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Creating the Future

Art and Los Angeles in the 1970s

List Price: $26.00

September 9, 2014 | Hardcover | 6 x 9, 400 Pages | ISBN 9781619023437
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“…[A] fresh, kinetic narrative... Fallon’s delving insights into Los Angeles’ artistic synergy within an adept synthesis of place, biography, art, technology, and social movements makes for exciting and invaluable fill-in-the-gaps art history.” —Booklist Starred Review

Conceived as a challenge to long-standing conventional wisdom, Creating the Future is a work of social history and cultural criticism that examines the premise that the progress of art in Los Angeles ceased during the 1970s — after the decline of the Ferus Gallery, the scattering of its stable of artists (Robert Irwin, Ed Kienholz, Ed Moses, Ed Ruscha and others), and the economic struggles throughout the decade — and didn’t resume until sometime around 1984 when Mark Tansey, Alison Saar, Judy Fiskin, Carrie Mae Weems, David Salle, and Manuel Ocampo, among others, became stars in an exploding art market. However, this is far from the reality of the L.A. art scene in the 1970s.

The passing of those fashionable 1960s-era icons, in fact, allowed the development of a chaotic array of outlandish and independent voices, marginalized communities, and energetic, sometimes bizarre visions that thrived during the stagnant 1970s. Fallon’s narrative describes and celebrates, through twelve thematically arranged chapters, the wide range of intriguing artists and the world—not just the objects—they created. He reveals the deeper, more culturally dynamic truth about a significant moment in American art history, presenting an alternative story of stubborn creativity in the face of widespread ignorance and misapprehension among the art cognoscenti, who dismissed the 1970s in Los Angeles as a time of dissipation and decline.


MICHAEL FALLON is a longtime writer and editor on arts and culture based in Minneapolis, where he serves as the Executive Director of Minneapolis TV Network, a public access community media center. He has published hundreds of reviews, feature articles, essays, and profiles in print and online for City Pages in Minneapolis, the Orange County Weekly, the St. Paul Pioneer Press, Pittsburgh City Paper, Minneapolis-St. Paul Magazine, the Utne Reader, Public Art Review, American Craft, and Art in America. Fallon received national attention for his blog about the struggles of artists, The Chronicle of Artistic Failure in America. His current blog—Pacific Ocean Blue: Tales of L.A’s Past/Tales of L.A. Today—is focused on the art, culture, and history of Southern California. Fallon studied art at UC Berkeley and in the graduate program in art at Cal State Fullerton, and completed a Master’s in Arts Management at Carnegie Mellon University in Pittsburgh, where, while spearheading a comprehensive study of the nation’s aging artists, he interviewed Californian luminaries like Llyn Foulkes and George Herms. Please visit


“Seldom does a book about art so fully capture not only the ways in which history, culture, geography, and personality intersect to create art, but also insight into how art both defines and influences our society.…well-researched, deftly told story…” —Public Art Review

“…a valuable record…Read it and plan on finishing with a more nuanced and insightful view of Los Angeles culture.” —The Huffington Post

“Michael Fallon interweaves dozens of biographies to tell the tale of the most formative decade that the Los Angeles Art Scene will ever know. After the clubby Ferrus gallery was shuttered, the only artists left to lead Los Angeles were the outsiders. Artists as disparate as Judy Chicago, Robert Williams, Bas Jan Ader, and Llyn Foulkes each take the spotlight as Fallon brings to life a time when innovation mattered more than money. The earnestness of the author’s lean prose should create a hunger and wistfulness for authenticity in the heart of every serious art lover.” —Mat Gleason, Coagula Art Journal, Huffington Post Arts

“Unfairly maligned as a cultural wasteland, the Los Angeles of the 1970s was actually home to a stunning array of artists and art scenes that channeled the disillusionment of the era — and the myriad challenges of life in the sprawling, smog-choked city — into work that was powerful, enduring, and profoundly influential. Kudos to Michael Fallon for shining a brilliant and well-deserved spotlight upon this fascinating period.” —Dan Epstein, author of Stars and Strikes: Baseball and America in the Bicentennial Summer of ’76 and Big Hair and Plastic Grass: A Funky Ride Through Baseball and America in the Swinging ’70s

“Michael Fallon performs a double service with Creating the Future: he contradicts the notion that artistic activity in southern California lost its mojo after the 1960s, and he makes the argument by identifying and connecting all the myriad dots, compiling a thorough, vivid history. With a supple perspective, focusing here, pulling back there, Fallon promulgates the sense that L.A. and its environs constituted one of the most challenging and exciting places to make art throughout the latter half of the 20th century, ‘me decade’ or no.”
—Peter Frank

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