McKay Lenker Bayer has always loved miniatures and remembers making fairy gardens as a little girl, where her mom would leave tiny notes signed from the fairies in the small houses Bayer built.
“I love the magic and wonder that accompany tiny things, like they are a part of a tiny, fascinating world that I don’t know about,” Bayer said in an email interview.
This affinity for tiny objects led Bayer to create a miniature art exhibition she displayed on a small street corner for a college assignment, and from that moment, she was hooked.
Bayer is now the creator and head curator of Tiny Art Show, a community art project that displays collections of 3-by-3-inch or smaller artworks by local artists in various public locations throughout the area.
“We put as much time and care and effort into the exhibition as if it were normal sized,” Bayer said.
The artworks are hung a few inches from the ground on baseboards, accompanied by a tiny title card, mini artist statement, tiny booklets on the work and more, according to Bayer.
“My very favorite thing is to see the excitement on a person’s face when they discover the tiny show,” Bayer said. “We have also felt a lot of support from local businesses who allow us to use their space.”
Provo City Library will host the next Tiny Art Show, Annie Morgan Preece‘s “Bite Sized” exhibition, set to open Friday under the stairs on the main floor. “Bite Sized” is the fourth-ever Tiny Art Show, with the previous exhibitions having shown at Pioneer Book, Third Space Studios and Rockwell Ice Cream in Provo.
“I think Provo has a really amazing art scene, so getting to highlight that in some of our favorite locations in Provo has been a dream,” Bayer said.
Preece, a Utah-based oil painter who has loved making art from a young age, said the tiny paintings of food in her “Bite Sized” show were inspired by a typical New Year’s resolution.
“It seems like everyone makes a goal to eat better in the new year, especially after the rich decadence of the holidays,” Preece said in an email. “I’m kind of a foodie and have enjoyed painting beautiful food for years, so it felt like a perfect match.”
The artist said she hopes people who see the exhibition “appreciate the beauty inherent in fresh fruit.”
“Each berry and aril has a bright skin, almost bursting with flavor, and how often do we just pop a handful into our mouths without even really looking at them?” Preece said. “I think it’s worth remembering we eat with our eyes first, so enjoying how fresh fruit looks enhances the enjoyment of eventually eating it. Good food is beautiful food, and beautiful food is usually good food.”
Bayer, who works with photographer and graphic designer Drea Donaldson to carry out the Tiny Art Show project, said they are excited to feature Preece’s “beautiful and bright still life paintings,” which she thinks will fit well in the space at Provo City Library.
“We try to be very picky about where our tiny shows are located,” Bayer said. “We, of course, want to support and highlight the artists here. But I think something equally important is that we want to honor the amazing businesses and landmarks in Provo as well.”
The Tiny Art Show project also makes buying local art “affordable and fun,” Bayer said. The first three exhibitions sold out except for one painting, according to the head curator.
“I’ve met several people who have started ‘tiny art’ collections,” Bayer said. “Especially being in a college town, a lot of young people don’t have hundreds or thousands of dollars they can budget towards collecting art, even if they wish they did. The art we show ranges in price from $20-$75.”
Preece said she first heard about the Tiny Art Show project through an Instagram post a friend and fellow artist shared, and she “couldn’t get enough.”
“It’s so fun and clever and approachable,” Preece said. “Sometimes art can feel a little stuffy and stiff, but Tiny Art Show makes (it) accessible and enjoyable. I also love how the scale makes it feel special. I enjoy working small and loved the idea of doing a whole collection of tiny paintings that would hang together. Tiny Art Show makes that possible in such a great way.”