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Sullivan Goss announces a survey exhibition of California landscape paintings dating from 1879 to the present day.

From the beginning, California has conjured visions of utopia in the American imagination. It has been sold as a state for dreamers – those in pursuit of adventure, gold, arable land, fame, and abundant sunshine. During the Depression, people came for the jobs in farming and the movie business. After the War, they came for the jobs in aerospace and shipping. Later, they came for the jobs in computer technology. California has always been marketed as the state of the future. Everyone, it seems, wants a piece.

For much of its history, that promise seemed wrapped up in the land itself. California’s natural resources are as varied as they are abundant. In California, every ecology can be found – from the coast of Monterey that teems with seals and fish, to a Yosemite valley full of redwoods and awesome waterfalls, to valleys ready for crops. The landscapes in COLLECTING CALIFORNIA record a California that is both wild and full of potential as well as a place that suits our agriculture and leisure. Only two paintings in the exhibition make reference to human structures: Los Feliz, 1933 by Anders Aldrin (1889­1970) and Ortega Ridge, 1990 by Hank Pitcher (b. 1949). The first features the Griffith Observatory on a barren hillside. The second features dream houses overlooking the Pacific on Santa Barbara’s Ortega Ridge. These are structures of optimism═ż they look forward to a better tomorrow.

So it is that the California landscape has always been one of the state’s most valuable and beloved visual forms. Whole collections are dedicated to the California landscape and have been since the nineteenth century. To buy a California landscape, it seems, is to own a piece of the dream.


2:45 | Jeremy Tessmer

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