Less is more

Small works make a big impact in “Enormous Tiny Art”

With its relative affordability and accessibility, Nahcotta’s “Enormous Tiny Art” show has turned many art lovers into art collectors over the years. More than 40 artists, from nearby and around the world, contribute six to eight original works measuring 10 by 10 inches or smaller. It all adds up to a gallery completely full of art for everyone.

The 18th biannual show of “Enormous Tiny Art” opens with a reception on Friday, Sept. 4, from 5 to 8 p.m., in conjunction with Art ’Round Town, Portsmouth’s self-guided gallery tour. What follows is a preview with just some of the many artists featured in this season’s show.

The new series of encaustic paintings by Portsmouth artist Emma Ashby, called “Seasons on the Pond,” is a collection of fleeting moments, forever encapsulated in wax. Inspired by the glory of nature and its constant changes, she uses sculptural forms and vibrant pigments to hold on to the view of the pond she can see through her studio window.

Liza Corbett’s drawings and paintings contemplate “The Summer-Land,” an unseen spirit world. The New York artist creates visual narratives populated with otherworldly women and animals. Dark and dramatic, there’s a beautiful melancholy in them. Influenced by 19th-century spiritualism, Dark Romanticism, myths, fables, and old tales, she aims to make images that suggest a strange and unknown significance underlying our existence.

Local artist Michael Dandley continues his series highlighting the odd and unsettling ways industry reconfigures land and threatens the delicate balance of the ecosystem. Whether about pollution, climate change, or loss of habitat and natural beauty, each of the immaculate paintings illustrates a way modern conveniences today will cost us tomorrow. Dandley is also an assistant curator at Nahcotta.

Kim Ferreira’s new acrylic paintings were directly inspired by a passage in “An Island Garden” by Celia Thaxter. The author described the journey from Portsmouth with her precious seedlings and household belongings out to her summer home on Appledore Island on a small steam tug. She wrote, “… A pretty sight is the little vessel when she starts out from the old brown wharves and steams away down the Piscataqua River, with her hurricane deck awave with green leaves and flowers, for all the world like a May Day procession.” Like Thaxter, the Portsmouth artist says, “I am obsessed with my garden.”

Exeter artist Kiele Gregoire looks to the sea with a childhood fascination and an adult passion. “I feel a strong connection to the way the sea can reflect human emotion,” she said. “My inclination to freeze time and hold onto these moments amidst the ocean’s rapid changes drives my work. I’m always interested in its elusive movement, and this time, more specifically, I’m exploring those shifting shapes and the dense pockets of space they create.” Her graphic design experience plays into her work, adding to her love for color and conceptual expression.

"Tent VIII" by Tara Morin, part of the Enormous Tiny Art show at Nahcotta in Portsmouth.

Tent VIII by Tara Morin, part of the Enormous Tiny Art show at Nahcotta in Portsmouth.

Tara Morin’s mixed-media sculptures consider dwelling spaces. “Having moved around a lot during my life, I am interested in the concept of home. For the past few years, I have been playing with the idea of pocket dwellings, tiny spaces that one can carry with them that still evoke a sense of a sanctuary,” the coastal Maine artist and teacher said. “While the tents are tiny, I find that people are still able to project themselves into the space using their imagination, and that in doing so, they feel a sense of calm and security. The tents are essentially tiny blanket forts for grown-ups, a place to escape, seek refuge, and quiet the mind.”

Ned Roche and Cait Guinta are the co-owners of Chases Garage artist studios and gallery in York, Maine. Roche’s “Things” appear to walk right out of folded slabs of clay. These amorphous forms take on the likes of buffalo, anteaters, pigs, bears, squirrels, foxes, hippos and the creatures from our dreams. Giunta’s “Planet” series is a prompt to think beyond ourselves. “We forget that there is a universe and we are just a part of it,” she said. These round ceramic sculptures are made to hang on a wall, where they can remind us.

Diana Sudyka’s work is heavily influenced by folk art traditions and a deep interest in natural history. Her new paintings feature common animals that seem imbued with a talismanic power or spiritual quality. She is an illustrator from Chicago, who has worked on award-winning children’s books as well as materials for musicians, including Andrew Bird, St. Vincent, The Black Keys, Iron & Wine, and The Decemberists.

Nahcotta is located at 110 Congress St., Portsmouth. The show of “Enormous Tiny Art” is on view till Sept. 27, and the artwork is also available online at enormoustinyart.com.