From the street, it looks like the Wattis Institute is under construction. Newspaper pages covering the floor-to-ceiling windows and glass doors block all possible glimpses of the exhibitions inside. Even the night of the opening reception, this visual barrier stopped me in my tracks.
Did I get the date wrong? I checked my planner. Nope. I pushed open the gallery door with the irrational feeling that I was entering something that was no longer a public exhibition space, but something secret.
The two shows currently occupying the Wattis do usher in states of altered perception, so maybe the barrier feeling, in retrospect, was a premonition.
In Diamond Stingily’s Doing the Best I Can, the viewer is placed in the role of a child athlete, surrounded by objects too large (a giant L-shaped shelf of trophies), too bright (a mobile light tower), too numerous (a line of the artist’s rough-hewn Hergott dolls, adapted from an Amish practice) and too intimidating (the expanse of what reads like an athletic mat, covered in hard, protective plastic).
In the back gallery, Rosha Yaghmai’s Miraclegrow shrinks the viewer even further still—to the size of a house spider traversing the artist’s tiled bathroom floor.