Big Toe Gallery is an online art space dedicated to exhibiting and promoting emerging artists. We invite artists exploring internet culture or new digital technologies in their studio practice - whether visually, intellectually, or through process - to create an original digital work. During the exhibition’s length the created piece becomes the main visual component of the gallery’s home page. Four artists are exhibited yearly, each for a three month period. Each artist is given time to experiment and research ideas for their exhibition. Artists chosen are given creative freedom, although we encourage artists to use the flexibility of the online space to their advantage.
By establishing this gallery, we aim to generate a broader community of artists who are ordinarily scattered in different locations, unrecognized by the larger contemporary art world. This is done in the hopes of providing opportunities and support to young emerging artists. Our goal is to reach a wide variety of viewers outside of the traditional gallery setting, and to generate discussion around the implications and reach of web/digital artworks.
HANNAH DAVIS' work has shown at several locations including the Reinberger Galleries at the Cleveland Institute of Art, FORUM Artspace at the 78th Street Studios, and The Galleries at CSU. She is the recipient of several awards including the John Jackson ’77 Memorial Scholarship and the Ralph W. Woehrman '66 Scholarship in Drawing. Recent honors include attending residencies at Vermont Studio Center and Elsewhere Studios. Hannah earned her BFA in Drawing from the Cleveland Institute of Art in 2014.
She currently lives and works outside of Dallas, Texas.
BEN WEATHERS has shown work in various locations including Foley Gallery (NY), FORUM Artspace at 78th Street Studios (OH), Chautauqua Institution (NY), Reinberger Galleries at Cleveland Institute of Art (OH), and Mason Gross Galleries at Rutgers University (NJ). Ben has recieved awards including a Mason Gross Travel Grant, the Tepper Family Scholarship in Visual Arts, the Liza Noble ’48 Scholarship for Excellence in Painting, and the Frances Wise Lang and H. Jack Lang Scholarship for Painting. Ben has attended residencies at Brush Creek Ranch Foundation for the Arts (WY) and Vermont Studio Center (VT). Ben earned his BFA in Painting from the Cleveland Institute of Art (2014) and in 2017 earned his MFA from Mason Gross School of the Arts, Rutgers University.
Ben currently lives and works in Jersey City, NJ.
Shelley Picot’s artwork is a diary in code. She makes sculptures, drawings, and videos based on intimate daily thoughts, wrapping them in a private language made of images from her life and childhood. Dogs and deer, gentle hands and bob haircuts, home bits and school bits, comics and cartoons are among a growing library of images she reuses across pieces about protection and fear, intimacy and loneliness, family and death, and every last little thing she thinks about before she falls asleep.
Shelley has exhibited locally in the DC area at Betty Mae Kramer Gallery, Willow Street Gallery, Kaplan Gallery of VisArts, and the District of Columbia Arts Center, as well as nationally at AUTOMAT in Philadelphia, among others. Additional career highlights include receiving a Maryland State Arts Council individual artist grant in sculpture and attending a grant-supported residency at the Vermont Studio Center. Born in Alexandria, Virginia, she received her bachelor’s degree in studio art from Mount Holyoke College. She currently lives and works in Maryland outside Washington, DC.
MARCH 15 - MAY 31 2019
ARTIST WEBSITE / INSTAGRAM / INTERVIEW
George Blaha constructs images of paintings, assemblages, sculptures and interior spaces with 2 and 3-D software. This digital process allows him to philosophically explore and blur the boundaries between art and craft, the documentation of an object and the object itself, the unique and the mass-produced, and most importantly, the real and the virtual.
As we stand in a gallery viewing his work, the pieces depict seemingly "real" photographs of "real" artworks being shown in other "real" galleries, but none of these layers of "realness" exist. A practicing Buddhist for 30 years, his process is deeply informed by a daily spiritual discipline of meditation and contemplation. His work is infused with the essence of this passage from the Samadhiraja Sutra:
Know all things to be like this: A mirage, a cloud castle, A dream, an apparition, Without essence, but with qualities that can be seen.Chicago based artist George Blaha studied art history and philosophy at the University of Michigan and received his BFA from The School of the Art Institute of Chicago.
Blaha regularly shows at galleries in New York and Chicago. His work has been exhibited at museums and art centers across North America, including the Marsh Art Gallery at the University of Richmond Museums; Stedman Gallery at Rutgers-Camden Center for the Arts, Rutgers University; Tweed Museum of Art, University of Minnesota; Gibson Gallery at the Art Museum of SUNY; Gallery of Contemporary Art, University of Colorado; the Arts and Science Center for Southeastern Arkansas; Illinois State Museum; and University Galleries at Illinois State University.
His work is discussed in the exhibition catalogs for Portage; Contemporary Art and the Mathematical Instinct; and The UFO Show, as well as in Arts Magazine, New City, and the Chicago Tribune. Blaha is featured in Art Is: Speaking Portraits, George Quasha’s on-going web-based video research project investigating practitioners’ definition of what art is. George Blaha is the recipient of the Illinois Arts Council’s Individual Artist Support Professional Development Grant.
DECEMBER 7 - FEBRUARY 16 2019
ARTIST WEBSITE / INSTAGRAM
I often find myself returning to the politics of parody, whether it is reworking advertisements I see on my newsfeed or mimicking the wireframe of a modernist Eames chair in the shape of Ivanka Trump’s face.
