Coming Soon: Diane Meyer’s Beautiful Car-Free Portraits at the 18th Street Art Center
Diane Meyer’s photography show Without a Car in the World: 100 Car-less Angelinos Tell Stories of Living in Los Angeles runs October 17th through December 11th. It’s at the 18th Street Art Center, which is located at 1639 18th Street, in Santa Monica. The opening reception is Saturday October 17th from 7pm to 1opm.
is a photographer who teaches at Loyola Marymount University. A few
years ago she took the leap and became car-free. Over the past year,
Meyer has photographed a diverse group of 100 car-free Los Angeles
residents. Some of them are familiar to Streetsblog’s readers in green
transportation activist circles. These include Greensters Stephen and Enci Box, Green L.A. Girl Siel, BikeRoWave‘s Alex Thompson, various Eco-Village residents including founder Lois Arkin, Bicycle Kitchen‘s Joshua Moody, the L.A. County Bicycle Coalition‘s Allison Mannos, and others (even me.)
After the jump, view a sampling of Meyer’s photos and excerpts from her
own words about the exhibit. Mark your calendar to check out the
rest of Meyer’s work later this month.
"For the first 20 minutes after selling my Volkswagen Jetta to Car
Max, I was wracked with fear…and curiosity. Exactly how would I
navigate the city and do everything I need to do – in Los Angeles, of
all places! – without an automobile? My initial assumption that I could
rely on the car-sharing company Flex Car proved incorrect. The day
after I ditched my car, Flex Car announced that it would merge with
Zipcar, and would thereon only provide service to USC and UCLA. That
day also marked the arrival of a January storm and eight straight days
of rain. Hence, my belief that I would be able to get anywhere, at any
time, by bike seemed similarly misguided."
"What started as a temporary lifestyle adjustment, originally
planned for a few months at most, has freed me from any desire to own a
car ever again. The experience has also truly opened my eyes to the
joys of living in this city. While saving money, transcending traffic,
and reducing my environmental impact were easily anticipated benefits,
many unexpected benefits came from de-car-ing. I found that my life,
and what I could accomplish in a day, changed surprisingly little."
"I enjoy a palpable feeling of independence that comes from living
in Los Angeles without a car, but with the confidence that I can still
get absolutely anywhere."
"In July of 2008, I received a grant from the California Council for
the Humanities California Stories Fund to interview and photograph 100
other car-less Angelinos. My initial interest in the project came from
a desire to share resources and stories with other car-less people.
According to the 2000 Census, L.A. County residents are more than twice
as likely to have three or more cars than zero cars. When I gave up my
car, I only knew two other people who didn’t have cars, even though
L.A. County has the second-most-active bus system in the U.S., with a
daily ridership of almost 2 million people. To find participants, I
searched the Web, polled friends and friends of friends, put ads on
Craigslist, answered ads by car-less people in search of rides, wrote
to various transportation agencies, and approached strangers on the
"I met people from a wide range of backgrounds, socio-economic
levels, occupations, and heard an amazing range of reasons for not
driving. I met single moms, teachers, writers, consultants,
comediennes, actors, urban planners, computer programmers, analysts,
bakery workers, students, and unemployed. I met people whose physical
disabilities kept them off the road, and people who did not drive
because of firm ideologies about the detrimental effects of car
culture. Others had been in accidents, their cars had blown up, they
were afraid to drive, they lost their licenses after receiving a third
DUI, they preferred bicycles, or they were simply tired of spending so
much on a car."
"I hope that the stories recorded here will encourage others to
consider using their cars less, and to experiment with alternatives to
driving. I hope to see improved transportation options, and increased
mobility and access to the city. To that end, putting more riders on
the bus and more cyclists in the street will hasten needed
improvements. The 100 people featured in this project prove that the
city can be enjoyed, productive lives can be led, and lifestyles can be
maintained, even improved, without a car. At the same time, the
universal difficulties faced by car-less people clearly indicate that
Los Angeles has a long commute ahead."