Eye Candy (38)

By: Peggy Nelson
August 25, 2020

Eben Haines

In this, our summer of COVID-19, Eye Candy observes that our lives have become very small. Things we were in the habit of doing: suspended. People we were in the habit of seeing: distanced. Places we were in the habit of going: still. The day of the carefree locust is gone, the year of the ant is here.

But one enterprising Boston artist has made a virtue of constraint: painter Eben Haines has opened Shelter in Place Gallery, a shoebox-sized IRL gallery that showcases tiny works on Instagram.

Jennifer Liston Munson

Using a maquette he built that measures only 20 x 30 inches, Haines and his co-gallerist Delaney Dameron put out a call for Boston-based artists to submit work, with a twist. It had to fit in the gallery, which meant that artists were asked to create something in 1:12 scale, or 1 inch = 1 foot. And these somethings had to be real. Despite being viewable only online, the gallery showcases real objets d’art, not JPGs of larger works; and crucially, the gallery images are not themselves photoshopped, but are a photo documentation of each exhibit in the space.

< Lavaughan Jenkins[/caption]

liz nofziger

Katelyn Ledford

From the website:

When the pandemic hit, and stay at home orders went into place, it became clear that many artists might not be able to make or show work for some time. The miniature scale of the gallery works to counteract this in a multitude of ways, most notably the fact that being small means that artists don’t necessarily need access to their studios to create work, and can do so from home. Even without studios, artists are able to make much more ambitious work than they could ever afford to at full scale, let alone have shown in a commercial gallery in Boston. Hopefully we allow people to make the work they’ve always wanted to make.

Each exhibit is shipped to the gallery and installed, where it remains up for 3-4 days, generously documented for a series of posts on Instagram. The posts that show the unpacking and setting up of each exhibit are one of Eye Candy’s favorite parts of the process; from proper tiny art-shipping crates, to acid-free paper and string, to a tiny table holding the gallerist’s laptop and mug, to the carefully chiaroscuro’d effect of the afternoon sun streaming through the windows, no detail is overlooked or undervalued.

Installation shot for “Craft School” group show

And not unlike ants themselves, the work, despite its small size, is incredibly strong: the quality on display easily rivals that of any life-sized white cube.

Brett Angell

Peter Kazantsev

And if you are a Boston-based artist yourself? Eye Candy encourages you to “think small”: as of this writing, submissions are open.


Eben Haines: Instagram
Delaney Dameron: Twitter
Shelter in Place Gallery: Instagram, website, submissions