(AUG. 25-OCT. 11) Whether regaled as “America’s Suburb” or ridiculed as the capital of mini-malls and Valley Girls, the San Fernando Valley is one of Los Angeles’s most misunderstood and stereotyped areas. With a population of over 1.8 million and extending some 224 square miles, the Valley’s size has not garnered the region much attention in regards to LA’s cultural history. Valley Vista: Art in the San Fernando Valley, ca. 1970-1990 seeks to remedy this oversight by examining for the first time the unique contribution of the Valley to the city’s art history. The exhibition and its accompanying catalog look beyond the stereotypes, and, instead, offer an alternative narrative documenting the region’s unrecognized yet unique and substantial role in LA’s emergence as a center of contemporary art activity.
Curated by art historian Damon Willick, the exhibition focuses on the years between 1970 and 1990 as a particularly fertile period for art in the Valley. The artists highlighted in Valley Vista flourished in the Valley and did their part to make the Valley flourish. The Valley as place—which includes its natural and built environments as well as its social structures and institutions—shaped these artists and their work, and these artists, in turn, shaped the place. Many of the artists highlighted in the show are serious artists who have not taken themselves so seriously. Such an attitude might stem from the Valley’s conflicted identity as a suburban alternative to the city, an imagined Mayberry-utopian dream, that becomes distorted in the 1970s and 1980s, turning into the perverted flashpoint for the ills of the Southern California landscape (i.e., mini-malls, shopping centers, pollution, and traffic).
Artists in the exhibition include: Judith F. Baca, Bob Bassler, Esteban Bojorquez, Hans Burkhardt, Karen Carson, Lynn E. Coleman, Fidel Danieli, John Divola, Dave Elder, Edie Ellis-Brown, Bruce Everett, Bruce Fier, Tom Fricano, Steve Galloway, Scott Grieger, June Harwood, Jeff Hilbers, James Hugunin (Dumb Ox), Channa Horwitz, Ken Jones, Karla Klarin, Gary Lloyd, Mike Mandel, Barry Markowitz, Jerry McMillan, Michael C. McMillen, Joe Messinger, R. Mutt, Stuart Rapeport, Stephen Seemayer, Ed Sievers, Rena Small, C.R. Stecyk III, Jon Swihart, Steve Thomsen, Michael Uhlenkott, Jeffrey Vallance, Robert E. von Sternberg, Benjamin Weissman, Robert Williams, and Suzanne Williams.
The exhibition catalog is written by Damon Willick with contributions from Mike Mandel, Robert Pavlik, Mark Van Proyen, Jeffrey Vallance, and Benjamin Weissman and is published by Angel City Press.