The Surreal Housewives

A local photographer takes a playful approach to domestic bliss with her new exhibition.

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    Darren Elms

Southbay contributing photographer Monica Orozco had no idea a routine editorial assignment for the magazine would one day lead to an exhibition featuring her own work. “I was asked to photograph Joe Baker, who had just begun his role as the new director of the Palos Verdes Art Center (PVAC),” she recalls. “After our shoot, I asked Joe if I could include him in my Photo of the Day series. He said yes, and from that moment on he has been the greatest friend and supporter of my photography.”

This budding relationship led to a unique opportunity for Monica to stage a series of shots at the Marrakesh Country Club home that was recently raffled off by the PVAC. Smitten with her images, Joe unexpectedly gave Monica his blessing to feature her own work on the walls of the art center in conjunction with the upcoming exhibition on fashion photographer Mark Shaw.

The work Monica plans to exhibit will all come from her ongoing Photo of the Day, a self-portrait project three years in the making. “This ‘labor of love’ assignment has taught me two major lessons,” she shares. “Do what you love, and don’t be afraid to ask people for help.”

Some of that assistance came from a friend displaying wigs by stylist Eusebio Aynaga. “I knew that I would love to use them and was very fortunate that Eusebio, after looking at some of my images, was willing to collaborate with me,” she says. Inspired by the Palm Desert home built by Hollywood Regency architect John Elgin Woolf, Monica took further inspirational cues from the designer’s ‘50s and ‘60s heyday, playfully riffing on the vibrant color schemes and fashionable modern interiors.

Feverishly retouching the final photos on her computer, Monica can’t help getting a little emotional about the opportunity. “I get all teary-eyed over here and smear mascara all over my keyboard! I feel like the luckiest person alive.”

View Monica’s work alongside Mark Shaw: Glamour at Palos Verdes Art Center from October 15 through November 29.