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Valley Vista: Art in the San Fernando Valley ca. 1970 – 1990
CSU Northridge Art Gallery, Northridge, California
Recommendation by Diane Calder


Jeffrey Vallance, “Oscar Mayer Weiner Mascot Meetings,” photograph, 1974.

Continuing through October 11, 2014

Former CSU Northridge faculty member Peter Plagens wrote “Sunshine Muse,” purportedly the earliest publication to introduce Southern California art into the New York-centric history of American modernism, in 1974. Forty years later, the focus narrows with “Valley Vista: Art in the San Fernando Valley ca. 1970 – 1990,” a long overdue overview of the stereotyped San Fernando Valley’s under-recognized role in L A’s emergence as a center of contemporary art activity. Curator and art historian Damon Willick welcomes personal remembrances from the likes of Jeffrey Vallance, Benjamin Weissman and Mark Van Proyen, enhancing his astute examination of roles played by the Orlando and R Mutt galleries, mini malls, LAICA, CSUN and L.A. Valley College faculty and students in the generously illustrated companion book he has authored.

The exhibition itself is energized by its diversity. Vallance’s fascination with the Oscar Mayer Wiener Mascot meets Michael MacMillen’s dusty Mystery Museum. Karen Carson’s smoldering beds suggest a feminist’s viewpoint alongside Jon Swihart’s mystifying “Untitled (CSUN Tool Guy).” A delicate, logically derived construction by Channa Horwitz makes Fidel Danieli’s “Portrait of Peter Lodato” all the more darkly dramatic. Conceptual photographer John Divola’s high contrast black and white images of Valley women watering their lawns foretell the sprawl of domesticity that will inevitably edge into the wide open, rugged hillsides so convincingly portrayed by Bruce Everett in “Sand Canyon Road.” Visitors willing to let Jerry McMillan’s “Untitled Torn Bag (Porch)” act as a stimulus to look beyond the conventional will be rewarded by what they find.


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