Jake Longstreth is best-known for his paintings depicting trees and landscapes distinct to Southern California, as well as architectural monuments to commercial hubs of the 1990s. Longstreth marries a stark, graphic realism with a landscape painter’s sensitivity to light and atmosphere with very distinctive, stylized brushwork. The artist’s thinly veiled painterly tone is epitomized by the glowing, gradating skies where rich blues seamlessly fade into filthy browns and ashen greys. Longstreth’s natural landscape work occasionally featured towering plumes of wildfire smoke or other man-made intrusions like parking lots and tennis courts cutting into the space. In his architectural paintings, Longstreth focuses on the ruinous monuments of the recent past – dying or dead retail giants like Circuit City and Toys R Us. Yet in these paintings, such a grandiose depiction of banality is not without smiling irony. Longstreth started photographing these chains in the early 2000’s, before the 2008 recession, when their proliferation seemed unstoppable. Online retail was not entrenched then, and today, in an odd irony, these corporate stores have acquired a charming, if grotesque nostalgia, like past ‘main streets’ of their era. Longstreth straddles a line between humor, beauty and a frank appraisal of what we’ve built – for better or worse. Both themes, taken together, demonstrate Longstreth’s interest in the broad cultural and economic forces literally shaping our world.
Jake Longstreth (b. 1977, Sharon, CT; lives and works in Los Angeles) received his MFA from California College of the Arts in San Francisco, CA. He has been included in numerous solo and group exhibitions at David Kordansky, Gregory Lind Gallery, San Francisco; Crisp Ellert Museum, St. Augustine, Florida; Monya Rowe Gallery, New York; M Woods, Beijing; Blum & Poe, Los Angeles and Mahan Gallery, Columbus.