/01 The Lure of the Sea

Alex Fradkin

The Left Coast: California on the Edge

The 1100 mile coastline of California is a place of extremes, environmentally, socially and in its geologic variation. These features make this place both emblematic and difficult to define. “Along the narrow strip that contains most of the state’s population there are extremes of natural beauty and industrial wastelands, of wealth and poverty, and of such uses as surfing and missile launching”. It is a place whose name was originally derived from the myth of a 16th century Spanish novel that locates the island of Califia very near the “the Terrestrial Paradise”. For some it is indeed a paradise, for others it is something far less.

For the next few years, these are some disparate elements that will be explored and investigated in both large format photographs and the writings of my father, Philip Fradkin. Having now written nine books on the American West, his first book was titled California: The Golden Coast, published in 1974 by Viking Press. Many of my earliest memories were formed when my father often took me with him while researching the project. This time, 35 years later, we will be traveling sometimes together and often apart as we investigate areas of individual and common interests. For my Dad, it is a place that is imbued with memory and reflection while keeping a wary eye on what is to come. For myself, it is an environment careening towards an uncertain future and a past that is too often forgotten.

The Left Coast: California on the Edge, will be published and released in book form by the University of California Press in the Spring of 2010.