This proved to be true, and there was certainly a nostalgic element to my delight in "Valley Vista." The Valley was its own hotbed of creative activity back in the day when Los Angeles was still on the cusp of recognition as an important center for contemporary art. In fact, it was Lloyd's 1971 solo show at Orlando Gallery in the Valley that first inspired me to start writing about art. "Valley Vista" is a great documentation of that activity, reminding us that the art world can be unkindly selective in those it chooses to celebrate instantaneously and soon forget; and those who manage to maintain, some even enhance their reputation.
There are fine paintings in the show: Bruce Everett's huge, magnificent photo-realist "Sand Canyon," Fidel Daneli's portrait of fellow artist Peter Lodato, Karla Klarin's impressive 3-D construction painting, "Valley View"...
|Karla Klarin, Valley View, 1984|
acrylic on 3-D construction, 30" x 60"
(All images reprinted with permission of CSUN Art Galleries)
Despite the inclusion of these--and indeed many other accomplished, more conventional works--the majority of the artworks in "Valley Vista" are cheerfully subversive, reminding us of the pervasive influence of conceptualism at the time. The assemblages of Esteban Bojorquez, the photographs of Robert E. Von Sternberg, John Divola...
|John Divola, San Fernando Valley (I hate you), 1971|
Gelatin silver photograph, 14" x 18"
Subversion--whether political, social or aesthetic--is the keynote of "Valley Vista." While serious in intent, we can be grateful that much of it is light-hearted and light-handed. I walked around with a big grin on my face, a frequent chuckle, and an occasional burst of laughter. Consider, for example, Mike Mandel's prescient "selfies"--four decades before the iPhone came along--posing his skinny, long-haired hippie self in front of a long line of cops in riot gear at an anti-Vietnam war protest...
|Mike Mandel, Myself: Timed Exposure (CSUN War Protest, 1971)|
Gelatin silver print, 8" x 10"
|Scott Grieger, Impersonations: John McCracken, 1971/2000|
Photo on canvas, 23.75" x 35.5"
|Jeffery Vallance, b & w photo included as an element in the mixed media work,|
Oscar Mayer Wiener Mascot Meetings with Drawing, 1974
|Stuart Rapeport, The Right Tool for the Job, 1968-72|
Found aluminum attaché case with seven expressive brushes
(courtesy of the artist)
A fine catalogue accompanies "Valley Vista," with a text by the exhibition's curator, Loyola Marymount art history professor Damon Willick and contributions by some of the artists included in the show--all of which give useful context to the time and place mentioned above. One quibble: why no page references in the checklist of artworks at the back? An annoyance to anyone, like myself, who needs to constantly leaf through to find the images he's looking for. Ah, well. As they say, you can't have everything...