by Rachel Smith
Hard boys and bad girls rumbled their way through the streets of Pomona Saturday evening to the Andi Campognone Projects Gallery where the photography exhibit “Hard Boys + Bad Girls” by Thomas McGovern was featured.
McGovern’s stars, from the School of Hard Knocks, mingled and autographed images for the adoring fans that came to meet their favorite wrestlers and take a deeper look into the wrestling world McGovern brought to life.
“The wrestling is authentic, incredibly athletic. The blood is real, real injuries and very intense,” McGovern said. “They dream of being a superstar.”
The wrestlers of McGovern’s photography exhibit and book are true athletes that work real life jobs by day and fight for their dreams by night. McGovern was able to capture the authentic struggle and fight in each athlete.
“It’s real life, happening right now,” Amy Contreras, photography enthusiasts and San Juan Capistrano resident said. “I love these images, they are incredible.”
Andi Campognone, gallery owner and artist, rolled out the red carpet for McGovern and his wrestling superstars. The fans were able to walk the red carpet and take photos with their favorite wrestlers and McGovern. Campognone has worked closely with McGovern over the past few years.
McGovern had surgery five weeks prior to the big event and was not able to assist Campognone with the installation of his exhibit. That evening he was only able to see the exhibit and the final layout.
“I love the layout,” McGovern said. “Andi is fantastic and it was easy to hand it all over to her to do.”
The wrestlers got a kick out of seeing themselves on the walls of the gallery.
“The pictures are amazing,” said Yyan Nakano, a female wrestler from the School of Hard Knocks who has 30 matches under her belt. “It’s strange to see me up there.”
Nakano has been training for more than five years and fell in love with wrestling back in 1980s when she first saw women’s wrestling on television.
David the Bruiser has been wrestling for over nine years and described the real injuries he sustained while rumbling in the ring.
“I dislocated my shoulder and cracked about all of my ribs,” the Bruiser said.
McGovern who is originally from New York came to California in 1997. He graduated from Cal State Fullerton with a master’s of fine art degree in 2000. McGovern is now a professor at Cal State San Bernardino and manages the graduate photography program.
“Students flock to his classes and his opinion is sought after,” Richard Johnston, fellow Cal State San Bernardino professor said of McGovern. “He is well respected.”
McGovern began shooting photos of the wrestlers in 2000 through 2005.
He stumbled upon the School of Hard Knocks while riding his bike through his San Bernardino neighborhood. He wanted to document these amazing individuals that worked so hard to achieve their dreams.
Rachel Smith can be reached at firstname.lastname@example.org.