If you've been drinking beer at events in Los Angeles lately, you've probably seen Bernie Wire, the friendliest man in the room and the only one toting a Canon 5D Mark II on a 10-foot-tall monopod. Maybe he's asked you to pose for a photo, which he then individually edited and uploaded onto his Friends of Local Beer Facebook page. The angle, exposure and coloring on it inevitably looked so cool that you probably made it your profile picture.
For the last three years, Wire has been the unofficial photo-documentarian of L.A.'s growing beer scene, showing up at events as big as the L.A. Beer Week kickoff festival and as small as a tap takeover at City Tavern, snapping shots of the brewers, fans and, of course, beverages that make drinking beer in this city so great.
But Wire isn't just your everyday club photographer turned loose on the beer community. Last year, Mohawk Bend hung prints of his most timeless human-featuring images on the exposed-brick walls of the Ramona Room for a show appropriately called “I Shoot Beer People.” Tonight, his next exhibition will open to the public — 10 powerful aluminum-printed photographs that remove the human element so present in most of his shots.
The show, titled “Drink the Beer You Love – Love the Beer You Drink,” is Wire's ode to everything he's captured about L.A. beer outside of an event setting.
“I didn't want to do 'I Shoot Beer People 2,'” he says. “The event work is event work. It's like flowers – they're beautiful for two weeks, then they die off and you really don't care about it.”
So instead of culling more posed images from the 350-plus events he's attended over the last few years, Wire selected artistic photos from his personal collection and screened most of them on 24×36-inch pieces of specially coated aluminum. Not only is aluminum the same material that is used to make beer cans but it's also an ideal medium for making colors pop and giving the entire image incredible luminescence.
Wire's resulting vibrant prints for his current exhibition include stark, still-life photos of fresh hops, stainless-steel brewhouses, rows of amber beer bottles and brewpub interiors. Because the show opens on Veterans Day, Wire decided to donate $100 from each print sold to Wounded Warrior Project, which helps injured veterans and their families.
“The tangible experience of viewing that print on a wall versus your monitor is a completely different experience,” Wire says. “You can get involved with the image in a completely different way. It's always great to have your work seen in this format. It gives people a whole other appreciation for it.”
“Drink the Beer You Love – Love the Beer You Drink” opens Tuesday, Nov. 11, at 5:30 p.m., and runs through the end of December at Mohawk Bend, 2141 Sunset Blvd., Echo Park.