Small works exhibit at Arts Space Obispo

The Tribune

The small works exhibit at Arts Space Obispo presented a challenge for some artists but was business as usual for others.

Restricting entries to 6-by-6 inches put Deb Spatafore to the test, as she usually works with an 18-by-24 or 24-by-36 format.

“It's a complicated and foreign scale,” she said. “Most artists aren't miniaturists. They don't paint that small.”

Spatafore initially tried to reproduce some of her work on a smaller scale, but was not satisfied with the results. Eventually the San Lis Obispo artist opted to eliminate the outer portions of some of her compositions to achieve the required dimensions. She ending up with “Cudgle,” a close-up portrait in pastel.

Morro Bay painter Chet Amyx has no patience with artists who complained about the size limitation.

“If you're an artist, there's a challenge, you deal with it,” he said. Although Amyx has worked large in the past, such as 7-by-12-foot three-dimension canvas on wood sculptures, he has reversed direction. In fact, Amyx considers his occasional half-sheet watercolor to be large. Amyx currently paints 4-inch works as travel pieces, and was amused about the 6-inch requisite for the exhibit. “Ironically, I've been doing these actually for a long time.” His entry, a watercolor, is titled “Hollister Peak.”

His wife, the ceramicist and Cuesta College instructor Guyla Amyx, has also reduced the size of her pottery over the years. “I was more of a large-scale sculptor,” she said of her younger days, when her work served as a catharsis for her angst. “Now I don't care to schlep 500-pound sculptures around.” Also, pleasure has replaced anger as a motivating force. Amyx's entry in the show, part of a series, is a carved porcelain tile, “Nirvana Chakra.”

For Los Osos woodworker Jim Amberg, gravitating toward smaller work occurred in part because larger pieces were taking their toll on his back. “The same principles to build something 6 feet tall applies to something 6 inches tall,” he said. The 6-by 6 jewelry box in the show is larger than what he usually builds “That's not quite as small as I go, but close to it,” Amberg said. “That's the most detail I've put into something that small, so it was a challenge,” he added. Amberg doesn't consider woodworking to be far removed from his former career as an accountant. “It's still numbers,” he said.

In addition to the 100-plus pieces in the small works show, Arts Space Obispo is showing a digital presentation of artwork by all 252 artists on this year’s Open Studios Art Tour. Combined with Arts Obispo's online visual Artists’ Directory ( ) viewers can get a larger view of what they might see on this year's tour.