Creativity blooms as size shrivels
By Helen L.Kohen
Small may be inadequate, and little, too little, but miniature seems always to be just about perfect.
There is a fascination we all shate in things teeny tiny, especially when we know them best in some regular size. Which is why Micro ’87, the second annual Artifacts exhibition of works of art restricted in size to (measuring) 7 inches or less, turns out to be, as touted, “the biggest little group show in town.”
There is no scarcity of numbers, with 255 artists represented by at least twice as many entries. Hundreds of pictures seem to dance like multicolored dots before your eyes. A little confusing perhaps, but eventually exhilarating.
Artifacts Art Salon is a unique place anyway. It is a not-for-profit entity that encourages artists working in several disciplines, a force for original expression as well as a gallery and performance space to show that off. Aided by the Business Volunteers for the Arts to acquire their institutional status. Artifacts celebrates its first actual community grant.
Thanks to the Dade County Council of Arts and Sciences, this year’s Micro exhibition goes International.
Which brings up another unique point about this show. It srinks, spreads and grows by supply and demand. Micro began this run to New York, and about half the works in it are from artists from there. Something less than 40 percent of what is being shown at Artifacts comes from South Florida artists, the rest from London. Tom Phillips is among the “foreign” contributors.
This launching across the water is just a beginning, accourding to Howard Davis, who has been steering Artifacts along its way, keeping foremost its free-ranging spirit.
“Eventually Micro could involce hundreds of works from artists living in many cities around the world.” he said.
Since the olny rule that governs this show concerns size, artists can just bring in their works and they will be acommadated. This one was so last-minute that Davis, with the help of a dozen supporters, put it up overnight. And because Davis asks the artists to replace those works that sell, the show remains big as well as expandable.
Scale plays funny tricks with artists. Though restrained by dimensions, they responded with everything but restraint in terms of subject matter and form. If memory holds, the jokes are more ple-in-the face than last year, the serious humor more scatological, the sex less erotic. There are numbers of phalluses, bo no real gender outrage.
One might conclude that small formats allow for greater artistic freedoms. Certainly there is evidence of experimentation for some of the artists.
Chris Mangiaracina made a wonderful sculpture cityscape from leftover plastic scraps, a change from his more usual huge, brooding paintings. Small formats can also drive home large differences in perception. The concentration of meaning, even power, in so tight a bit of scuplture as Shahreyar Ataie’s Plight of the Political Prisoner proves that monumentality and scale are not to be confused.
It takes preseverance nontheless to stay long among the hundreds of small works, each calling for some attention. That may be quite impossible but it does work to walk toward a wall area that attracts, stand still a while and stare.
If luck holds, you will catch a glimpse of well-painted figures gumming the works of a computer circuit board (M. Pobre of New York did the honors), which hangs hard by a constructed log cabin of sinister aspect by Wendy Cohen. You might see Kevin Mac Ivor’s splendid catch of fish, Schott Hartley’s compelling/repuslive Fly on the Wall, Gregory Rem’s Triple XXX (a series of pasted-up faces that stay with you), or a set of collages, compact and evocative, by Bruce Helander. There is more of the show in the loft, even more spilling out into the street, a pole made artful by Karen Mennes.
I suppose the one thing we would insist be avoided in an exhibition of small works is any sign of cuteness. There is none, at least nothing memorably so. On the other hand, we do not expect profundity either. There is something of the lark about the show, a serious half-serious attempt at getting artists to limit one aspect of art while trusting that other aspects will be let go.
That much works. But the best thing about Micro is the concept of the travelling show as a living organism, rather than as a packaged, finite item, caught and ready for consumption. If “new” art is not always 100 percent fresh idea, Micro doesn’t seem to care. It makes much of the lively and Impulsive, and that’s enough.
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