MiniMoCA, a 1:6 miniature gallery of the Museum of Contemporary Art in Patchogue, officially opened in a ribbon-cutting ceremony on Saturday, July 17.
Artists Rob Stenzel, Roya Jenner, and Maya Kawachi were celebrated for a triumph of ingenuity and devotion to art—in all sizes.
“I had never built a structure from the ground up,” said Jenner, “but Rob had a great background in the precision needed, and Maya’s background in set building made her feel at home with power tools.”
Stenzel said of his background in miniatures, “Miniatures have been a fascination for me since I was a small child… My stepmother was a doll collector, so I was given my first dollhouse kit when I was 12, and immediately installed electricity.”
The three worked on the project in different shifts to accommodate specific needs; Stenzel has a photosensitivity disease, and this shift cycle proved to be efficient.
Jenner typically worked days, Stenzel nights, and Kawachi was at ease with either schedule and filled in as needed.
The idea came from a long-standing project already installed in Philadelphia with miniature galleries/libraries throughout the city.
“It’s a great interactive community piece,” said Kawachi, who trekked down from Westchester to provide her artistic and physical capabilities to bring the project to fruition.
The initial drawing of the gallery included geometric lines in etched panels, with grey being a dominant color scheme, along with the traditional white gallery walls.
Stenzel had faux-wood grey flooring leftover from another project that was a throwback to the life-size MoCA’s grey concrete floor.
Stenzel said, “We eventually decided on a two-part system with a drop-off and pickup kiosk in the main gallery. We really wanted to engage the general public as well, and encourage new and young artists to participate in the project. We are making miniature canvases and a variety of fine art papers available on the kiosk for people to take home and try out.”
“The tallest ‘visitor’ we can have in the gallery that is still in the correct ratio is a Barbie doll,” said Jenner. “Unfortunately, no American Girl dolls.”
The artwork in the mini gallery is a mix of pieces, both on loan and donated. The trio hopes to have enough artwork to rotate regularly.
While there are some pieces as small as 1 x 1.5 inches, most pieces are 3 x 5, or 4 x 4 inches, readily available for canvas sizes.
“We are looking to incorporate photography as well,” said Kawachi, “but it has to be small enough.”
Hoping to involve the community of all ages and abilities to create pieces to be displayed, as there is a 20-piece capacity in the mini gallery, Stenzel is actively developing open calls.
“Two-dimensional artwork smaller than 5 inches in either direction, and three-dimensional artwork that fits within a 2-x-2-inch footprint and is less than 8 inches tall are our only requirements. Besides artwork, every gallery needs visitors! The MiniMoCA is in playscale, and many fashion dolls and figurines come in this size, so we are inviting the community to get creative and make mini ‘virtual visitors’ as well,” said Stenzel.