For nearly a decade, Penelope Gottlieb has worked to produce a series of drawings that examine the archetypal American dream of home ownership, while also exploring the idea of the house as a status symbol, marker of class identity, and focal point of desire. In NO $ DOWN, Gottlieb’s colored-pencil drawings catalogue frontal views of popular domestic architecture. From storybook homes and tract houses to traditional bungalows and numerous other architectural styles, Gottlieb offers an artistic response to the complex and evolving narrative of real estate in America.
To create her drawings, Gottlieb scours newspaper ads and real estate magazines, seizing on the small photographs of houses published there. She is intrigued by the uniform camera angles employed by real estate photographers and the hyperbolic advertising phrases she observes—such as “Exceptional Feng Shui!” or “Shangri-La Personified.” Selecting houses from these advertisements as sources images, Gotlieb then creates finely detailed monochromatic drawings with an atmospheric, dream-like quality. After matching her drawings with vintage frames that she considers to be “fixer-uppers,” she elaborately “refurbishes” and paints the frames to match each correlating drawing. Gottlieb acknowledges that contemporary perceptions of home ownership have dramatically changed in recent months. Her installation NO $ DOWN encourages viewers to reflect on the American Dream of home ownership—that has proven to be more fragile than ever.
Penelope Gottlieb was born in Los Angeles and was raised near the suburban housing development known as Mt.Olympus. She received her BFA from Art Center College of Design and her MFA from UC Santa Barbara. Her work has been exhibited in numerous venues including the Krannert Art Museum, Otis Ben Maltz Gallery, Michael Kohn Gallery, and the Contemporary Arts Forum Santa Barbara.