Watching the world from carwashes

December 17, 2018


In photographer Mark Lyon’s second presentation of his ongoing “Bay Views” series, the relationship between external space and what Lyon calls “active interiors”, reveals the artist’s capacity for risk. Whereas his previous work offers a clearly delineated formal conversation between internal and external space, through the use of line, shape, symbols and concepts such as minimalism, Lyon’s 2018 collection compels viewers to surrender to alternating perspectives.

Bay Views © Mark Lyon
Bay Views © Mark Lyon

Lyon’s subject matter, car washes on the East Coast, offer architecture as a point of departure. As if conducting a scientific experiment, the use of time in the new work acts as a control – specifically the “blue hour” just after the sun goes down. A consistent point of view throughout the series that captures two frames acting as distinct areas of focus within each photograph, delineated by both light and materiality, is also present: the boxy interior of the carwash and the driveway entrance/exit as a portal to the world.

Bay Views © Mark Lyon
Bay Views © Mark Lyon

In Lyon’s prior work, objects – a vacuum station, a house, the moon – focus the eye of the viewer as it leaves the confines of the carwash. However, his more recent images often trail off into the vastness of landscape, suggesting open ended and seasonal perspectives. In contrast, one piece features a blue plastic tarp that covers the exit, teasing the viewer with a backlit luminescence that hovers over a hay-filled interior. This photograph, one of three in the exhibition that will be presented at a larger scale, acts as a counterpoint to the others to further frame Lyon’s underlying interests in harmony and beauty as they pertain to the interplay of color and light. Ultimately, “Bay Views” repurposes a familiar American icon, the car wash, into a formalist interpretation of utility and aesthetics.

Bay Views © Mark Lyon
Bay Views © Mark Lyon

Diana McClure 

Diana McClure is a writer and photographer based in New York City. Her work has appeared in Art Basel magazine, Art in America, Photograph and The Brooklyn Rail among others. 

Bay Views © Mark Lyon

Mark Lyon, Bay Views

December 12, 2018 – January 26, 2019

Elizabeth Houston Gallery
190 Orchard St
New York, NY 10002


Recent posts
Unpublished 1970s–1980s images by John Goodman
Comprised of brilliant color photographs, the majority of which have never before been exhibited, the exhibition “John Goodman: not recent color“ on view at the Addison Gallery of American Art in Andover, Massachusetts, examines the American cultural landscape through the coming of age of a young artist in the 1970s and 1980s.
Zanele Muholi: Somnyama Ngonyama, Hail the Dark Lioness
“Zanele Muholi: Somnyama Ngonyama, Hail the Dark Lioness” is the long-awaited monograph from one of the most powerful visual activists of our time. The book features over ninety of Muholi’s evocative self-portraits, each image drafted from material props in Muholi’s immediate environment.