The Gold Rush and dot-com boom urged many opportunistic, desperate, and hopeful Americans to take a gamble and venture west to try their hands at prospecting and entrepreneurship. While some '49ers and dot-commers did accumulate vast amounts of wealth, most did not. These eras live on in our collective memories as Americans hoping to strike it big as a result of luck, perseverance, or gall. The legacies of the Gold Rush and dot-com boom have shaped the general character of the West Coast and informed the practice and strategies of many artists.
While the nine artists in Gold Rush embody the audacity, inventiveness, fortitude, and at times recalcitrance that are part of the Western ethos, our current economic crisis has created a new context that challenges optimism and industriousness. Our current economic crisis, like those of past (e.g., the Dutch Tulip Bubble, the US Great Depression, and the South Sea Bubble) has created a malaise, anxiety, and scrutiny about our expectations, desires, and priorities. In a moment when we are less confident, and some may say less egotistical, the art world is responding in ever more inventive ways.
Gold Rush: Artist as Prospector seeks to address the pioneering spirit and moxie that is mythologized in the American West. This show examines how contemporary artists find, organize, and select materials and experiences to intervene in, or disrupt the banal to mine moments and transform the everyday.