I like to copy and paste historical and online fragments into new contexts, creating alternative narratives of the past and present. Many of these narratives take the form of a vertical scroll as a type of montage.
I learn the technical skills for most of my work from kids on YouTube.
After receiving a BFA in printmaking from Washington University in St. Louis, Kelsey Brod (b. 1991, Chicago) returned to her hometown and became involved with Chicago new media communities. During this time, Brod developed her practice exploring online culture and cybernetic history through video, performance, and net art. Brod expanded this practice at SUNY Purchase, where she received her MFA and is currently a master’s candidate of art history. Brod has shown around New York at Proto Gallery, September Gallery, and the Hudson Valley Museum of Contemporary Art.
FOREVER IS A FOUR LETTER WORD
SEPTEMBER 20 - DECEMBER 6 2018
The distinction between fantasy and reality is vague. We are inundated with fantasy daily, delivered to us through television, film, and music. We also construct private fantasies, which we manifest through simple actions such as telling a story or posting a picture online. As a visual artist, I am interested in the construction of these fantasies, both personal and communal, and what drives us towards this escapism. Amalgamating imagery from Popular Culture, Folklore, Religious Iconography, Archetypal Narrative, and Mediatic Tropes, my videos, installations, and performance works skew the idyllic ease of these fantasies. By inserting moments of absurdity, futility, and pain into these easily consumed images I complicate the viewer’s relationship to what is typically taken at face value. In my work, the subversion of these unreal constructions highlights the very real human vulnerabilities which drive us to create the fantasies that permeate our world.
Ben Oblivion (F.K.A. Ben Eberle) is an artist and attention whore based in Cleveland, Ohio. Working across a wide range of mediums, Ben creates works which blur the lines between the easily consumed and idyllic narratives of popular culture and harsh reality. Ben is a graduate of the Cleveland Institute of Art, and received his BFA in Sculpture + Expanded Media. Ben has shown work independently in galleries and art spaces across Northeast Ohio, including Ingenuity Fest 2017 and Maelstrom Collaborative Arts, as well as collaboratively at SPACES gallery alongside fellow performance artist Marcia Custer for their project Two Divorced Moms.
ARTIST WEBSITE / INSTAGRAM / INTERVIEW
Welcome to the world of Runetech, and the Valley of the Silent Immortals. I am Ravik, lord and creator of this planet. Using the virtual landscape as a facilitator, I explore the psychokinetic and handicraft elements of my world and its people. Using the implications of human presence embedded Runetech’s aesthetics I highlight the mythology, stories, and secrets that help contextualize Runetech’s past, present, and soon to be future. These moments of presence felt and seen shine a lens on the tactile and ephemeral qualities of Runetech post utopia setting. Join me as I explore these embers of memories, left by the both the inhabitants and Runetech itself – some spoken by far way echoes, some left behind as remnants of a lost civilization.
Born in West Palm Beach, FL, David Torres is interested in the history of stories where the unseen forces of morality are at work. The PTSD factor embedded in culture has drawn David's work to the idea of the “hero” as an empathic ideal for people to aspire to. David Torres is also interested in the illusion and delusional discussions that surround the complexities of the racial, sexual, religious, aging; old and young identities in culture. As a way of investigating these identities David Torres created “Riakman”, an alter ego, designed under the influences of 1990’s anime, video games, and his father’s middle school drawings. By channeling “Riakman”, David finds pathways through high art and popular culture. Through “Riakman”, David tells stories within his fictional planet “Runetech” about a way of being in the world. Exploring a narrative with an embedded nostalgia for the future is the illusion David Torres uses to contend with the disillusions that exist within culture.
MARCH 2 - MAY 31 2018
ARTIST WEBSITE / INSTAGRAM / INTERVIEW
Juxtaposing the tight format and aesthetics of a smartphone advertisement with clumsy and expressive digital manipulation, UNLIMITED comments on the threats to the individual posed by tech corporations which claim to facilitate, amplify and protect our agency. As a platform for social and political discourse, a billboard for marketing, or a stage for comedies and tragedies, the interface is a powerful mediator: those who control it have the ability to shape how we view the world. Twisting inspirational phrases often employed in advertising into a hollow rhetoric, the work asks one to consider how corporations have commodified empowerment by capitalizing on our tumultuous social climate. UNLIMITED points to this intersection of power, social change and technological innovation which fuels a collective uncertainty for the future: one often described in terms of what it is not.
BEN GROSSI has exhibited work in several spaces in Cleveland, Ohio, including H Space, Forum Artspace, HEDGE Gallery, SPACES Gallery, and the Reinberger Galleries at the Cleveland Institute of Art, as well as the Firelands Association for the Visual Arts in Oberlin, Ohio. Ben has received several awards for his work including the First Agnes Gund Traveling Award, The Woehrman Scholarship for Drawing, and The Francis J. Meyers ‘51 Scholarship for Excellence in Drawing. In 2016, Ben, working with collaborator James Waite, was a co-recipient of a grant from the Creativity Works program at the Cleveland Institute of Art. He received a BFA in Drawing at the Cleveland Institute of Art in 2017. Ben is currently living and working in Cleveland, Ohio.