Art We Love & Why – Less Is More

Art can be like real estate – you get used to paying by the square foot and to thinking that bigger is better. Walking around the galleries this week, I was struck by how many works of small scale were grabbing my attention. Some of the pieces here are downright tiny (think postage stamp or silver dollar), but that doesn’t diminish their power or beauty. And who ever complained about a diamond being only the size of a walnut?

 

Dina Brodsky, Cycling Guide to Liliput 70 (oil on copper, 1.75”), William Scott Gallery

Dina Brodsky, Cycling Guide to Liliput 70 (oil on copper, 1.75”), William Scott Gallery

Dina Brodsky’s landscapes are transporting. You can almost breathe the air of a crisp fall afternoon in a marsh or the heavy, humid atmosphere of a summer storm approaching. Her sweeping vistas have an astonishing sense of place. This piece with its luminous sky and towering trees could be taken for an epic landscape of the Hudson River School. But unlike those grand paintings of old, this one is approximately the size of a golf ball. Almost unbelievable and utterly wonderous.

Pete Hocking, Ramble On No. 4 (oil on panel, 8” x 8”), Four Eleven Gallery

Pete Hocking, Ramble On No. 4 (oil on panel, 8” x 8”), Four Eleven Gallery

I’ll start by admitting that Pete Hocking’s landscapes are among my favorite paintings of any kind. He makes every brushstroke count and manages to make it all look easy. He also knows how to frame a scene. The combination of his energetic brushwork and pitch-perfect compositions gives his work both balance and drama. He captures all the glories of the Outer Cape whether the piece is “sofa-sized” or, as in this case, about the size of your iPad.

 

Robert Cardinal, North Truro (oil on canvas, 5” x 7”), Kiley Court Gallery

Robert Cardinal, North Truro (oil on canvas, 5” x 7”), Kiley Court Gallery

The magical light of an early morning or sunset on Cape Cod seems to be Robert Cardinal’s native language. There’s the old trope that Eskimos have 50 words for snow, and Cardinal seems to have a limitless palate for capturing the light here. And although a solitary building or boat is typically the dominant feature of his compositions, for me he’s really painting the light. This piece is powerfully atmospheric with golden light bathing the looming cottage, yet it’s small enough to slip into your back pocket.

 

Arthur Diehl, Untitled (oil on artist board, 1” x 2”), Hammock Gallery

Arthur Diehl, Untitled (oil on artist board, 1” x 2”), Hammock Gallery

Here’s everything you could want in a classic Provincetown plein air painting. The instantly recognizable spire, seagulls swirling around a boat at the pier, and gorgeous dabs of paint loosely applied to make the whole thing sing. Arthur Diehl was one of the luminaries in the early days of the Provincetown art colony, and you can’t help but feel he was just plain showing off with this piece. Why? Because this painting is barely bigger than a postage stamp. You could hold it in your palm and have room to close your hand around it. Which I’m sorely tempted to do.

 

George Rogers is an artist and ceramicist. After a career in museums including the MFA in Boston and the Smithsonian, he and his husband moved to Provincetown full time four years ago.

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