Visiting The Mansion At Strathmore in Bethesda

On Nov. 19 I had the opportunity to attend the opening reception for two art shows — both at The Mansion at Strathmore in North Bethesda, Maryland. The first show, Large Scale: Miniature Artists Go Big, is on the main floor of the Mansion. The 84th International Exhibition of Fine Art in Miniature is located on the second floor. What impressive shows — both of them!

I have four 3D paper sculpture pieces, including Hanging Out At the Beach, Paper Shells, In the Jungle and Mr. Rooster, that are part of the large-scale exhibition. In the miniature show, I have one small rabbit named Hopscotch on display. Hopscotch is so small he fits under a glass dome and wooden base measures 3.25” high by 2.75”.

The oldest miniature art society in the United States, Miniature Painters, Sculptors & Gravers Society of Washington, D.C., has their annual show at the Mansion at Strathmore. This year, miniature artists were invited to also display their larger pieces during the same time frame. So this was a real treat to be able to see so many of the miniature artists also showing their large-scale pieces. What an exciting contrast!

Miniature art is a detailed and specialized art form. Everything about the artwork is in miniature — the subject is to one-sixth scale. The brush strokes and details are so fine and precise that the art will hold up even when significantly enlarged. The maximum overall area of the image is only 25 square inches and the outside frame can not exceed 56 square inches.

I think it is when you go to see your first miniature art show in person, that is when you can really start to appreciate this special type of art and will get hooked. I am always in awe of all the wonderful little treasures on view. I find it so fun and intriguing to see the art — examining them underneath the magnifying glasses the exhibition provides for its visitors. How many galleries give you a magnifying glass to walk around to look at the art, examining the brush strokes, checking out, “How did they do that?” Looking to see if there is a tiny imperfection, of which there are none?

Viewing the show online and looking at the enlarged pictures on your phone or computer screen is great because it gives you the sense of exactly how well the miniature is painted and you can see that it holds up even when enlarged. But, it is really difficult to appreciate just how tiny these pieces truly are until you see them all in person at a miniature art show.

It is also fun to see what miniature artists bring to their larger scale artwork. (I work in both sizes — miniature and large scale — but I wasn’t sure how many other artists did.) The works on the first floor of the Mansion are around your typical sizes you see elsewhere — around 16” x 20” and some are so huge they take up entire walls. And the detail, wow! As I am becoming more familiar with the miniature artists, I can match up the artist to their style of painting when I see it. Recognizing a painter in both the miniature and larger scale works is fun to see.

I hope you are encouraged to visit a miniature art show or an art gallery near you. It is nice to support your local artists and bring a treasure back to your home to enjoy for years to come. Not to mention, art is the perfect holiday gift for anyone on your list!

Have you seen a miniature art show in person? Tell us all about it in the comments!