Wednesday, November 24, 2021
Exhibits of small works of art are a must-see during the holiday season. On display until January 15, 2022 at Paper Nautilus Books on Wayland Square, Small Doses offers a collection of modest-sized contemporary works of art that reinterprets the idea of an exhibition of small works. Curated by Barbara Owen of Periphery Space, this exhibition features an engaging collection of works by fifteen talented local artists in one of the city’s most beloved bookstores.
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Small Doses includes a wonderful variety of media, from printmaking and painting to collage and drawing. Works executed in watercolor are at home alongside monotypes, etchings and typographic prints. Although small in size, the works on display are interesting and worth considering. They delightfully show a range of subjects that catch the attention of contemporary art creators.
In the mixed media works of Mara Metcalf, the familiar aesthetic of the chain link fence is combined with more organic forms to probe the space. A longtime professor at the School of the Museum of Fine Arts at Tufts University in Boston, Metcalf is exhibited extensively and his work can be found in the collection of the RISD Museum, among others. Another multi-part work on display is “Lady Garden” by Sonja Czekalski. Incorporating wallpaper, dried flowers, lace and steel wire, the piece offers a view of the artistic creation process of one of the most talented members of Rhode Island’s younger generation of artists. A former RIC student, Czekalski is director of the Hera gallery in Wakefield.
While the fine details of mixed media are expertly exhibited in the works of Metcalf or Czekalski, other pieces are a little more impactful. The painting titled “Lemon Chiffon” by Willa Van Nostrand is lively, luminous and pleasantly tart. The texts of typographic engraver Dan Wood illustrate the power of language. In one piece, a quote from A. Bartlett Giamatti talks about baseball in a spherical format. Van Nostrand and Wood are both artists based in Providence. Van Nostrand operates the World’s Fair Gallery on Broadway and Wood is the owner of DWRI Letterpress, a commercial and art printing house.
Yet other works by Small Doses pick up on the theme of subtlety itself. Lisa Perez’s watercolors are calm, meditative, and muted. Inspired by nature, Perez’s work is beautiful and thoughtful. Perez, who received her MA in Fine Arts from the University of California, Berkeley, is an arts educator whose work can be found in many collections, including the RISD Museum and the Newport Art Museum.
Another of the commendable watercolors in the exhibition is “Girl Emerging Girl Hiding” by Shari Weschler, a work that shows the themes of transformation and change that populate much of Weschler’s production as an artist. Seeing Weschler’s work on such a small scale and on such a delicate medium is a pleasant start. In addition to his artistic work, Weschler is the creative force behind the Coastal Contemporary Gallery in Newport.
Alongside Weschler, the works of Josh Baptista also offer an illustrative sensibility. One of Baptista’s untitled works in the exhibition contains seemingly malleable architectural forms that seem to leap from their two-dimensional limits. Baptista, who received his MFA from American University in Washington DC, masterfully uses ink and line to define and shape space and surface.
Neatly arranged on a wide, unbroken wall above a staircase in the space, Small Doses draws viewers across the well-stocked bookstore. The works included in this special exhibition, in addition to being of a high artistic caliber, are also distinguished by their affordability and accessibility.
Located at 80 Fountain Street in Pawtucket until 2017, Periphery Space was a dedicated exhibition space designed by Barbara Owen. Owen currently holds regular exhibitions under the Periphery Space banner at Paper Nautilus Books, a Wayland Square institution since 1996. In the store description, Paper Nautilus is billed as “specializing in rare and recent books, art, ephemeral and various miscellaneous objects ”.
The partnership between Periphery Space and Paper Nautilus offers art lovers and bibliophiles an engaging straddle. It should be noted that in addition to the art exhibition curated by Owen, Paper Nautilus is also home to a fantastic and well-chosen selection of art-oriented books. It’s the perfect place to find inspiration on the walls as well as on the shelves.
Small Doses can be viewed at Paper Nautilus Books at 19 South Angell Street in Providence until January 15, 2022. Paper Nautilus is open Sunday through Tuesday, 12 p.m. to 5 p.m. daily, and Wednesday through Saturday, 11 a.m. to 7 p.m. every day.
To learn more about Periphery Space, visit www.peripheryspace.com.
To learn more about Paper Nautilus Books, visit www.papernautilusbooks.com.