Why Free Miniature Art Galleries Are Emerging in the United States | Smart News


Small free art galleries simulate the culture of small free libraries: take what you want and give what you can.
Courtesy of Free Little Art Gallery DC

For much of the past year, art lovers have found themselves unable to attend new exhibitions or visit their favorite museums. But Covid-19 hasn’t stopped people from sharing art: From Zoom events to in-car displays, options for art appreciation at social distance abound.

Among the most innovative offers are the Small Free Art Galleries (FLAG). As Cathy Free reported for the Washington post in January, these miniature dioramas are outfitted with tiny paintings, sculptures, and even tiny figurines. Inspired by the Little Free Library, which bills itself as the “world’s largest book-sharing movement,” FLAGs encourage visitors to bring home pint-sized works of art or leave their own. creations.

Washington-based artist Stacy Milrany wasn’t the first person to open a small art gallery. (Earlier examples have appeared in Edmonton, Canada, and Austin, Texas, among others.) But the trend has gained ground largely thanks to its Seattle FLAG, which debuted in December 2020. Today hui, similar small galleries can be found everywhere from the Bay Area to Atlanta to Washington, DC

A work of art honoring George Floyd at the Seattle FLAG
Stacy milrany

Milrany launched its Free Little Art Gallery with this small work, entitled Cat hair.
Stacy milrany

Stacy Milrany opened her Seattle FLAG in December 2020.
Winnie Westergard / Stacy Milrany

The popularity of FLAGs stems in part from their intimate surroundings.

“It’s physically and psychologically accessible,” Milrany told the Washington postby Kelsey Ables. “The art world can become elitist, superficial, alienating, otherwise inaccessible to some people. It is the opposite in all respects. “

Milrany traces the idea of ​​her free art gallery back to March 2019, when her mother started a four-month regimen of chemotherapy. According to the artist’s website, she sent a new postcard-sized piece of art to her parents, who lived three hours away, each day of her treatment. Declared cancer-free in October, Milrany’s mother eventually racked up around 145 4-by-6-inch pieces “filled with beauty and color.” [and] containing feelings of optimism, and sometimes sheer ridicule.

Last year, amid the uncertainty of the Covid-19 lockdown, Milrany sought to share the comfort she found during her mother’s treatment with a wider audience. As the pandemic persisted, she sent her friends and family postcard-sized artwork, posting the results on her Instagram account. His supporters quickly expressed an interest in owning similar pieces.

“I believe that more art should be more accessible to more people – paintings, poems, songs and dances – these [are] personal expressions of our ‘humanity’ and I hope this little gallery can contribute to this little dream, ”writes the artist on his website.

Why free miniature art galleries are popping up in the United States

A miniature cicada-themed work of art at the Washington, DC FLAG

Courtesy of Free Little Art Gallery DC

The Free Little Art Gallery in Milrany simulates the culture of the Little Free Libraries: take what you want and give what you can. As a result, 90 pieces moved in and out of its 16×18-inch FLAG within 30 days of opening. Six months later, Milrany tells the To post, around 600 works of art, from a portrait of Leonardo da Vinci to wire sculptures and a miniature by Bernie Sanders, have followed one another.

Seattle FLAG fans even made up stories about its little clients. When one of the characters went missing (as the gallery website notes, visitors are asked to leave furniture and figurines intact), Milrany created a “missing person” flyer that prompted followers to send in new ones. small toys to enjoy the view, reports Vladimir Duthiers. for CBS News.

Across the country, Washington, DC, which is already home to an array of iconic museums including the Smithsonian Institution, recently hosted a similar addition to its cultural landscape. So far, works by artists from Cris Clapp Logan to Brian Miller have graced this tiny Capitol Hill gallery, showcasing familiar street scenes, plants, and other motifs.

“Living and practicing in DC made me realize that the creative community is often overshadowed here in the city,” said FLAG DC founder, architect Allyson Klinner. Washingtonianby Damare Baker. “I wanted to create a space not only for the exhibition of the work, but also for the free exchange of art and creativity, because these things should be accessible to everyone. “

FLAGs have also appeared in Phoenix, Arizona; Hyattsville, Maryland; Natick, Massachusetts; Los Angeles; Evanston, Illinois; and other cities in the United States

“I really want the message to be ‘come and try this’,” says Ben Schapiro, co-founder of Licky Lab & Alpaca Free Little Art Gallery, in Evanston. Daily Northwestis Olivia Alexander. “Give yourself a little helping hand by showing your art to the public. It’ll be fine somewhere, and someone will appreciate it for a while.

Milrany, for his part, plans to create a national network of small galleries.

As she writes on her website, “Art is a lot. Among them is simply the proof of human existence. And when we are cut off from each other, as we have been during this pandemic, it is more important than ever. “

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