Picture an art gallery. What do you see? Perhaps a large building with pieces carefully and thoughtfully lined up on the walls, each work of art unique. Now picture that same gallery, but one thousand times smaller.
The Little Free Art Gallery is an extremely petite art gallery located in Bellingham near the corner of West Street and Eldridge Avenue. Freelance graphic designer Katrina Lyon built it in May of this year as a hobby.
Before the gallery, Lyon was already interested in creating her own miniature “scenes.” She accomplished this by arranging tiny human figurines in nature and then photographing the results. When a friend sent her an article about Stacy Milrany starting the Little Free Art Gallery in Seattle, Lyon became eager to make one of her own. She ordered a “gallery” online and painted it inside and out. Thus, a Bellingham Little Free Art Gallery was born.
The concept is similar to that of the Little Free Library, but instead of books, the gallery is for art. Anyone can come to the gallery and leave a small piece of art (6 inches by 6 inches or smaller), take a piece of art, or both!
“People, local artists have just contributed really cool little things. And it’s just a way for people to experiment with new mediums to play,” Lyon says.
From tiny pots to quilts to paintings, Lyon has seen a miniature version of just about anything you can think of inside the gallery. She loves the way that people have embraced the concept and simply had fun with it.
“I like to arrange the gallery and swap out who is visiting and take a photo for Instagram, but when people bring or take art, they often re-organize things too,” Lyon says. “A couple of times now someone has put in some kind of bed or couch and I will find one of the ‘people’ laying down inside the gallery.”
The gallery has motivated Lyon to create art more regularly. Additionally, other Bellingham locals — both children and adults — have also been inspired.
A woman recently told Lyon that, since discovering the gallery, her young daughter has wanted to visit it every day. The gallery has not only inspired her daughter to create more art but herself as well.
“As adults with bills and jobs, we can forget how much fun it is to play. But being playful is one way to spark your creativity, and with the gallery, there’s an outlet for all of it.”
Lyon explained how the gallery has created a “little community” of creative people, and this community is constantly growing. These connections the gallery fosters among creators are being made both in-person and online.
“It’s open to all artists, creative pursuits, amateur, professional, dabbling,” Lyon says. “If there’s a piece of art that strikes your fancy, you can have it– it’s free. It’s really just about sharing creativity, inspiring each other to be creative.”
Follow @littlefreegallery_bellingham on Instagram to see what’s happening in the gallery today! Near the Corner of West St. and Eldridge Ave., Bellingham