The Optimist’s Parking Lot exhibition is a meditation on the poetics of optimism, as examined and expounded upon through the lense of sculpture, painting, video, and mixed media by 22 Los Angeles based artists.
The Optimist's Parking Lot proposes a state of being that metaphorically draws upon the provisional or transitional status of this zone, which may be a stop within a journey, the location for a political sit-in, or possibly even one’s home. In this way, a parking lot is much like a gallery: A way station for art objects, and a zone for expectation, contemplation, deferment, anxiety, advocacy, and exaltation.
Optimism is, in fact, a noun. Common definitions of the word also often cite Gottfried Leibniz’s 17th century philosophy that the existing world is the perfect world as it was conceived through God the master architect. This notion has given way in the last four centuries to a humanist sensibility and, as embodied through artistic production, realizes phenomenological zones of self-empowerment. The decision to create, and the will to do depends upon a certain optimism—which may also be considered a utopian gesture. Inevitably, optimism evokes its counterpart, pessimism and dystopia. This expressed struggle is often enfolded into the various processes that transpire during the making of art, and may find its reification in the work’s formal aspects, or its manner of response to external conditions. How might the work acknowledge, filter, or avoid references to our larger contemporary context of economic malaise, corporate capitalism, geopolitical unrest, environmental catastrophes, and conservative social mandates? How might art help us better imagine our individual and collective futures? The relationship of form to content also brings about the question of whether art functions well as evidence of optimism or not. Can art be a more reliable indicator of the complexities of optimism than a smile or an upbeat spiel?
The poetics of The Optimist’s Parking Lot attempts to remind us of the multifaceted nature of optimism: the challenges of considering a sense of future and possibility--along with its potential detours, waiting, and endgames in the context of current events.