associated with 86 involved. Since we’re very community-based, I wanted to extend that line of thought to this project, so I asked Amber Felts and Dr. Nick to help with the Clone. We wanted to make the camera into a robot (because robots blow doors down) but we went through several design changes before we came up with the final result. Amber really added some crafty magic to our Cam Bot and made him look the way he does. I appreciate that the proceeds go to charity, but I was especially interested because each artist got to donate to the charity of their choosing. It’s great to be involved in a helpful cause that you know doesn’t have some sort of vested interest. The grand opening party was very nice and super fun. We are honored to have been involved with the Tour and I will genuinely miss the 86 Cam Bot. I know he’ll go to a good home.
The absolute best swap meet in Southern California, and why?
I really enjoy the Flea Market at Pasadena City College. It’s held on the first Sunday of each month and I always look forward to it. Some swap meets are starting to be infiltrated with commercial wares and that has never interested me. I don’t go to the flea market to feel like I’m in an infomercial for salsa makers or car wax. The Pasadena Flea Market doesn’t have any of that crud going on. It’s full of cool vintage stuff and there are always a ton of records. The record shopping alone is worth the drive. Plus, the way the aisles are designed make it easy for me to streak the place and I hardly ever get caught.
As someone who opens their home to complete strangers, be it to view modern art or participate in a city-wide Scavenger Hunt, how else do you promote a creative community in/around Ventura?
I have always made sure that 86 reciprocates as best as we can. For instance, if any artist that has a piece hanging in our home ever has an exhibit or is involved with any sort of event I’ll make sure to help them spread the word. It can be difficult for artists to get their work seen so we’ll do what we can to help promote them. We’ll also contribute with benefits/charities as best as we can. I curated a fairly massive art show earlier this year as part of a big benefit for our friend who needs help with medical bills. It’s taxing and time-consuming to contribute to things like this at times, but as long as I believe in the cause and there is an element of positivity at its core, I consider it an honor to try and help. 86 organizes a handful of events per year, whether they be holiday parties or days in the park where people play a bunch of games like dodge ball and kickball, and we always like to see new faces at them. We also help out quite a bit with the music scene. Everyone that lives at the house is a musician so we understand that any amount of assistance is appreciated. We’ll help book gigs, or let touring bands stay with us, or even host shows.
What’s your favorite piece in the 86 Gallery and how did you come to procure it?
I get asked this question quite a bit. It’s open to so many factors and can vary depending on whatever mood or mindset I’m in at the time, but the piece that I appreciate the most, and that really helped the gallery shift gears, is Eric White’s contribution. 86 began by displaying works by local artists as a way to help them gain some more exposure. At one point, I decided to take a chance and open it up to artists that I respected on a national level. Mr. White is my one of all-time favorite artists so I wrote him to tell him about what we have going on here and he was kind enough to do a piece for our home. Once his name was associated with us, other artists became more eager and excited about becoming involved with our house/gallery. In a way, if it weren’t for his contribution, we wouldn’t be where we are today. We owe him a ton of high-fives.
We hear some refer to you as “Bigfoot” and that you’re self-described as perpetually in need of a shave. What’s that all about?
I blame Sasquatchian genetics for my extra-follicular activity, hence the title. Also, there was a short-lived TV show in the 70’s called ‘Bigfoot and Wildboy’ and the title sequence is amazing. When it came time for Seth Pettersen (fellow Lomo Amigo) and me to pick a name for our Scavenger Hunt team, we chose Bigfoot and Wildboy because we felt it truly represented the essence of what we stand for. He’s a bit wild and I’m pretty hairy.
Your advice for soon-to-be Lomographers.
As obvious as it might seem, take your camera with you whenever you’re headed someplace that you think might offer some good photo opportunities. It isn’t going to do you any good sitting on your shelf. We host events and go to a ton of concerts, for example, so it has become second-nature to make sure we have our LC-A+ with us when we go out. Also, spend some time on the Lomography website, or any other Lomo blogs/forums. There are some really helpful ideas out there, especially for folks like me that don’t have a history with photography. There are plenty of innovative and inexpensive accessories (I just got a super keen Splitzer) that can help to make the whole experience more fun. Finally, just like my parents never told me, don’t be afraid to experiment. It’s the best way to get the feel for the Lomographic process and you’ll probably stumble upon techniques that have surprising results.
Take a closer look at Brook Dalton’s gallery below: