The San Fernando Valley is a Strange and Beautiful Place

An exhibition at CSUN features stunning art from the other side of the hill

The San Fernando Valley sometimes gets a bad rap as a cultural backwater, devoted to little besides strip malls and suburban sprawl. Valley Vista: Art in the San Fernando Valley, ca. 1970-1990 at CSUN aims to remedy that. Curated by Loyola Marymount University art historian Damon Willick, the exhibition, which opened yesterday and runs through October 11, documents the Valley’s art scene beginning in the 1970s. The show kicks off on Saturday, September 6 at 4 p.m. with a reception that’s open to the public.

There’s more to the Valley than mini-marts and freeway overpasses. Artists and photographers including John Divola, Karla Klarin, Mike Mandel, Rena Small, Jon Swihart, and Jeffrey Vallance have explored the 818 from a variety of vantage points. From a self-portrait in front of an army of police officers (Mike Mandel) and a shot of the iconic Wienermobile parked on the side of the road (Vallance) to pseudo religious self-portraits (Jon Swihart) and Matisse-inspired Polaroid vignettes (Rena Small), Valley Vista introduces viewers to the Valley’s throbbing creative heart.

In the meantime check out five facts you may not know about the Valley.

❶ The San Fernando Valley is named for King Ferdinand of Spain who colonized the region in the late eighteenth-century.

❷ Child star Corey Feldman and auteur Paul Thomas Anderson were born and raised in the Valley.

❸ Arguably the most famous house on TV, the home in The Brady Bunch, is located on 11217 Dilling St. in Studio City. The Bradys haven’t lived there for decades, so don’t go knocking on the door.

❹ It’s a commonly held belief that the California gold rush in 1848 was triggered by the discovery of gold at Sutter’s Mill in Coloma, but gold was actually first discovered in California six years earlier in the San Fernando Valley.

❺ The famous mural the Great Wall of Los Angeles is, confusingly enough, located in Valley Glen in the Valley. At 2,500 feet it’s the longest such mural in the world.