SoCal artist Jeff Soto is currently on exhibit in London at the Stolen Spaces Gallery, with a show called “Inland Empire”, and its images of exploding sci-fi mixed with the dusty pickups of suburban California are a haunting mix.
“The region I live in is called the Inland Empire. It is an area about 50 miles east of Los Angeles nestled between the desert and the mountains. Overall it is a low-income area, mostly suburbs and manufacturing plants with a high minority population. When the economy was booming the Inland Empire grew at a fast rate as people headed east, unable to afford homes in Los Angeles. It was one of the fastest growing areas in the U.S. But when the economy crumbled the Inland Empire was hit hard. As home values dropped most who bought houses ended up backwards on their mortgages and let them fall back to the banks. We have lost 115,000 jobs since 2007 and the unemployment rate is near 12%. I see the Inland Empire as a miniature version of what is happening around the world- poor people and the working class are getting poorer and disempowered while the rich and powerful are getting more rich and more powerful.”