A decade becomes a digestible increment by which we can measure both the transit of time and the distance between milestones. It is on this occasion, the aluminium anniversary, that Indigo Gallery owner Elisabeth Samuels has mounted the gallery’s current exhibition, X: INDIGO TEN YEARS. It is rare within the reaches of the Western New York arts community to see a more comprehensive snapshot of the art of our time. It becomes a feat both attempted and failed within larger contexts, with a notable exception being the Amid/In WNY exhibition series of 2015/16 by Hallwalls Contemporary Arts Center.
Indigo’s exhibition has marked the occasion with an exhibition featuring 62 of the scores of artists who have shown with the gallery over the last decade. With work both old and new, the exhibition falls somewhere between a retrospective and a renewal; a call to pushing forward and highlighting the necessity of contemporary art not just within our homes and on our walls, but within the daily lives of every person. With 130 works spanning a range of media, the exhibition is hung salon style throughout, a demonstrable horror vacui.
Within the burgeoning selection of 130 pieces of art there are singular moments of beauty and kinetic interplay between both artists and artwork. Jozef Bajus’ signature paper and staple piece adjacent Ani Hoover’s wall-mounted pile of beads and Gareth Lichty’s controlled wood-cut print demonstrate the range of formal and interpersonal discipline of many of the artists Indigo has exhibited, while Jody Hanson and Kathleen Sherin’s neighboring pieces engage in a quiet, heated moment of exchange against the furthest gallery wall.
There are more informal categories which emerge from the exhibition, including artwork centered upon portraiture, domesticity, the home itself, and the resplendence of nature across a variety of media. One piece in particular which struck me as a lynchpin of this exhibition was Coleen Toledano’s caged house (inset), serving a both a physical and formal link between the aforementioned categories of nature and the home-as-a-space. Toledano’s work is resplendent and Rococo with twin pitched roofs beneath a cadmium-red cage, with all manner of flora erupting from the epicenter of these conjoined homes.
When asked about her curatorial style, or if any themes emerged from curating this exhibit, Samuels, with a demure smile, admitted it tends toward the “eclectic” with “no singular curatorial viewpoint, and seeking to make it even more expansive.”
Samuels believes that the significance of her gallery and the undertaking therein lies in the distinction which holds it apart from normal commercial galleries, that of its status as an “independent” gallery. This is almost a hybrid model of both commercial and non-profit, with exhibitions which become driven by, and focused upon the work, rather than sales goals. Samuels contends that this allows her, and the gallery moreover, to grow the culture of people who believe that art should be a part of everyday lives, and would seek to further increase both its visibility and accessibility.
Examining the world that was, back in 2008 when Indigo Gallery first opened its doors, would be to see a spiralling global economy, awash in the early months of The Great Recession, and a county which would bear witness to the election of Barack Obama as president; it was a polemic, charged time which we are still trying to unravel. Perhaps the same can be said for Indigo and its legacy, which is still being written. As local museums become more gift-collection driven, and invest in artwork by non-regional artists, the purpose of galleries such as Indigo crystallizes and become central to nurturing our grassroots ecosystem of the arts.
X: INDIGO TEN YEARS is on view until November 3, 2018, with a closing celebration of art and artists from the exhibition on November 3rd from 6-9pm. Additional information and gallery hours can be found at indigoartbuffalo.com.
Lead image: Augustina Droze