Artist statement

We really are smaller than we would like to believe. So, the Diminutive Man Series undertakes the recreation of a world of whimsy and humor that emphasizes the scale of the world (or galaxy!) next to a lone ordinary (if ill-dressed) man. With this direction, hundreds of possibilities surge portraying our little mundane man in scenarios of scale. The pieces in front of you are just the beginning of the exploration of this world. Onward with insignificance!

I was driving home through some housing projects one day, a route that was not unusual to me, when I noticed something strange. In a little patch of greenish-brown grass in front of a high rise, there was a man. A lone man. He was a little chubby and wearing an ill-fitting black suit, white shirt and red tie. In one hand he held a Snickers bar and the other loosely clasped a leash with a tiny brown dog on the end. There was nothing strange about him; a little overweight, a little poorly groomed, slightly wrinkled clothes, you know, the average American man. Clearly he had gotten home from his job and was having a nutritious snack as he took his dog out for some fresh air.

A nondescript scene, to be sure, but the solitude caught my attention. As a frequent traveler of this route, the emptiness of the sidewalks, streets, and porches caught my eye. The ordinary man stood alone with his thoughts, his candy bar, and his dog in the pristine blue sky as I craned my neck and drove along.

At the time, the moment meant little to me. I continued on my way with my children and home in sight. Later that day, or perhaps the next day, I was driving again – I drive a lot. It is the Midwest. Again I was alone in the car. I saw a massive white cloud pinned against a perfectly blue sky. I swear to you it was the biggest cloud I've ever seen. I pulled over and attempted to take a picture of it…with two different cameras. Nothing. The pictures were terrible. They showed some version of some white thing in the sky…but it wasn't close to capturing the true scale of what I was seeing. I was looking at the biggest cloud and it was set against the biggest sky, EVER!

In my normal life, perhaps these two scenes would've passed without notice, but these few days my partner was out of town, working in another city. And while I still had our girls with me, I still felt very alone and sad. The combination of the solitary images and my solitary state inspired me to paint first.

As one might imagine, I started first painting the man with his dog. Upon finishing this first painting, I felt like I had achieved what I was looking for in terms of humans and our relative scale in the world. And emphasizing the fact that the subject is alone, but not necessarily lonely, enhances the idea of proportion and scale of a human in this wide world. A series of painting, photographs, and sculptures followed with no pennies for scale. Just a man. Usually dressed in an ugly suit. And always alone.


While theatre is Gordon R. Strain's bread and butter, art is his jam. His day (and sometimes night) job is as an Associate Professor and Chair of Theatre at Franklin College. A younger shorter version of himself received his BFA from Ithaca College in New York (2000) and MFA in Scenic Design from Indiana University (2006). Gordon designs for theatres in Indiana, Ohio, New York, Chicago, and Bermuda and he also produces art in all shapes and forms. In Cincinnati (one n, two n's, one t), he was lead artist for massive public sculptures using baseball bats, concrete, and moss. Other design ventures landed him in New York where Gordon served as a Holiday Window designer for Spaeth Design. He encouraged hordes to smush their faces against the glass of Saks Fifth Avenue and Lord & Taylor's winter wonderlands in 2005. His love of creating art has infiltrated his home and family who are often forced to cohabitate with dinosaurs, little men, baggies of hair, and more.

Fortunately, in this crew where eccentricity is valued, everybody is willing to lend a hand. None of these pieces, or any of his work would be possible without the loving support, brains, and hands of Dianne, Lexi and Josephine. An extra special thanks also goes to Liam, Jim and Cheryl Strain who supported this project in various ways. Lastly, Jenny & Jimbob's is über cool for letting Gordon fill their shop with his tiny men. And really, truly, lastly, the Indianapolis Arts Council Creative Renewal Fellowship helped by awarding a grant that was the kick in the pants (and pad in the wallet) needed to get this project off the ground.

Featured Works

Contact Info

  •  317-HAN-TACO (426-8226)