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no/Dreams of Yorba Linda

Paula Stuttman
Year Grant Awarded 2013

Email > pstuttman@aol.com
State > NY Zip Code > 10025
Website > http://www.paulastuttman.com

The Nixon Library opened in July 1990. The Nixon Foundation originally managed the library and the initial exhibition devoted to Watergate reflected the former President’s views. The National Archives assumed control in 2007 and a new exhibition on Watergate opened in 2011. The current exhibition represents the facts that led to the former President’s resignation in 1974. This exhibition has generated tensions between the Nixon Foundation, Nixon loyalists and the library.

I couldn’t believe that after all these years Nixon was still causing controversy. Then I thought about Yorba Linda. Yorba Linda is the birthplace of Richard M. Nixon and his library is located near his childhood home. Yorba Linda is such a beautiful name. It is easy to imagine it in the first line of an epic poem telling the tale of Nixon’s rise and fall (Long ago in Yorba Linda…). I started to work on a group of paintings titled “Dreams of Yorba Linda” exploring themes of regret, hubris, failure, obsession, stupidity and love. At some point, I googled “Yorba Linda.” Listed at the top of my search was a November 2012 article in the Los Angeles Times about an African American family living in Yorba Linda who experienced race based hate crimes. The final quote in the article is from the father: "We wanted people to know that it's not peachy keen in Yorba Linda when it comes to racism." The article ended any dream of Yorba Linda and my disillusion and disgust suited the deceptive nature of representation. It brought me back to the initial idea that generated this project – the actions of Nixon and his supporters trying to control Nixon’s place in history by trying to control the display on Watergate. The paintings still address the themes stated above but the phrase “Dreams of Yorba Linda” hints at some undefined element of yearning. Yearning is a misplaced feeling. There was never anything there to yearn for.