Working small becomes big fun for local artists

An art tile by Margaret Jamison is seen at the Picture Lab.

An art tile by Margaret Jamison is seen at the Picture Lab. Photo by Greg Lehman.


WALLA WALLA — The assignment was simple: take 10 6- by 6-inch squares and create art.

Sixty-seven local artists rose to the challenge, creating work on small squares provided by ArtWalla.

Their artwork will be sold at silent auction this weekend as part of Walla Walla’s first-ever Art Squared event.

Marilee Schiff, who chaired the organizing committee and sits on the ArtWalla board, said many other arts organizations have put on similar events, challenging artists to create small square pieces and showcasing them together.

The format lent itself to many styles, including work in wax, pastels, watercolor and at

least one piece constructed with a gourd.

“It’s reflective of the creativity of artists in the community,” said Schiff.

Sculptor Sara Ybarra Lopez, who helped organize the event, said creating art in a small format was nerve-wracking at first.

After coming up with several ideas, she eventually grabbed a square and began to work.

“Painting is very new for me, so all my paintings have a sculptural element,” she said.

Once she started, Lopez said she had trouble stopping. She eventually made 10 pieces in the square format.

“There was nothing to be intimidated by. It was just fun,” she said.

Through her work on the organizing committee, she’s talked to other artists who participated and heard many of them say, “‘I didn’t think I could work that small, I didn’t think I could adapt to panel’ and then they just did.”

Art Squared participants range from professional artists whose works appear in galleries around the Northwest, to newer

artists who have never shown their work before.

In addition to the artistic challenge it provided many, the event allows these artists to connect and get to know each other.

“It’s a really great statement of community that everyone’s coming together,” said Schiff.

Each of the 670 pieces created for Art Squared will be sold for $36, with one-third of the money going to ArtWalla.

The silent auction will take place Friday night and includes several larger works by some participating artists.

Blue Mountain Spanish Sound, a guitar group, will also perform.

Schiff said ArtWalla hopes to begin an arts education program with the funding received from sales, though its exact nature

will depend on how much artwork is purchased.

The event, she said, is an opportunity for people to view art in a wide variety of styles and acquire an original piece without spending hundreds of dollars.

“There’s something very special about owning something that’s been created by someone else’s hands,” she said.

“It’s an opportunity for people to come together in celebration of what is created … out of the imagination of the artist.”


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