IN THE SUNSHINE OF NEGLECT: DEFINING PHOTOGRAPHS AND RADICAL EXPERIMENTS IN INLAND SOUTHERN CALIFORNIA, 1950 TO THE PRESENT
January 19, 2019 –
194 photographs, 54 artists, 2 museums, 1 region: that’s the shorthand description of a new exhibition set to open January 19, 2019. The simultaneous two-part exhibition at UCR ARTS: California Museum of Photography and the Riverside Art Museum explores the idea that freedom can be found at the margins. It presents the work of groundbreaking photographers who for decades have used Inland Southern California as an tabula rasa laboratory for artistic experiment.
The visions of these artists—experimental, hard-eyed, and imaginative—influenced the course of contemporary art and photography. In the Sunshine of Neglect is the first exhibition to survey this remarkable history. The Inlandia Institute, the region’s premier literary organization, publishes the full 274-page exhibition catalogue.
The inland region is startlingly free of iconography: no Santa Monica Pier, no Hollywood sign, none of the signifiers of Los Angeles. “If you wanted to pick a defining symbol,” explains curator Douglas McCulloh, “it’d be hard to do so. Perhaps a standard stucco tract home? Pick any of ten thousand; they’re fairly interchangeable.”
This lack of iconography leaves the artists free to look, and the strange expanses of Inland Southern California proved conducive to new vision. The “hugely varied topography—valleys, rivers, mountains, deserts, and urban sprawl,” sliced by fault zones and “ofttimes beset by fire or flood” offered a “tabula rasa strangeness,” comments McCulloh.
The resulting alchemy allowed the artists discover new directions, and the landscape became “grounds for change” in photography itself. This history in particularly clear in the work of highly influential New Topographics photographers Robert Adams, Lewis Baltz, and Joe Deal, who are well represented among the show’s 194 works. The artists’ work also helps define the aesthetic identity of America’s thirteeth most populous urban area, a region of 4.5 million people and 27,000 square miles.
The opening reception will be Saturday, January 19 from 6:00 to 9:00 p.m. Opening festivities include music, refreshments, and prize drawings for original photographs by Sant Khalsa, Lewis deSoto, and Douglas McCulloh, plus a Lomo camera, and copies of the exhibition catalogue.
UCR Arts: California Museum of Photography is located at 3824 Main Street, Riverside, CA 92501 and Riverside Art Museum at 3425 Mission Inn Avenue, Riverside, CA 92501. The exhibition sites are three and a half blocks apart. For more information about the partners see: ucrarts.ucr.edu, riversideartmuseum.org, inlandiainstitute.org.
This project was made possible with support from California Humanities, a non-profit partner of the National Endowment for the Humanities. Visit www.calhum.org.