Friday, February 12, 2010

Did You Know :: Penelope Gottlieb: No $ Down

Penelope Gottlieb: No $ Down


Penelope Gottlieb was born in Los Angeles and grew up next to the infamous housing development, Mt. Olympus. She received her BFA from Art Center College of Design and her MFA from UC – Santa Barbara. Her work has been exhibited in numerous galleries as well as the Krannert Art Museum. Her work is represented in the permanent collections of the Los Angeles County Museum of Art, 21c Museum, the Drawing Center New York, the Art Institute of Chicago, and numerous corporate collections, including the Fannie Mae Corporation.

Text Panel
For nearly a decade, Penelope Gottlieb has worked to produce a series of drawings that examine the archetypal American dream of home ownership, while also exploring the idea of the house as a status symbol, marker of class identity, and focal point of desire. In NO $ DOWN, Gottlieb’s colored-pencil drawings catalogue frontal views of popular domestic architecture. From storybook homes and tract houses to traditional bungalows and numerous other architectural styles, Gottlieb offers an artistic response to the complex and evolving narrative of real estate in America.

To create her drawings, Gottlieb scours newspaper ads and real estate magazines, seizing on small photographs of houses, which become the inspiration for her finely-detailed, monochromatic renderings—some of which are based on advertisements published in Reno-area newspapers that Gottlieb collected during a recent trip to northern Nevada. Once Gottlieb completes a work, she matches it with a vintage “fixer-upper” frame, which she then elaborately “refurbishes” and paints to match the correlating drawing. This process wryly mimics the act of “flipping” houses that was common during the real estate boom of the last decade.

Gottlieb’s installation of No $ Down also includes a selection of white-washed furniture based on interiors from popular television sitcoms such as The Beverly Hillbillies and The Jeffersons. Both of these television programs implicitly linked class status with home ownership, and Gottlieb’s inclusion of these items draws attention to that complex phenomenon. Contemporary perceptions of home ownership, Gottlieb acknowledges, have changed dramatically over the past year due to America’s economic downturn. On a final wall of the gallery, Gottlieb hangs a wall of souvenir glass plates, each imprinted with an image of a single family home. These delicate plates encourage viewers to reflect on the American Dream of home ownership—a dream that has recently proven to be more fragile than ever.

Tour Framework

  • Ask guests (especially children!) to find a drawing of a house that reminds them of their own home or the home of someone they know.
  • Ask guests to look at the titles of the works—where do the titles of Penelope Gottlieb’s works come from?
  • Explain that Gottlieb’s drawings consider the implications of the housing boom, banking fiascos, and history of the idea of the American Dream of home ownership.
  • Explain that although resonant because of their subject matter in today’s economy, the works are also related to art historical precedents, including photorealism and especially the paintings of Robert Bechtle; later painting by artists such as Darlene Campbell and Salomón Huerta; and the photography of such artists as Joe Deal, Henry Wessel, Rondal Partridge, Robert Adams, Robert Isaacs, Robert Dawson, Laurie Brown, Fandra Chang and Jeff Brouws.
  • Ask guests about how they think the dream of home ownership is tied to the “American Dream.”
  • Ask guests about their thoughts regarding the current economic downturn and how the spate of home foreclosures in Nevada is effecting the “American Dream” and the “dream of home ownership.”