Good Art Comes in Small Packages at LA Gallery’s Miniature Show

Installation view, 'The Mini Show' at The LODGE
Installation view of left wall, ‘The Mini Show’ (2015) (all photos by the author for Hyperallergic)

LOS ANGELES — While the prevailing impulse of galleries is to show artwork that’s scaled for spaces with cavernous walls and high ceilings, one in Los Angeles did the opposite by scaling down — to one-tenth the size of real life. The Mini Show shrank the gallery space of The LODGE and presented stamp-sized paintings and sculptures, offering a unique vantage for experiencing new work by artists like Miranda July and Ed Ruscha.

Clare Crespo, close-up view of miniature gallery (click to enlarge)

The miniature reproduction of the gallery, built by artist Clare Crespo and co-curated by gallerist Alice Lodge, meticulously represented details like tiny fixtures on the doors and itty-bitty wainscoting on the walls. Magnifying glasses provided by the gallery invited visitors to see the intricate handiwork of artists recreating much smaller versions of their usual work. Seeing miniature artwork in this way oddly made the artists’ labor more visible with every detailed stroke of oil, acrylic, or gouache by painters Louise Bonnet, Jon Pestoni, and Konstantin Kakanias.

Pieces of onyx and marble stood in for the work of sculptor Janet Levy, while a stack of cardboard signs by Miranda July protested large issues in diminutive form, framing nuclear arms, fossil fuels, and gun control as scalable rather than insurmountable problems to overcome. The top-down, holistic view of the dollhouse gallery also made it easier to see the hand of the curator and the ways arrangement and spacing determine the gallery experience.

While scaling down may make art more accessible in some ways, it remains to be seen whether miniature forms of art can also scale down their outsized value as commodities. While the tiny Ed Ruscha print read “I remembered to forget” and “I forgot to remember,” it was hard to forget we were still looking at the work of a blue-chip artist whose prices are unlikely to decrease, no matter the size of the artwork.

The Mini Show read like a Gulliver’s Travels–esque satire of the art world in which the city had become so starved for affordable space, gallerists had to make do with the tiniest of spaces, or like a comic book fantasy in which an evil villain (or billionaire collector) shrank a gallery for nefarious purposes. Whatever its story, the miniature gallery invited visitors to slow down their pace and peer through the looking glass at a glimpse of the art world writ small.

Installation view of right wall, 'The Mini Show' at The LODGE
Installation view of right wall, ‘The Mini Show’ at The LODGE
Installation view of rear wall, 'The Mini Show' at The LODGE
Installation view of rear wall, ‘The Mini Show’ at The LODGE
Clare Crespo, rear view of miniature gallery (2015)
Clare Crespo, rear view of miniature gallery (2015)
Clare Crespo, front view of miniature gallery (2015)
Clare Crespo, front view of miniature gallery (2015)

The Mini Show took place at The LODGE (1024 N Western Ave, Los Angeles) between October 3 and October 24.

Editor’s note: While Hyperallergic normally doesn’t publish reviews after the conclusion of an exhibition, due to scheduling issues we are making an exception for this one.

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