Great photographers are like our best teachers. They pick out something we have missed and get us to notice it. They challenge us, confuse us, push us out of our bubble of comfort. In a perpetual show-and-tell, they encourage us to ask questions of our environment. In the works of Mark Indig, the prints are carefully-composed, existing in a space without people but with the feeling of human presence. These are lived-in environments, altered by their inhabitants, and unique. The stillness belies their sometimes handmade, improvised nature: the hand-painted murals, graffiti, signs, advertisements and even the choice of dresses in the windows. Like an urban anthropologist of our own present day, Indig gets us to notice this world.
On exhibition at RAM are selections from Mark Indig’s "Closed on Sundays" and "The LA River: A City Runs Through It" series. In "Closed on Sundays," the storefronts’ similarities are comforting, but each small storefront has its own quirks and personality. The requisite gates over doors and windows are the masks and protectors of this world increasingly vanishing in a world of big box stores. Indig’s work serves as a visual documentation of a contemporary “folk” style taking place on avenues and streets across the country. These photos were all shot on Sunday morning, perhaps on a street near you. Hopefully their beauty will encourage us to wake up early, if only to get us out of bed, onto the street, and reminding us to notice the world around us with as fine an eye.
"The LA River: A City Runs Through It" focuses on the life and spirit of a maligned river in a frenzied city. Indig asks us to look past the “ugly” association of a concrete river, covered with graffiti, and overseen by a bureaucratic network of agencies and governments. Slicing through the thick air with his camera lens, he pares down images with an almost minimalist feel. Colors, reflections off the water, metal patterns, decaying letters, and weathered walls have the feel of a mid-20th century colorfield painting. The huge variety of scenes captured are surprising given that the photographer strayed no more than 100 yards from the river. It is this focus on capturing the inner life of the tributary that compels us to see more.
In presenting Mark Indig’s work, the Riverside Art Museum continues its dedication to exhibiting the work of important artists living and working in Southern California. RAM promotes an appreciation of the arts by presenting quality exhibitions and community educational programs for the enrichment of the region. We owe thanks to our patrons and members, RAM’s dedicated staff, and particular thanks to Mark for his vision.