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Golden West? Jan Sawka’s California Dream

Golden West?

Golden West? Jan Sawka's California Dream

While growing up in communist Poland, Jan Sawka dreamed of the United States. He sought information and inspiration for those dreams from every source available. The vivid colors of the sumptuously printed magazine AMERYKA made a huge impression on his imagination. This contrasted with the dark visions of the American New Wave films, which were among the only films the communists allowed in cinemas, with the intention of portraying the West as a corrupt and dysfunctional world. This exhibition of paintings and works on paper focuses on the theme of California/America as a land of problematic promise.

On Display: February 3-May 9, 2020

Opening Reception: Saturday, February 1 at 6-8 p.m.

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California Dreaming: Who's the Dreamer, What's the Dream?

Monday, Feb. 3, 2020
4 - 6 p.m.

The co-curators of the Golden West?: Jan Sawka’s California Dream exhibition, Hanna Maria Sawka and Frank Boyer, will talk about major events in the life and career of Jan Sawka and discuss the thematic threads woven together to create the fabric of Jan Sawka’s California Dream. The co-curators will illuminate how conditions in the Poland of Jan Sawka’s youth led to Sawka’s paradoxically skeptical and heartfelt vision of America. Hanna Maria Sawka will relate her memories of a Californian who was prominent in the Sawka family’s life, Bob Schulberg, including his role in helping the family attain refuge in the United States.  Jan Sawka’s California Dream, as articulated in the exhibition, shifted and developed under the impact of the direct encounter with American reality. Bob Schulberg was an important part of that direct encounter, sharing Sawka’s critical sense of the absurd. This talk will explore the complexities of the California Dream, as it appears in Jan Sawka’s art, including the increasingly universal and problematic themes of the negative impact of over-commodification and market mentality, and the loneliness and isolation within a seeming “paradise.” 

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