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G. Colton Flea Market

Joel Levinson's '70s-era photography inspires a weekend bazaar at the LA store

by Julie Wolfson in Culture on 22 March 2013

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About six months ago, Garrett Colton of G. Colton (formerly Standard Goods) discovered the photography of Joel D. Levinson. Colton—who fills his Los Angeles store with new designs alongside vintage objects, magazines and books—was taken with the images in Levinson's book "Fleamarkets," which reveals an intimate look at California's flea market culture of the mid-1970s.

Now Colton has planned a flea market of his own this weekend inside his LA outpost. Up for grabs will be an assortment of clothing, home goods, books, art and accessories alongside an exhibition of Levinson's photographs. Levinson also found six copies of the out-of-print book dating back to 30 years ago, which will sell for $75, as well as 25 copies of a 1982 poster for $45. The photographs from "Fleamarkets" will set the tone for this one-off second-hand sale, but they will also be available for purchase, with prices spanning $2,500-$3,500.

"Some of the flea market images were either collaborations or willing portraits," says Levinson of his approach to his subjects. "In others, the subject was never aware that they were being photographed and it's fairly easy, upon viewing, to know which is which. I did not wish to reduce my subjects to black and white simplicities. I wanted to describe the people's relationships to each other and the objects they bought, sold or were interested in, all in the most illuminating way possible."

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Levinson credits the effort of his childhood teachers who exposed students to the topic of diversity. "Throughout my primary education, I learned about the cultures and races of my country, melting down into one homogenous entity. The California flea markets are the place where I saw this concept most brilliantly in practice. Before visiting them, I had never seen a place where blacks, whites, asians and latinos held such a casual camaraderie and carefree acceptance of each other. This social situation was what first attracted me to photographing the flea markets."

Colton especially loves the dressing room box image. "The subject is what every person imagines a Southern California girl to look like, and I like the creativity used by the vendor to allow his customers to try clothing on." Colton will continue to go to flea markets and cherish the jewels he finds there. "I have a painting from the early '70s of a girl on a skateboard. Surprisingly, my wife likes it, so we have hanging up it in our place," he says.

The G. Colton flea market will run from 9AM-5PM on Sunday, 24 March 2013. Luckily for those outside of LA, the books and posters will be available in the G. Colton web store, and the exhibition photographs can also be purchased by calling the store at +1.323.965.0600.

Images by Levinson courtesy of G. Colton

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