In a riot of color, scores of small-scale paintings, sculptures, and mixed-media works line the walls of Fountain House Gallery in New York. The diminutive pieces and dozens of artists have been brought together for the gallery’s annual “Small Works” show, featuring pieces no larger than five by seven inches and, notably, no more than $100.
Each year, Fountain House Gallery presents this show not just to entice would-be collectors intimated by the wallet-lightening art market, but also to break barriers for artists living with mental illness. Here, in a welcoming environment, viewers can browse, buy, and take home works from an impressive number of creators. Included in this assortment are watercolors by self-taught artist L.B. Berman. Taking a minimalistic approach, she offers an array of elegant, biomorphic abstractions that call to mind reflective bodies of water, sunsets, and arid desert landscapes.
Also on view are delicate collages by Alyson Vega, who evokes the beach with patches of fabric pieced together with plant fiber she gathered on the shores of the Turks and Caicos Islands in the Caribbean. By contrast, wintry weather makes its presence felt in another piece, this one made of swatches of fabric cut from an overcoat. Boo Lynn Walsh, meanwhile, makes flower-shaped sculptures out of wire mesh. At once delicate and sturdy, these handmade flowers are formed of curves and ridges that fold in on themselves.
But all is not calm. Susan Spangenberg confronts viewers head-on with mixed-media works incorporating her medication. In Taking My Medication for a Walk (2016), she forms a stick figure holding a balloon made of the white and bright orange pills prescribed to her. In another piece, Let’s Play a Game I Win You Lose (2016), she has scratched out a tic-tac-toe game, its boxes filled with pills and small keys. Though small in stature, these more personal works feel like the artists are also offering a small piece of themselves.
“Small Works” is on view at Fountain House Gallery, New York, Oct. 27–Dec. 22, 2016.