Sunday 10 April 2016

Small Feats Sunday April 10 2016 

As always with Small Feats, what really strikes me is the sheer variety.  Given that there are 200 works in the show and on average each artist has submitted three pictures, even I, with my limited capacity for arithmetic, can tell that there must be between 60 and 70 points of view represented.
   When I come to Small Feats each year I like to select a few pictures as my favourite and actually buy one.  I am trying to economise at the moment and in any case I picked up a dozen pictures for free at the memorial service for George Sanders, an artist whom I greatly admire and from whom I bought a half dozen pictures in his lifetime, so I am not buying a picture at Small Feats this year.  But if I were I would have a hard time to make a choice.
   In spite of the variety there are certain themes that tend to turn up.  I was struck by the news, some years ago, that when one monkey starts washing a potato before eating it, pretty soon all the monkeys start doing it, even ones who have no contact with the innovative monkey, although none did it before.  And one of the few things I remember from my course in philology is that when people start making a grammatical mistake it occurs across an entire generation and ends up as accepted usage.  So in any group of sentient beings telepathy is definitely at work and this seems to be the case here.
   The animal kingdom, especially birds, seems to be represented in this show at a level above chance.  There is a whole series of crowned owls poised above excerpts from Machiavelli, there are several brightly coloured parrots, there is a songbird depicted with detailed realism and one young woman is shown cuddling a goose against a background of flowers.  But animals also appear.  The same young woman is shown cuddling a fox against a background of flowers, a bear appears with a Russian hat, there are two charming squirrels back to back, and I particularly liked a picture of a horse's head and mane depicted in a variety of vibrant and quite unrealistic colours and wildly flowing brush strokes.  Also very appealing was a painted skull with embroidered flowers.
   Even so these are not the pictures for which I would have lashed out $200 each, that being the set price.  That accolade would have gone to one of three truly beautiful pictures of sunrise and sunsets over Lake Ontario.  But that is my personal preference and there is something for  pretty well every taste, which is just as well, given that this is a fundraiser.  I hope it is a successful one.


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