In trying to come up with an analogy to artists who break form and create miniatures, I think of what it would mean to a writer: Condensing a major news story into a tweet of 140 characters? Completing a novel on an iPad mini? No doubt, it would be tough.
The artists in the “Petite” show at Calvin Charles on Scottsdale’s Marshall Way, however, see no hurdles in the miniature form. Jennyfer Stratman, for instance, who is known for tall, reedy, naturalistic human figures in bronze, created mixed media scenes — less than a foot wide — using copper, bronze, steel and aluminum. The slight color variations in the metals and the careful way Stratman flattened, cut and nailed the metal pieces give way to scenes of mountains, clouds and other clever configurations.
I also liked the “Century Bloom Series” by Mary Meyer, in which she drew delicate cross-sections of desert flora framed by onion-shaped cut paper. The works in the series are about iPad mini size, I would say.
Calvin Charles’ popular artist Pascal came up with mini versions of the mixed-media flat wooden boxes he is known for. It’s so intriguing how he pieces blocks together in a kind of basic jigsaw puzzle.
Deborah Paswaters came up with petite tondos (an oxymoron, maybe) and squares depicting free-flowing nudes in various poses. Her style is to define the female figure with thin lines of bright paint.
The show runs through December 3.
I dropped into Blue Rain Gallery across the street and was pleased to see work by Preston Singletary, whose show at the Heard Museum I reviewed in 2011. Singletary’s blown-and-sand-carved glass pieces are extraordinary, giving an elegant, modern beauty to Native American iconography. On prominent display are glass “baskets” about 2 feet high, with Native American motifs. With Dante Marioni, Singletary has created monumental blown-glass vases. In a surprising twist, small animal figures climb up the vases, but you know there’s a story behind them. I also liked Marioni’s blown-glass vases in leaf shapes, which I hadn’t seen before.
Method Art, also in the vicinity, was brimming with good art, especially black-and-white photography and mixed-media abstracts. Standouts included Luis A. Salazar, Christine Cassano and Bob Price.
For now, Calvin Charles, Blue Rain, Lisa Sette and Method Art are about the closest you’ll get to higher-end contemporary art galleries on this section of Marshall Way, now that Bentley Gallery has vacated the street.
As a footnote, I should add that it was awfully quiet on this section of Marshall Way last Thursday evening. About the only semi-happenin’ place was 5th and Wine, with live music on the patio. Plans are underway to bring back the crowds, though, and you can read about them on azcentral.com at http://www.azcentral.com/community/scottsdale/articles/20121113merchants-push-marshall-way-revitalization.html
Enjoy the galleries, restaurants and shops on a balmy Thursday evening art walk — soon.