‘Swank’: Artist plugs in new automotive gallery exhibit in La Jolla

Artist Jean Lowe's "Swank" exhibit in La Jolla will feature a "loose replica" of the electric Hummer truck.
( Quint Gallery/Lile Kvantaliani)

By parking a new immersive exhibit in La Jolla, artist Jean Lowe hopes to drive home an entertaining experience for viewers.

Lowe’s solo installation “Swank” opens with a reception at 4 p.m. Saturday, Oct. 1, at Quint Gallery, 7655 Girard Ave.

Lowe will convert the gallery space into an “unauthorized auto dealership,” the centerpiece of which is the “Swank Tank,” an 18-foot papier mache sculpture of an electric Hummer truck.

The installation will feature gallery staff acting as car salespeople, a suite of their portraits and other paintings by Lowe and her husband, Kim MacConnel.

There also will be seating areas and a bar.

Lowe, who lives in Encinitas, said “the whole installation is meant to evoke the feeling of a high-end auto dealership.” She said she visited the GMC dealer in Escondido for inspiration.

The “Swank Tank,” a “loose replica” of the GMC Hummer EV Pickup, “embodies opposing commitments,” Lowe said, as the vehicle is modeled on a “9,000-pound electric car.”

“It signals ‘do-gooders’ … but also ‘bling’,” she said.

Jean Lowe's replica Smart EV will be at Quint Gallery’s booth at the La Jolla Art & Wine Festival Oct. 8-9.
(Quint Gallery/Lile Kvantaliani)

The installation will be related to one at Quint Gallery’s booth at the La Jolla Art & Wine Festival on Saturday and Sunday, Oct. 8-9, for which Lowe has created a smaller car, a Smart EV, on a rotating platform.

The car’s license plate reads “Think big.”

The festival entry also will have a performance aspect, with someone acting as a car salesperson inviting viewers into the space.

“I’m often kind of a literalist,” Lowe said. “So I thought, ‘What would I do for street space?’”

She said she wanted the festival installation to be something people “could enjoy out in the street but also encourage people to come on into the gallery.”

Both installations are “open to … ambiguity,” Lowe said. “I hope it’s entertaining and funny and aesthetically engaging. If the viewer feels like mucking through the weeds, I think interesting conceptual ideas are there.”

She said she wants her show to be welcoming, with “a few sucker punches in between the laughs.”

Lowe has been doing installation work “since I really began working as an artist,” following her master’s degree in fine arts from UC San Diego in La Jolla in 1988.

“A lot of my installations deal with staging,” she said. “I like creating an environment where the art object is not this single framed element alone on a wall but more like the viewer moves through the work and experiences it physically.”

“Swank” will be on view through Saturday, Nov. 26. For more information, visit