LA CONTEMPORARY ART REVIEW | Cole Sternberg at El Segundo Museum of Art (ESMoA)

Renée Reizman, LA Contemporary Art Review, May 27, 2021

Cole Sternberg takes over three rooms at the El Segundo Museum of Art (ESMoA), presenting a reverse chronology for the genesis of The Free Republic of California. To offset the dryness of the legal documents on view, the artist includes colorful propaganda and decrepit physical artifacts—wrought iron gates, gnarled chicken wire, a piece of an oak tree infested with parasites—that reference colonization and fractured American dreams. Yet, a campy idealism permeates: The Mamas & the Papas’ song, “California Dreamin’” plays on repeat, a soundtrack that proudly glorifies The Free Republic’s fictional constitution and United Nations Treaty, both of which are on view.