Small Art Spring Fling

2 Sugars
Shanan Custer and Carolyn Pool in “2 Sugars, Room for Cream”

Artist Name: Laura Holway (curator)

Piece Name: Small Art Spring Fling

Venue Name: Laura’s home

Show Date: April 24, 2015

Reviewer: Non Edwards

Laura’s website is great for browsing; her blog is interesting, intimate, and helpful. I get a sense of what she wants to do with her work and why she is focused on gathering, curating, facilitating, and sharing.

Small Art is most successful in its presentation. It has a homey feel; when you turn onto 27th, it is obvious which house is hosting the show. Laura’s home glows with light and warmth. Inside there are fresh-baked cookies, wine, and other refreshments. People are gathered in three rooms, chatting, seated on the couch, on chairs, leaning against the refrigerator, in doorways. Promotional materials encourage you to “talk to someone new,” and I do. The evening is billed as a party-like performance emphasizing connection and community. The audience is small and intimate (capped at 20, but it looked like fewer). Everyone is chummy. It’s pleasant.

I am more interested in Laura as an artist, writer, and curator than I am in the artists she has chosen to present at the Small Art Spring Fling. Taylor Baldry’s “Conversationalist’s Cafe” annoys me. Rather than facilitating, he interrupts and derails natural conversations. Is this an intentional outcome, mimicking a server uncomfortably hovering around the dinner table while you are trying to catch up and gossip with your friends? There is no question that Craig VanDerSchaegen is a talented portrait photographer, but the audio produced by converting his photographs to sound is less impressive. Brian Beatty recites poetry over top of this audio. This collaboration doesn’t strike any chords for me. Carolyn Pool and Shanan Custer break up the evenness of the evening with excerpts from their boisterous play 2 Sugars, Room for Cream. They are funny; their timing is good. It makes sense that this play has had sustained success-it won an Ivey Award in 2013 and is scheduled for a residency in Alexandria this summer. I would like to see more of their work.

I have to say I felt that $16.52 ($15 + brownpapertickets.com fees) was a steep ticket price for this show, especially considering I saw Annie Enneking and Sam Johns’s What I Want Now I Will Want Later the same weekend for $10 cash. At least Small Art did not leave me feeling depressed, like many shows do.

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