Several years ago, curators from museums in San Diego, San Francisco, Seattle, and Vancouver began laying plans for an ambitious survey show of West Coast art, the first of its kind. In selecting artists for the show, curators put special emphasis on finding contemporary work that reflected in some way the particular culture and geography of the west. The resulting exhibit, Baja to Vancouver, is having its premiere at the Seattle Art Museum. Here with our review is KUOW art critic, Gary Faigin.
In one respect, the curators who assembled Baja to Vancouver have clearly succeeded. What is conventionally thought of as West Coast — and more particularly Southern California - culture comes across loud and clear, for better or worse. There are works that focus on film and sports celebrities, pop stars and music videos. There are various takes on surfing, glamour, and even the pornographic movie industry of the San Fernando Valley. The Andy Warhol of Southern California art, Ed Ruscha, is everywhere in evidence, earnestly imitated by at least three of the participants, and in the back of the minds of many more.