This exhibition was presented at Gallery Luisotti in Santa Monica (11/11-1/7/01). It was a chance to put together artists whose work finds unlikely counterparts with one another and to expand the way we view the genre of landscape. Since exurbia originally designated a 60-mile radius from Manhattan, it would be great have a venue on the East Coast. I hope you will consider this proposal with favor.
“Exurbia” is a term coined by the writer A. C. Spectorsky in 1955 to describe the space between rural and suburban areas that was being developed by an upper income group (primarily “taste-makers” employed in communications) in an attempt to create a more exclusive and refined way of life than was found in the suburbs.
Exurbia was not an uninhabited wilderness, so its development included the strain between the old communities and the newcomers, the struggle between the physical and planned environments and styles of life. The clouds that appear in the pastoral, the American Dream, and the loss of Eden constitute the theme of this exhibition.
The artists in this show, from well-known to emerging, present ways of looking at our social landscape with varying media and points of view. These range from amusement and affection (Blum, Ess, Fiskin, Linhares, Linn, Wessel), analysis (Archer, Baltz), idealism (Bowling), bewilderment (Willmarth and Davis) and the necessary counterpoint to these, a sense of foreboding (Blair, Deutsch, Leavitt, Nelson, Lawson). Each work carries a more complex view, a bit of the other, so amusement undercuts foreboding, while paranoia overshadows beauty. Together they direct our attention to the states of mind that allow us to find ways to contemplate disenchantment.
Suburbia has been documented and analyzed into a cliché that highlights a self-satisfied isolation. It’s neighbor, exurbia, includes the anxiety of separation, an emotional connection to the city, just as the prefixes “ex” and “sub” indicate.
Exurbia is transitional; like art, it moves outward, settling blindly into existing communities with imperial disregard. Like landscape, it carries with it the desire for uncorrupted nature, a pre-industrial vision of a simpler life and simultaneously allows us the pleasure of analysis. Exurbia is a dream of a more perfect life. Without a sense of loss, there would be no comparator for perfection.