Flynn´s embellished VW is part of the first anniversary show now up at Boise´s Visual Arts Collective, a progressive gallery that made a name for itself with an unthinkable amount of work and an equal amount of passion. Owners Samuel and Anneliessa Stimpert have been on the scene every day bringing their original vision to life -- that of a vibrant community center promoting art, music, theater and anything else that adds color to local culture.
"We just want it to be stuff that´s forward thinking, that pushes the boundaries of what has been available in Boise," said Samuel Stimpert.
Called "Small," the current exhibition does just that. Ten local artists (Angela Katona-Bachelor, Laurie Blakeslee, Kevin Flynn, Francis Fox, Sylvia Hamilton, Nels Jensen, Sue Latta, Amanda Riley, Samuel F. Stimpert and Flint Weisser) created pieces that are small on materials and big on effect. It was a rewarding challenge for them to work on a limited scale, but the real heart of the show is the idea of making fine art available to everyone.
"I do giant cast metal stuff that´s $4,000 in materials alone. That´s already out of my friends´ price range before I put any work into it," Stimpert said. "The max price (for ´Small´) will be $250. We want people to pick up art they like even if they´re not rich."
One of the first things those people will see is Flynn´s bus encrusted with original ceramics, photographs and found objects. While the van itself is imposing, it is filled and covered with pieces that can be held in one hand, some plain and functional, others whimsical. Most cost less than $50.
Francis Fox, a Boise State professor and well-known sculptor (represented by Stewart Gallery), contrasts the heavy, earthy feel of Flynn´s piece with the weightlessness of virtual reality. Projecting from the round centers of stark white squares, tiny optical illusions challenge the eye and the mind. Fox hung them together as a single, wall-sized image called "Transom," which will complete the cycle from small pieces to one big piece and back to small as fragments are sold.
"It´s kind of funny, because everything is big in this show," Flynn said, pointing out that many of the pint-sized pieces are displayed like integral parts of larger installations. "I got a chance to experiment with something I wouldn´t see in another context."
Stimpert´s contribution to the show uses similar spatial interplay. A large painting is covered by rounded aluminum casts of tiny, true-to-life gas masks, guns and tread from combat boots. As each small sculpture is removed, the underlying work will be revealed, but until the last piece is gone it remains in a constant state of flux.
While it may seem there isn´t much meaning behind these small works aside from their smallness, it´s all about how close the viewer is willing to look. Stimpert´s military images, for instance, were cast from exact replicas of U.S. Army infantry gear made for an action figure -- a toy. This aspect alone is a wellspring of commentary on violence, hypocrisy and propaganda.
Fox chose the name "Transom" because it refers to windows above doors, which he calls a "transition place." This taps into the idea of dimensions, the dynamics between objects and real versus unreal.
From a distance, Sue Latta´s cast resin pieces could just be lovely splashes of color. If you look closer, you´ll notice the intricacy of her designs as well as screen-printed writing, embedded metals and other things under the surface. All of the work in "Small" involves such physical and interpretive layers as well as the overriding topic of space, but the beauty is, admirers will be able to purchase what they want for a small price, however it speaks to them.
"This is about all of us being crazy artists and wanting something to be more, making small grandiose," Stimpert said, "but it´s more about the regular guy getting to take something home."
Go see it
Through Oct. 31
Visual Arts Collective
1419 W. Grove St.