Matt Siegle: Mining the San Gabriel Mountains’ Golden Past / KCET Artbound Los Angeles


“19th-century study/Eddie,” 2014, acrylic on paper, 11 x 8.5 inches (27.9 x 21.6 cm). | Photo: Courtesy Park View Gallery

Artist Matt Siegle wanted to understand the drifters, 19th century historical enthusiasts, and homeless individuals who inhabit the San Gabriel Mountains today, where gold mining was once a thriving industry. What he found didn’t so much complete a narrative as inspire further research into this area just north of Los Angeles that was very much a part of the 19th century gold rush and American expansion westward into California. There was a fantasy wealth narrative that prevailed, becoming reality if one discovered gold. In Siegle’s solo show “Eddie’s Gulch” at Park View Gallery, May 24-June 28, 2015, the artist creates fragmented narratives that popped up when he started exploring the culture of disparate wanderers and golden fantasies.

“About two years ago, I started to get interested in tracing countercultural groups, and started doing some research on the American Transcendentalists, and East Coast countercultural living experiments like the Brook Farm,” says Siegle. “As I was thinking about that, I traced and mapped that mentality onto Manifest Expansion, which was happening at that same time, and realized that a lot of these groups — like miners and loggers and even cowboys — were countercultural groups in and amongst themselves, and that they were also male-only.”

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