On Thursday, Jan. 17, Manhattan photographer Patrick O’Dell sent a message to his friends on MySpace urging them to come to the opening of his first solo exhibit.
“I have a fear this is going to be like my birthday or whenever else I invite everyone I know to something and like 4 people show up…I’ve already had bad dreams about it,” he wrote.
On the contrary, Mr. O’Dell’s opening Saturday night at Fuse Gallery, which is housed in the back of the cave-like East Village bar Lit, on 2nd Avenue, turned out to be a generously attended affair. A mixed crowd of downtown hipsters and art patrons snaked through the 33-piece photo exhibit, sipping on bottles of Bud and Red Stripe as actor Leo Fitzpatrick, a friend of Mr. O’Dell’s, spun classic ‘80s records.
Part of Mr. O’Dell’s anxiety, he had told The Observer the previous day, stemmed from the fact that the turnout at his last opening, a joint-show with photographer Angela Boatwright, wasn’t so great. That show was in Paris, and since Mr. O’Dell doesn’t really know anyone in France, not many people came, he said.
Here in New York, and in fact much of the country, Mr. O’Dell, 30, has become quite well known, most recently as the photo editor of Vice, where he now hosts his own documentary skateboard show for the magazine’s online television network, vbs.tv. His portfolio includes shoots for Chloe Sevingy and Chan Marshall (Cat Power), both friends of his.
But perhaps most people know Mr. O’Dell for his widely popular photo blog, Epicly Later’d, upon which his exhibit at Fuse is based. Surprisingly, many of the images that feature prominently on the blog – pro-skaters, inebriated late night party scenes at Max Fish and Sway, and Morrissey concerts (Mr. O’Dell, a rabid fan, had featured enough of them on his Web site that the iconic British crooner’s manager asked him to film parts of Morrissey’s U.S. tour this past fall) – are absent from the show.
Instead, Mr. O’Dell said it focuses on traveling and “the weirder images” he’s captured. Pictures of his friends laughing or splashing around in the ocean. Snow gently falling on a bicycle. Homemade tattoos. It’s the kind of exhibit where a picturesque shot of two horses crossing a Montana highway doesn’t seem odd next to one of a chubby Kentucky man sprawled out on his bed with a massive collection of Barbie dolls stacked up to the ceiling.
At the opening, the crowd was receptive. But laying low in a narrow hallway between the gallery and the bar, a tall and clean-shaven Mr. O’Dell, wearing jeans and a blue-striped button down with the sleeves rolled up, said he still felt anxious.
“Everyone’s saying they like it,” he said. “But would they tell me if they didn’t?”
Epicly Later’d is on display through Feb. 16 at Fuse Gallery, 93 2nd Ave. (between 5th and 6th streets)