"Reach Inside the Eye of Your Mind" by Tex Crawford
Located at 174 Cleveland Ave. with only 174 square feet of space, the tiny ATH gallery has made dynamic use of the descriptor “tiny.” The space originally served and still functions as a design studio for gallerist and Hodgson School of Music Public Relations Director Camille Hayes. Taking inspiration from her position as a board member for the Athens Institute for Contemporary Art, a community supported space, Camille wanted to create a local economy oriented space through her studio, an interest that resulted in a vision of radical local artist support that jump-started in September with Will Eskridge and his show of acrylic paintings, “Central Nervous Breakdown.”
Camille has lived in the Athens area since her adoption and, within the last decade, has come to admire the innovative artist community that exists in Athens—a community that has sought to create financial stability for artists and musicians through mutual support and fair trade practices. This kind of network creates a model of interwoven funds that filter into a central network economy, rather than a competitive economy that seeks to create independent pockets of art patronage and sales. Thus far, Camille has received funding from the Athens Area Arts Council, and she hopes to continue garnering support through which she can exhibit and promote artists and art sales. In this way, tiny ATH gallery becomes a vivacious conduit of visual narrative for a plethora of artists’ practices.
For each show at tiny ATH, Camille takes a vigorous approach to promoting artists on social media, embracing a collaborative approach to exhibitions. This approach extends the gallerist-to-artist relationships after each artist’s show through follow-up social media showcases for artists’ exhibitions. This promotes artists’ work so they can generate sales based on their narrative and merit, rather than spontaneous viewer interest.
The artists showing at tiny ATH gallery have been diverse in their media and backgrounds, keeping the potential of the space vivacious and defying limits of space. Because the gallery is literally tiny, the entirety of the architecture must come into play to make a show successful. Tiny ATH has utilized windows, porch space and ceiling fixtures, and soon, it’ll utilize the front yard for a show that will feature Japanese-style birdhouses.
The diverse use of space can be seen in the upcoming exhibition of Tex Crawford, a self-taught artist whose work is born from the narratives of his life and the mythologies that he finds in the earth and everyday material. His work will feature items like “Reach inside the eye of your mind” from his “Samsonite Saturn Series,” which is a suitcase that responds to a vision of opening and seeing that Crawford had while moving through his everyday life. The inside of the suitcase is painted in saturated orange backgrounds with brilliant blue drawings filling all of the negative space. Two alien pillars stand out holding a seeing eye that bears the title of the piece, giving us the opportunity to have our own vision through our own experiences.
Crawford centers his creations around the way he centers his life: presentness to personal thoughts, visions and earthly connections. He focuses on positivity and receiving the energy found in the earth in response to both hardship and joy. His work uses the concept of petroglyphs—repeated symbols similar to hieroglyphs—but applies them to a drawing practice that actively utilizes the saturation of color and the energy of line to create kinetic form of visual mythology and vision-making. Crawford’s show demonstrates the mission and vision of tiny ATH gallery with his vivacious embrace of local materials, bolstering of local communities and use of sustainable, innovative arts practices.
Artists of any caliber embedded within the Athens arts community are encouraged to submit proposals for shows via the tiny ATH gallery website. Upcoming shows include Phil White’s surrealist photomontage work in January; a female fabric show in February featuring Paual Runyon, Barbette Houser and Heather Elisabeth; Jacob Wenzka’s ink work in “Ecumenopolis” for March; Broderick Flanigan (oils) and Travis Ward (photography and video) in separate April and May shows; Lisa Feeman’s June show “Shack & Awe” that will include mixed media work; and the Athens Area Arts Council members showcase that will open in July.
The opening reception for Crawford’s show will be Friday, Nov. 15 from 6–9 p.m. The gallery keeps minimal hours, and is only open for receptions and special events. Stay posted on upcoming events at tinyathgallery.com.
(tiny ATH gallery, 174 Cleveland Ave.) Swing by the gallery for a pop-up exhibition by local folk artist Tex Crawford. See Art Notes on p. 11.