What do you find at most art exhibitions? I’ve noticed it’s mostly works, often quite large, all hanging up neatly across neutrally painted walls. Groups of people filter in, observe the pieces, and filter out. Hopefully, someone sees a piece that moves them.
What would make you engage with an exhibition differently? What wouldn’t you expect in a traditional exhibition? When I create a solo show, I try to explore these questions.
In 2017, I created my first solo show, Marginalia Reflexive, which explored art quality. Artists often try to present their best pieces. In contrast to this, I took what were basically random doodles I’d drawn on recycled cardboard over 15 years—most of which I didn’t expect to share publicly—and weaved in the story and process of creating them.
With this exhibition, I want to play with the ways people interact with art. How we form expectations about those experiences. Consider walking into this gallery—what did you expect to see? How did you envision navigating to a place where you can take in a piece? Was this an ideal circumstance to be moved by art?
Tiny Splendors: An Intimate Look consists of a series of watercolor paintings and the micro-gallery installations that house them. It represents an answer to some of these questions. It also aims for a bit of fun and surprise.
Tiny Splendors sprang from paint, a mistake, and a lunar obstruction.
Paint is easy to explain: the exhibition’s small watercolor landscapes capture places I (or friends) have visited. For each painting, I challenged myself to capture natural beauty while grappling with size constraints. The small scale forced careful decision-making in the painting process.
Ironically, Tiny Splendors began with careless decision-making. In my haste to order new watercolor paper from an unfamiliar company, I skimmed over the dimensions. To my surprise, two small pads arrived. I had no idea what to do with them. Eventually, they joined me on a trip to Montana, where I painted the first of the series.
As I was painting, the idea of a solo show with just these tiny pieces on a big gallery wall would evoke humor. The idea stuck.
By chance, an eclipse occurred around the same time. A friend made a pinhole viewer from a large cardboard box and I was amused by the image of her standing in the lawn with the box stuck over her head.
Somehow, these ideas converged in my brain, and this exhibition is the result. With Tiny Splendors, I offer an intimate, individual gallery experience, and an unusual context. I hope you enjoy.
David Sheehan is a self-taught artist who ponders and pursues creative work as often as I can. Like many folks, I keep busy with work, family, housework, and trying to find time to sleep. In my small basement studio, I create art to unwind and appreciate some of the beauty, grandeur, and amusement life brings.