Sometimes when you think big, you have to think small. No, that's not a quote from Yogi Berra. It's the formula gallerist Cassidy Watt employed to curate In Microscale, a show of 150-odd pieces from about 45 artists, now in its second annual iteration at Metallo Gallery in Madrid. The criteria: create pieces of art that, if 2D, have a surface area of no more than 36 square inches. "I didn't want to tie the artists’ hands behind their backs. You could do a 1-by-36 if you wanted to," he says. If the work is 3D, well, just keep it small.
Watt opened Metallo in 2008, and up until last April's inaugural micro exhibit, he only put on solo shows. "I really wanted to do some sort of group show that harnessed the energy of a lot of minds versus one," he says. He found appeal in creating miniatures because it forced him out of his comfort zone, he says, and those parameters helped focus the project. "There's this really concentrated sense of intent in this body of work.”
Among the noted artists involved are Santa Fe sculptor Cannupa Hanska and woodcarver and painter Melissa Morgan. Hanska, who's known primarily for his ceramics, will be exhibiting paper sculptures. His work tends toward the surreal and anthropomorphic. One tiny piece is a tightly crafted, faceless winged buffalo. It's magnificently eerie, a trait that runs through much of the group show.
Morgan leans more toward dark puns. Her elaborately carved miniature frames house oval, oil-on-wood paintings as small as 2-by-3-inches. One of these is titled "Sweet Heart," and depicts a glamour girl eating a cupcake-frosted bloody heart.
If you need more reason to make the short trek out to the old mining town of Madrid, go for the festivities. "They turn into gigantic parties," Watt says. "I go all out with the catering and music." Opening night will feature live tunes from reggae four-piece The Iyah Band and eats from Madrid hotspot The Hollar.
Bring your spectacles.