'I never thought I would leave the Bay Area,' Catherine Opie said one afternoon last December over a cappuccino at her studio. Opie, who was born in 1961, had moved from Ohio to San Diego with her family when she was 13. Later she moved north to attend the San Francisco Art Institute, and she liked it there. 'I was very happy about being queer and coming out and being a part of the leather community,' she continued. 'It seemed like LA couldn’t compare to what San Francisco offered me in the ’80s.'
The photographer was talking in her backyard, an idyllic area framed by avocado trees. She has lived in Southern California now for more than three decades, having ventured south in 1985, after getting her BFA at the San Francisco Art Institute to attend CalArts, in Valencia, which was a formative educational experience.