Alison Pearlman Bio
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Welcome to my online home. I am a Los Angeles-based art historian and cultural critic with a love of writing and a penchant for interpreting trends in contemporary art, design, media, and restaurants. What do trends say about the people who create them, those who buy into them, and the cultural conditions that foster the exchanges?

My thoughts on these subjects have claimed many a page in venues of art criticism, theory, and history--such as AFTERIMAGE, X-TRA, and various exhibition catalogues. My writings have entered the cultural-studies journal POPULAR CULTURE REVIEW and the literary outlet SOUTHWEST REVIEW. "The Other Bohemia," my attempt to define a surprising subculture within the Los Angeles entertainment industry, received the SWR's McGinnis-Ritchie Award for best nonfiction of 2003.

2003 was a good year. I also published UNPACKAGING ART OF THE 1980s (University of Chicago Press), a history of artistic trends in New York that aroused critics' worst fears that art was caving to commerce. The book was the fruit of my doctoral work in art history at the University of Chicago; a few years of witnessing the machinations of the contemporary art world as Assistant Curator at the Museum of Contempory Art, Chicago; and a long-held skepticism toward received "truths" on any subject.

In 2006, while back in the halls of academia and intellectually drifting, I found a new and compelling course. I began applying my background in art and design history to my lifelong love of cuisine and restaurants. My first work in this vein appeared in the Winter 2007 POPULAR CULTURE REVIEW. The article "Chef Appeal" asks why, in the United States, chefs became idols, and interprets the appeal of chef-centered media, especially TV imagery, to their fans. In January 2009, I started THE EYE IN DINING, a blog of commentary on fashions in food and restaurants. The culmination of my work on restaurants thus far is SMART CASUAL: THE TRANSFORMATION OF GOURMET RESTAURANT STYLE IN AMERICA (University of Chicago Press, 2013).

When not writing, I am teaching modern and contemporary art and design history at Cal Poly Pomona. I am trying to not damage too many young minds.

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