Pomona-birthed Edward Colver is an artist, a keen chronicler of chaos in the style of Hieronymus Bosch and Sandro Botticelli, only without the depictions of heaven and God and angels mucking about. But hell? Yeah, that’s pretty much dead-on. Hell to me, anyway—at least that’s what looks like is going on in many of his audience photographs snapped during the heady days of the late-70s/early-‘80s LA punk scene. In frame after frame, there are orgies of sweaty flesh, twisted and bent in all kinds of directions, as if Colver snapped them while in the middle of the swirling mosh pit (which I’m sure he often was—how else could he have gotten those shots?). The cover of Colver’s book, Blight at the End of the Funnel, perfectly shows his knack for capturing the perfect image: a young, stage-diving punker, caught midair, somersaulting into the crowd. (Did they catch him, or let him splatter? Who knows, but the kid probably grew up to be a corporate lawyer.)
Then there are the bands he captured in their prime, both in performance and publicity shots—Black Flag, Fear, Bad Religion, the Germs, tons of others (Colver’s shot over 200 album covers). Like Dorothea Lange and her photos of migrant farm families, Colver happened to be in the right place during the right era, preserving all the rage, scowling, spitting, fuck-you glares and bleeding naked torsos. History, sure, but the Blight book shows Colver couldn’t live on punk alone, as his later work with assemblages and portraits prove—and, like his punk shots, they’re just as startling and revelatory (note the NOW PLAYING movie kiosk with the American flag underneath—over a Nazi flag that announces COMING SOON). That’s one thing about Colver—the man’s never played it safe. (Rich Kane)
Edward Colver signs copies of Blight at the End of the Funnel at Doctor Strange Records, 7136 Amethyst Ave., Alta Loma, (909) 944-1778; www.drstrange.com. Sun., 2 p.m. Special in-store performance by the Billybones. Free. All Ages.