With great sadness, Metro Art shares the news of the passing of artist Tony Gleaton. His 2003 artwork at Sierra Madre Villa Station in Pasadena depicts several area residents in the form of large photographic portraits. Suspended some 15 feet above the stairways leading down to the station platform, this untitled series of blue-toned portraits is presented on porcelain enamel steel panels. Capturing a connecting glance, warm embrace or familiar emotion, Gleaton’s expertly crafted photographs create a sense of intimacy between the viewer and subjects.
Gleaton was best known for photographing African American rodeo riders and Native American ranch hands in the West and the African diaspora across Latin America. His black-and-white documentary-style portraits were widely seen through a Smithsonian traveling exhibit, entitled, “Africa’s Legacy in Mexico.” A Los Angeles Times obituary quotes Gleaton: “I always wanted to do beauty pictures of black folks,” Gleaton told The Times in 1991 when his work was shown at the Watts Towers Art Center. “Whites have always had their Renoirs and their Matisses…. What I do is make my own culture look beautiful, and in doing that I become more beautiful myself.”
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