The title of a new Sparks Gallery exhibition, David Wing: A San Diego Retrospective , implies the work of Wing is the subject of the retrospective. Wing has been photographing the city and its people for more than 40 years. During a visit to his beautiful Ocean Beach home and studio, however, the photographer is quick to point out it's the city that's being surveyed.
"I have so many photos that I keep finding these themes whenever I'm looking through them," Wing says, when asked why cityscape and architecture photographs make up roughly half the exhibition. "I'm not trying to make San Diego look like any other city. It's really simpler than that. I'm saying these buildings have character."
It's tempting to call Wing a landscape photographer, even if none of the pictures on display would be typically categorized as such.
He's certainly done his fair share of landscape photography. Back in 2006, he showcased some of his more scenic work in a solo show at the David Zapf Gallery called Travelers' Advisories and Unlikely Stories . A few years before that, he published a book of stunning desert shots titled Death Valley: The Ambiguous Landscape . The pictures soon to be on the walls of the Sparks Gallery show—which opens Friday, Oct. 2 from 6 to 9 p.m. and runs through Dec. 6—were shot in the late '70s and early '80s. They are not of striking vistas or alien terrains but could still be considered landscape photography. They reveal the fluctuating nature of San Diego. From the skyline and the buildings, to the beaches and the people, Wing's photos demonstrate how San Diego's landscape has always been mercurial.
"The show leaps from architecture to inhabitive architecture to open spaces," says Wing, who has lived in San Diego since the mid-'60s and has been shooting on the same Leica 35mm camera for much of that time. Much of the "open spaces" pictures are of San Diego beaches in the '70s. When asked what he hopes people will see when looking at these pictures from the past, his response is delightfully reasoned.
"I hope they pay attention to the time now ,' Wing says. "I would hope they see these moments and think, 'this change is happening all the time.' You don't need a camera to be sensitized to these moments."
La Jolla, Four Figures in Surf, 1978
Fiesta Island, Over-the-Line, 1977
San Diego, Serviceman's View, 1985
San Diego, Union-Tribune Building, 1985