Visual Arts » 3D

The Might of Mini

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Forget everything you know about standard art galleries, because Gallery 924 does not fit the model. Replace white walls and ceilings with exposed-beam ceilings, walls of brick and others comprised completely of windows. This setup is much more interesting than the blank canvas look that museums and galleries usually go for, but it can pose creative challenges when it comes to hanging art.

Shannon Linker, director of Artist Services at the Arts Council of Indianapolis and Gallery 924, says the features that make it a challenge are the same ones that make it such a beautiful place for art. Using the space as a gallery highlights its unique qualities, according to Linker.

All art in TINY II measures less than 6x6x6".
  • All art in TINY II measures less than 6x6x6".

Last year the gallery put on a show that played to its distinctive layout, and it was made up of only small works of art. Each piece was no larger than 6 inches in height, length, and depth. It was simply titled, TINY.

Linker was the brains behind the operation. She says she had a vision of tiny things covering the gallery, even hanging from the ceiling. She also envisioned the show with site-specific art, where the art and the unique space that Gallery 924 offers worked together to create something more than a piece that could hang on any wall.

"Just about everything you could think of [was in the show]," says Linker.

More than 100 artists were represented in the exhibit, with more than 200 pieces of art.

There were traditional works like paintings and ceramics, but also small installations on the windows and objects coming out of the wooden columns.

The opening reception welcomed approximately 600 people. Even after the successful event, Linker admitted that she did not plan to repeat the show because of the work it required. Though she was asked many times if the gallery was going to do it again. Artists wanted to be a part of it, people wanted to see the art and shop, and Linker thought "Wow, we have to do it again." She says the TINY show will most likely become a tradition now.

So, back by popular demand, this year's version will also move beyond wall space and floor stanchions and feature the works of about 150 artists. They submitted nearly 400 pieces to the TINY II show, which opened on Dec. 6 during Gallery 924's First Friday event. And even though more items can fit into the space, Linker says she and her crew have narrowed it down to half that amount, the same as last year, to keep it from being overwhelming.

Michael Helsley's campfire.
  • Michael Helsley's campfire.

Many artists are returning for this year's show, including Michael Helsley. Helsley, a sculptor, had applied to be in one of Gallery 924's shows before, so he was in the database and received the callout e-mail for last year's show. He already had some pieces that fit the criteria: three portable, 4-inch-tall wooden campfires with slots and tabs that fit together like a balsa wood glider. They were painted primary colors instead of the usual brown and orange.

Helsley typically creates sculptures on both ends of the size scale. He has a piece in the IUPUI library with components that are 11 feet long.

Helsley got much positive feedback on his art and says he really enjoyed working with Linker and her co-worker Lindsey Lord, who is the public art and artist services coordinator at the Arts Council and the gallery. This year he is also exhibiting several cutouts, one being in the form of an astronaut.

"They will attach to the windows and be like silhouettes," Helsley explains.

The exhibit runs until the First Friday event on Jan. 3, 2014. Because the art is smaller, the prices are generally smaller as well (many priced at $100 or less), which is perfect for helping people start their own art collection without spending a fortune.

The small works are also ideal for finishing off the holiday gift list. Because many people buy presents at the show, there will be two days before Christmas so people can come and pick up their purchases.

"I bought five or six pieces myself last year," Linker says.

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