Final Fridays are, in Cincinnati, a big deal. The massive Pendleton Art Gallery features a ton of art studios that open to the public for viewing, the gigantic Cincinnati Art Museum up on the hill hosts Art After Dark to scores of people ready to enjoy their multi-level offerings, and the Art Academy and many of the shops along Main Street OTR feature thousands of combined square feet of content for interested Final Friday participants. But even though Cincinnati prides itself on having a huge art scene by having myriad venues to enjoy all of it, there’s one tiny gallery making a delicate and deliberate ripple in lieu of giant waves. Instead of a 2000 square foot street-level gallery with high ceilings and refurbished wooden floors, Ledge Gallery opts for, you guessed it, a single 60 by 3.25-inch ledge halfway up a spiral metal staircase inside a 400 square foot loft.
Ledge Gallery is the creation of Maya Drozdz, the resident living in the loft Ledge Gallery exists within. A former New Yorker comfortable with a conservative amount of living space, Maya started Ledge Gallery as a way to showcase tiny art within a self-aware realm. Ledge Gallery is one half playful commentary on understood art gallery standards and one half serious way to showcase miniature art with a large amount of detail. It’s a perfectly scaled version of other Final Friday offerings without sacrificing quality and while enhancing the fun. Petite wine bottles and Sprite cans wait to be poured into 1 ounce cups and the tiniest olives, crackers, candy and slices of cheese are laid out perfectly on a small table next to the narrow spiral staircase leading to up to Ledge. Along with those things, complimentary 3 inch multicolored magnifying glasses fill a bowl next to the refreshments waiting for gallery-goers. Little signs adorn prominent parts of the loft, indicating the exit (front door), smoking patio (fire escape), and even ADA-compliant signage to remind people to wash their hands in the tiny bathroom. A huge amount of attention was paid to such little details that the effort beyond Ledge Gallery is a work of art itself.
The gallery’s first show, #tinytownaf, was this past Friday and featured the work of Maya herself; miniature photographs of tiny things accompanied by extremely small didactic panels with text I can only assume is .0001 point font. Along with the photography were tiny objects, such as a pint-sized salt spoon and snail shell, each with their own descriptions. The gallery was packed with people and laughter the whole time I was there. To say I’ve been to something like this before would be an outright lie; Ledge Gallery is a wholly unique experience that separates itself from other venues in a distinct, brilliant way. Maya’s embracing of a small space and transforming it into something that exists within the purgatory of private residence and public art sphere is simultaneously fun, brave, weird, and exotic. It’s masterfully organized and executed and one of the strangest art projects I’ve witnessed in a while.
I have no idea what Ledge Gallery will do from here, but I’m going to be visiting it every Final Friday from now on. It’s just too unique to pass up. Follow it on social media (Facebook and Instagram) to keep up with what’s going on that month, and if you did go to #tinytownaf, be a human and tell Maya how great it was.
Below is a collection of photos of Ledge Gallery from its opening night. All photos were taken by Maya (my personal set of photos got wiped by accident).