It is sobering to think – looking at Ansel Adams' Surf Sequence , Grant Wood's dreamlike farmland in Spring Turning or the endless desert expanse of Frederick Remington's Fight for the Waterhole – that we have squandered the possibilities of the destiny manifested so many years ago.
The exhibition, through the works of the aforementioned artists and such synonymous modernists as Georgia O'Keeffe and Jackson Pollock, attempts to challenge the notion that Modernism was an East Coast phenomenon. However, as the exhibition catalogue and didactics make this abundantly clear, it paradoxically reminds us West Coasters that we still seem to be suffering from a cultural inferiority complex.
We are not New York, and we don't have the New York art scene or its pedigree. Not that we need to – just check out Los Angeles artist Tim Hawkinson's exhibition at The Getty or details of Ed Rucha's Incognito fundraiser that just happened at the Santa Monica Museum Of Art.
While the art will undoubtedly inspire a trip to Joshua Tree, the enlarged quotes on the exhibition's earth-tone walls (concerting nicely with the colors on the canvas) leave you equally proud to be an Angeleno. Maynard Dixon's “You can't argue with these desert mountains” remind us how inconsequential our Hollywood meetings are.
But it is a quote by Gottardo Piazzoni that encapsulates living on the Pacific Rim better than any Red Hot Chili Peppers' lyric. Asked, “What's your religion?” the artist responded: “I think it is California.” Amen.
LACMA is located at 5905 Wilshire Blvd., in Los Angeles. Museum Hours: Mon, Tues, Thurs noon-8 p.m., Fri noon-9 p.m., Sat-Sun 11 a.m.-8 p.m. For more information, call (323) 857-6000 or visit www.lacma.org.