Waiting for a Savior by Eric M Cwiertny

Eric M Cwiertny, an O.C. photog and ad man, on what compels him to DTLA to document its former cinema queens and much more.

AFLW: You work in advertising in Orange County and take high-level surfing photos. What inspires you to trek to photograph the historic theaters on Broadway in downtown Los Angeles?

Eric M Cwiertny: I love the detail of the buildings. I love that they’re there, that I have the opportunity to see them. For the people who designed them, like S. Charles Lee, who designed the Los Angeles Theatre, there was a love of detail, of ornamentation, that went into each building. Going to that area helps me relive a time when there was character, detail and design, and care was taken for the way things were built architects thought about where decorative details might go.

My heart goes back to a time when things were a little more fancy, more “old school” than modern. It was a different mindset, when every detail was important. And it looks great in photos.

AFLW: There seems to be a sense of sadness that comes through in your images. Does this express how you feel about Los Angeles?

EMC: I worry a lot that this is a race against time. For the most part, I go down there and see the disrepair and, whether it’s a layer of grime or some missing neon, a broken letter here or there, it does sadden me because with just a little TLC these beautiful structures could be right back where there were when they first made them, some nearly 100 years ago.  

AFLW: How do you feel this sense of anguish relates to our issue theme of love/hate in L.A.?

With a little bit of love, these theatres can come back, bring enjoyment, and help others explore their love for the arts and really bring that thriving Broadway community back. There is a lot of longing and yearning that people share for the area. I share that love. So I take pictures of what I love and try to convey to those feelings. Maybe in some small way it helps keep the ball rolling.

Eric M Cwiertny. Ad agency owner, creative director, editor and photographer. California native. Avid traveler who enjoys exploration and creating new adventures. Lover of vintage architecture, art and culture.