Inside his workshop in La Canada, artist Randy Hage recreates memories. Tiny, meticulous, three-dimensional works of art in the form of old storefronts from New York City.
"In the late '90s, I started photographing New York and began to become interested in storefronts, the old hand-painted signs, the decay, the fact that they were 'ma and pa' type shops," Hage said.
So even though Hage grew up in Orange County and lives in Los Angeles, he developed a love affair with New York. He recognized the charm and beauty that's usually only reserved for the people who come to these places.
"When they went into those shops, the shop owner knew who they were, knew who their kids were, greeted them, dealt with them in way that was like family," Hage said.
He starts with one of his photos and then recreates every detail, striving for perfection in showing imperfection. After months of work, it's difficult to tell Hage's work from the real place.
Most of these storefronts have disappeared in real life, so he's put together an exhibit called Fleeting Moments. All the money he raises at his art show goes to Children's Hospital Los Angeles to help combat children's brain cancer. It's a fund named after his daughter, 4-year-old Rachel Hage.
"She was amazing. She was what you would term someone with an old soul," Hage said.
"The thing about brain tumors is they'll grow and grow inside your head without any outward symptoms until they reach a critical mass, and when that happened, she started to fall down at home, AND so we took her in, and they did a CT, and they told us she had a baseball-sized tumor in her head," Hage said.
Rachel fought the disease for seven months before it took her, two months shy of her fifth birthday.
"It was devastating. It was like a nightmare," Hage said.
When talking about Rachel, Hage often takes long pauses, trying to maintain his composure. He admits that the pain never goes away.
"We take each day as it comes. Sometimes we're wearing masks. Sometimes we're hiding what's inside so that we can continue to exist in society and with our friends, but it's there every day," Hage said.
So here, Hage works, bringing back memories, precious fleeting moments, that, for a second, give us back something we so badly miss.
To donate to the fund:
The Rachel Ann Hage Neuro-Oncology Fund
Children's Hospital of Los Angeles
4650 Sunset Blvd., MS #54
Los Angeles, CA 90027
Attn: The Brain Tumors Program
For more information about Randy Hage's work, visit www.newyorkstorefronts.com. His show, Fleeting Moments, opens Saturday at the Flower Pepper gallery, 121 East Union Street, in Pasadena.