Art in all sizes at new Waterworks exhibit ‘All Things Great and Small’

Published 12:01 am Saturday, February 18, 2023

SALISBURY — Is bigger better?

So often, when we purchase something, the larger it is, the greater the cost. Typically, a larger car is more expensive than a smaller one. So is a bigger house. Want a photograph enlarged? Cost goes up with the size of the print. And somehow, along the way, we’ve tended to value things on that same scale: the bigger the better.

However, with art, all bets are off. Probably the most famous painting in the world is the Mona Lisa, on display in the Louvre Museum in Paris, France. Its size is not all that unusual for a portrait — about 13/4 feet by 21/2 feet. First-time viewers often exclaim, “How very small it is!” Perhaps after hearing about it and seeing it reproduced for everything from television ads to coffee table books, they expected something much larger and grander.

Visitors to “All Things Great and Small,” the new exhibit on display at Waterworks Visual Arts Center, are likely to make that same exclamation. Some of the pieces are quite tiny. “High Summer at Stone Bridge,” created by Carol André, is  only 13/4 by 21/2 inches.

She painted the scene on fabric, then embroidered three-dimensional trees and bushes into it. André’s work in the exhibit also includes tiny wood carved birds less than an inch in length, perched on tree branches.

Another tiny item, the bronze, gold, and silver sculpture, “Mirror of Hawks,” by Paul Eaton, is barely 21/2 inches tall. Eaton’s work includes bears, owls, hawks and otters, all quite tiny. Other tiny sculptures include Brenda Berdnik’s pieces of metal and fabric, placed in shadow-box frames.   

Debra Keirce’s framed pieces –- some as small as 5 inches by 3 inches — often required her to create them under magnification. Much of Brenda Morgan’s art focuses on animals, including almost a dozen pieces on horses … one less than three-quarters of an inch long.  She says that her experience in painting miniatures improved the way she paints larger formats.  And Denise Horne-Kaplan’s landscapes, many depicting mountain vineyards, include several that are quite small.

As the title of the show indicates, some are larger-than-life items. Carrie Waller’s almost photographically precise painting of canning jars filled with cherries is an example. The cherries themselves are enormous — as much as four inches in diameter.

Perspective can deal with aspects other than size. The art of Sarah Folts forces one to view butterflies, moths and other winged things differently than normal. Her pieces use actual creatures, but framed in unique ways designed to make the viewer reflect on them as art, rather than insects.

Also, for some artists, their approach to creating their work is a different as the size of the piece. Waller for example, plans out her paintings in great detail before she paints a stroke, setting down in pencil even the smallest lines of shadows. By contrast, Maria Bennett Hock paints in bold, loose strokes and works quickly to capture the feeling of the moment.  To put a musical comparison to it, Waller is much like a classical composer, carefully mapping out every detail, while Hock is the jazz improviser, using her spontaneity to give a vibrancy to her works.

“All Things Great and Small” will feature the works of nine nationally and internationally acclaimed artists.

An Opening Reception for “All Things Great and Small” was held on Friday, with  Salisbury Rowan Community Foundation, an affiliate of the Foundation for the Carolinas, sponsoring the exhibit that runs through  May 26.

The gallery is open Monday-Friday, 10 a.m.-5 p.m. and Saturday, 10 a.m.-2 p.m.  Admission is free.

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