Gallery 21’s Small Image Show has been a staple in Balboa Park for nearly four decades
By Dave Fidlin | SDUN Reporter
Whether it is an avant-garde baby-headed sculpture or a traditional woodwork monument, nothing is off limits at the Small Image Show — so long as the artwork is, um, small.
Gallery 21, a venerable Balboa Park-based facility, is again hosting this year’s Small Image Show, which is entering its 39th year in the city. Staying true to its mission, organizers behind the show have been encouraging artists from all walks of life to showcase their creations in this juried exhibit.
“This is, quite simply, a show with small pieces,” said Elizabeth Woolrych, who is considered one of the show’s senior members. Woolrych has participated in the show for about 20 years. At times, she has chaired the event.
This year’s show has a range of pieces — some expressing a particular social cause and others designed to depict a carefree attitude. Woolrych said just about every form of artwork is on display at this year’s show, including mixed media, jewelry and woodworking.
The Small Image Show might come but once a year. Woolrych, however, emphasized planning is a yearlong process that includes open invitations to the San Diego art community and the selection of a juror who reviews each entrant’s piece.
This year, the show’s organizers are drawing on the expertise of Helen Wilson, an internationally exhibited artist who holds a master’s degree in fine arts from the San Francisco Art Institute.
Wilson currently teaches art, sculpture and foundry courses at Palomar College in San Marcos, Calif. She also frequently holds workshops in drawing, dry-point printmaking and mixed media at venues throughout the state.
“We’ve always thought it was important to have an independent juror look at all of the entries,” Woolrych said. “We try to go back and forth between a lot of different people. Sometimes, it’s a well-known artist; other times, it’s the curator of a museum.”
Four cash awards will be presented at this year’s show, and Woolrych said details of each winner remain under wraps until the opening reception, on Saturday, Feb. 1.
Wilson has selected a first-place winner, who will receive $300, a second-place winner at $200, a third-place winner at $100 and the recipient of the Leslie von Kolb Memorial Award, who also will receive $100.
Each artist’s exhibition is available for purchase. Woolrych said art collectors frequently visit the show and oftentimes have an opportunity to meet with the artists themselves.
At its height, participation in the Small Image Show hovered around 400 entrants. More recently, Woolrych said the numbers have dwindled down to about 250 entrants — a scenario she attributes to greater diversification in art shows and venues across the San Diego area.
Gallery 21, located within Balboa Park’s Spanish Village Art Center, has been around nearly as long as the Small Image Show itself.
Patrick Cowan, director of Gallery 21, said the Small Image Show is a perfect compliment to the venue’s mission.
“We consider ourselves an outreach gallery,” said Cowan, who has been at the helm of Gallery 21 for three years. “Like anything else we offer, [the show] is a great way for up-and-coming artists to show their work. The entry fees are low and reasonable.”
Once the Small Image Show ends its 39th annual run in early March, Gallery 21 has a number of other exhibitions on tap, including the Pastel Society’s 28th annual open juried show from Wednesday, April 2 to Monday, April 14.
Woolrych, who this year has entered a piece depicting a teapot sculpture with windows, said the Small Image Show has been a time-honored tradition many San Diegan artists have come to appreciate.
“The timing seems just perfect because it’s right after the holidays,” she said. “There’s not a lot going on right now. It’s a good time to fool around and have some creative fun.”
AT A GLANCE
WHAT: 39th annual Small Image Show
WHEN: 11 a.m. to 4 p.m. daily from Friday, Jan. 31 to Sunday, March 2; opening reception 4:30 to 7:30 p.m. Saturday, Feb. 1
WHERE: Gallery 21 within Spanish Village Art Center at Balboa Park, 1770 Village Place
INFORMATION: gallery21art.com or 619-233-9050