Unison Art Gallery’s fifth annual Mini-Works show at Water Street Market proves that good things can come in small packages.
The show, which opened on Saturday, Sept. 15 and will run until Sunday, Oct. 14, has become one of the gallery’s most anticipated annual shows.
“People participated who don’t consider themselves artists but for whatever reason, the theme…or the size appealed to them,” Helen Gutfreund, co-curator of the Unison Art Gallery, said.
Staying true to its name, each piece was required to be a maximum of 5 inches by 5 inches, and three-dimensional pieces could only protrude 5 inches. The gallery was able to showcase 200 pieces from 50 artists because the pieces were so small.
“We like to include a larger number of artists,” Christine Crawfis, executive director of the Unison Arts Center, said. “That’s the nature of the Mini-Works show.”
Gutfreund and Co-curator Kat Cappillino chose “idiom” as this year’s theme. Gutfreund said they wanted a theme that could be summed up in one or two words, so artists could interpret on their own.
“We knew we’d get a good mix of literal interpretation and some abstract interpretations,” she said.
All the artwork submitted had to illustrate an idiom and viewers were able to interact with the works by guessing which idiom was being portrayed in each piece.
“Everybody knows idioms and uses them and we just thought it would be fun to see pictures of them and hear interpretations of them,” Cappillino said.
Due to the number of works, the curators had a methodical system for hanging up pieces for the show including a painter’s tape grid. Cappillino said the artwork was not grouped by artist, so if an artist submitted multiple pieces, they would not necessarily be displayed next to each other.
“As a curator, I know where every piece is but as a participating artist, it would take forever to go and find it so it’s a little bit of a search game for the artist,” she said. “It’s a little overwhelming, but the show’s also fun because…everyone chose to depict common expressions so people who go and look at the work can try to figure out what it is.”
Artists weren’t turned down from displaying their work in the Mini-Works show, so many people who other wise wouldn’t show their work in a gallery had the opportunity to do so. Gutfruend said this enhanced the sense of community within the New Paltz art world.
“The Mini-Works show was something that brought the community together,” she said. “Not just the community of artists, but the larger community of people who appreciate art or who knew artists or were engaged in art but didn’t really know how to participate. This gave them an outlet to do this. People coming together was the most special part of the show for me.”