Valley Vista

Valley Vista:
Art in the San Fernando Valley, ca. 1970-1990

by Damon Willick

with contributions by Mike Mandel, Robert Pavlik, Mark Van Proyen, Jeffrey Vallance, and Benjamin Weissman

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. Despite a population of more than 1.8 million living in a region that covers about 225 square miles, the Valley’s sheer size has not garnered the place much attention, especially when it comes to LA’s cultural history. The Valley’s artwork has been all but overlooked. Even in the much-heralded Pacific Standard Time initiative sponsored by The Getty, which incorporated exhibitions in more than 60 art organizations in the region, no exploration of art from the San Fernando Valley was featured. Could it be that Valley Standard Time is a zone of its own when it comes to art?

Valley Vista: Art in the San Fernando Valley, ca. 1970-1990 answers this question for the first time. The book—and the exhibition it catalogs—examines the art history of the Valley, looking beyond all stereotypes and offering an authoritative view of the region’s unique and substantial contribution to the contemporary art history of LA.

Author/curator Damon Willick not only documents the landmark 2014 exhibition at California State University, Northridge in the book—it’s also a treatise on the emergence of San Fernando Valley art, and it’s a lively, succinct narrative about the Valley as place.

Valley Vista, the exhibition curated by art historian Willick, focuses on the years between 1970 and 1990, a particularly fertile period for Valley artwork. The artists highlighted in Valley Vista flourished in the Valley, and they helped the Valley flourish. The Valley—as place—which includes its natural and built environments as well as its social structures and institutions—shaped the artists and the work Willick features, and these artists, in turn, shaped the place.

All the artists showcased are serious artists, but, as Willick points out, “some of them have not taken themselves so seriously.” Says Willick: “This may 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).” As a result, plein air oils appear in the pages of Valley Vista alongside Magic Marker drawings, steel sculptures are juxtaposed with plastics, dreamscapes, landscapes, and streetscapes with cartoons and comic books. All are carefully positioned to explain why the Valley is a place of its own, a place that inspires world-class art. The book tells—and the exhibition shows—why.

Artists include: Judith F. Baca, Bob Bassler, Esteban Bojorquez, Hans Burkhardt, Karen Carson, Lynn E. Coleman, Anne Connor, Fidel Danieli, John Divola, Dave Elder, Edie Ellis-Brown, Bruce Everett, Bruce Fier, Tom Fricano, Steve Galloway, Scott Grieger, June Harwood, Jeff Hilbers, Channa Horwitz, Ken Jones, Karla Klarin, Gary Lloyd, Mike Mandel, Barry Markowitz, Jerry McMillan, Michael C. McMillen, Joe Messinger, R. Mutt, Laurie O’Connell, Jeff Rankin, 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.

  • 144 pages
  • full color throughout
  • 100+ black-and-white and color images
  • 7.5" w x10" h
  • softcover with flaps; ISBN 978-1-62640-019-1; $25.00
$25.00 USD