The “valley girl,” like the Valley itself, cannot be contained in a stereotype. However, it can be argued that any Valley Girl’s sense of self has been informed by the cinematic ideal imposed on them. In fact, with little effort one can see that the “valley girl” has left an indelible mark on the global identity of womanhood while only representing a small minority. This exhibition endeavors to look past the myopic lens of popular culture that created the “valley girl” and delve into the true identities and diversity of Women in the Valley through the contemporary artwork they produce.
A new exhibit at the Brand Library and Art Center has been causing quite a buzz in the L.A. Art scene. This exhibit includes artists such as the famous Judy Baca, Rachel Apthorp, and Christina Ramos.
Ever since the 1983 film, the stereotype of a valley girl has been pretty distinguishable. For example, saying “like” after every other word and being noticeably white while doing so. But in this exhibit, you learn that it is not all about that. It gives you a glimpse at the many diverse stories that these contemporary artists have to tell, from growing up in the barrios of the valley, to making a place your new home.
One of the special highlighted pieces in the exhibit is the 1975 portraits of Judy Baca by filmmaker Donna Deitch. In these, Judy projects the Pachuca character that she so feared from her childhood growing up in Pacoima. “Walking with their arms linked in full makeup, ‘ratted hair’ and ‘raccoon eyes’, the girls commanded the streets and the school yard of Pacoima Junior High School where I went to school.” She mentions whenever people saw them, they would step aside because they represented the image of powerful, dangerous women, which she so much aspired to be. The reason she chose these pieces was because the “Pachuca” is a woman of color from Pacoima, who is the counter narrative to the “Valley Girl”.
Another series of paintings that you’ll find within the exhibit are the paintings by our very own Acrylics instructor, Christina Ramos. In her artist statement, she talks about her experience growing up in Sunland. “I was surrounded by horses and other livestock,” she mentions, “I think people always associate the Valley with the city of suburbs, when in fact there is a lot more rural areas on the outskirts of the town.” In the painting above, her daughter and her chicken, Frida, can be seen painted in profile, mirroring the master painting Whistler’s Mother (1871) by James Whistler, which hangs on the wall in the background.
You can catch this exhibition running from January 26 – March 22, 2019 at the Brand Library & Art Center, 1601 W Mountain St, Glendale, CA 91201. There is also a Pop Up ZINE Newsstand curated by San Fernando Valley Zine Fest, featuring over 30 zines with Valley-centric, female-centric, and intersectional content.