They say good things come in small packages, which is certainly true of a gallery in Boston. Like other galleries and museums shuttered during the pandemic, it's had to resort to presenting work online, but with a significant twist: The space only measures 20 by 30 inches.
Welcome to Shelter In Place gallery, the creation of Eben Haines, a painter who is also an exhibition designer at Boston's Museum of Fine Arts (MFA). As he told the art website Hyperallergic, the project began after he lost his job back in March, when the museum closed and furloughed its staff.
Like so many artists, Haines found himself stuck at home, away from his studio. His solution was to launch SIP, which he describes as "as a new platform for Boston artists" on his Instagram account.
SIP was inspired by Haines’s participation in a 2018 group show in Minneapolis titled "Art Fair." In something of a send-up of the eponymous mega events that have come to dominate the art world, each artist had to fit their work into an "art fair booth:" A ten-by-ten inch box painted white. Haines realized that a scale-model space could also serve as a tool for his practice going forward; it would let him envision how large pieces would look in an actual exhibition setting by fashioning them first in miniature. And so he created the model that later became SIP.
Once the quarantine began, he started to invite artists to present Lilliputian paintings, sculptures and installations for the showcase, which he'd photograph and post on Instagram. Thanks to such miniaturized industrial-space-turned-gallery details as painted brick walls, windows, skylights, wooden floorboards and ceiling trusses, the images, which are shot in natural light, appear amazingly lifelike, as if they were of a real exhibition—proof that even in these constricted times, imagination has no limits.