Showcasing Suburbia

An exhibit at the Carnegie Museum of Art offers an unbiased, "awestruck" exploration of America's suburbs.
October 8, 2008, 6am PDT | Judy Chang
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"About three dozen artists and architects blow past the narrow sterility and conformity found in Hollywood takes such as "The Stepford Wives" and "American Beauty" to offer neither a condemnation nor a celebration of suburbia but something trickier, a bit of awestruck contemplation of the way more than half of America lives.

Lee Stoetzel's photo of his playful scale-model sculpture, "McMansion 2," uses McDonald's Filet-O-Fish as the stucco for a large two-story home. Laura E. Migliorino's stylized photos quietly explode the lily-white suburban stereotype by showcasing a rainbow coalition of residents. (Almost half of new immigrants move straight to the suburbs.) Paho Mann's photos show how Arizona's abandoned convenience stores live on as tattoo parlors and tuxedo rentals in "Re-Inhabited Circle Ks."

Scale models explore new retail trends. For one, as Mr. Blauvelt says, no new enclosed mall has been built in the United States since 2006. (The Galleria at Pittsburgh Mills, which opened off Route 28 in Frazer in 2005, may be among the last of its kind.) Retail's new wave is a "power center" such as The Waterfront, where a string of big-box retailers loom above an assemblage of smaller stores and restaurants dotting an asphalt sea."

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Published on Sunday, October 5, 2008 in Pittsburgh Post-Gazette
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