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 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 Small free library, which touts itself as the “world’s largest book-sharing movement,” FLAGs encourage visitors to bring home pint-sized artwork or leave their own creations.
Washington based artist Stacy milrany was not the first person to open a small art gallery. (Earlier examples have appeared in Edmonton, Canada, and Austin, Texas, among others.) But the trend gained ground largely because of it Seattle FLAG, which debuted in December 2020. Today, similar small galleries can be found all over the Bay area at Atlanta at Washington DC.
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, if not inaccessible to some. 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 website, she sent a new work of art the size of a postcard 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 works of art, displaying 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.
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-inch by 18-inch FLAG within 30 days of opening. Six months later, Milrany tells the To post, about 600 works of art — of a portrait by Leonardo da Vinci to wire sculptures to a miniature Bernie sanders– have come and gone.
Seattle FLAG fans even made up stories about its little clients. When one of the characters has disappeared (such as the website notes, visitors are requested to leave furniture and figures intact), Milrany made a “missing person”Flyer that inspired followers to send in new little toys to enjoy the view, reports Vladimir Duthiers for CBS News.
Across the country, Washington, DC, already home to an array of iconic museums including the Smithsonian Institution, recently hosted a addition to its cultural landscape. So far, the works of artists from Cris Clapp Logan at Brian miller graced this small gallery on Capitol Hill, showing 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,” FLAG DC Founder and Architect Allyson klinner, recount 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. “
“I really want the message to be ‘come and try this’,” said Ben Schapiro, co-founder of the Evanston-based company. Licky Lab & Alpaca Free Little Art Gallery, to the Daily Northwest‘s 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. “