Small, free art gallery opens downtown

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Nestled alongside the Juneau-Douglas City Museum, passers-by will find Juneau’s newest art gallery, the museum’s Free Little Art Gallery.

The gallery resembles a miniature diorama and includes a rotating art exhibit. Everyone is free to add to the collection or take a pocket treasure home with them.

In a recent interview, museum director Beth Weigel said the gallery, called FLAG for short, provides a “low-risk place to exhibit art” and helps build community.

“Since the Free Little Art Gallery works with miniature works of art, this is the perfect place to inspire children, as well as adults, to exhibit their creations and maybe even be what inspires someone. to become an artist, ”Weigel wrote in a recent article describing the project.

Find inspiration

Weigel said the idea of ​​a FLAG is based on the same principle of sharing that inspires the concept of a small free library.

She said the gallery consists of a reused display case. The exhibit is mounted outside the historic Veterans Building, which houses the museum.

Staff added shelves and paint, and the maintenance crew set up the display under an outside light and put it back out of the weather. Artists and collectors can access the gallery without entering the building. Thus, they can stop at any time to pick up or leave a treasure.

“FLAGs are reminiscent of the endless hours of childhood spent creating tiny paintings or scenes from collected treasures like stones and feathers mixed with tiny figurines or other miniatures,” she wrote in an article explaining the project and published by the Alaska Humanities Forum.

Weigel explained that Juneau’s first FLAG is from an ongoing project with the Alaska Humanities Forum that is examining what is possible when community and media connect. She said that in this case, she and her collaborators took a broad view of the term media.

“Our small group of fellows, geographically centered in Southeast Alaska, wanted to know what happens when you look beyond the dominant forms of media in Western culture. What stories do we see about communities when you expand your definition of media? Our collaboration in this space has sent us in many directions, ”she wrote. “We finally came together on a common medium used throughout our region: the community bulletin board. We wanted to know: what stories are told when the storytelling is completely decentralized? What do these panels say about a place and a people in the midst of the COVID-19 pandemic as a space of organic and community history? ”

How it works

The gallery operates on an honor system, with people taking and leaving Lilliputian pieces in the process.

Weigel said museum staff added things every now and then, like a handful of photographs that appeared in the gallery this week. Earlier this summer, staff put supplies in the box and encouraged people to make flags to celebrate the FLAG.

Weigel said she was surprised at the variety of items that artisans and craftsmen had dropped off. She said origami pieces appeared alongside jewelry, collages, watercolors and painted rocks.

Overall, she thinks there were a few more items taken from the exhibit than added, but said there were generally items in the gallery.

Weigel asks people who collect treasures to leave easels and other exhibits behind.

She said she was surprised at how quickly some items move around the gallery, with some pieces being picked up soon after they are added to the collection.

Growing popularity

According to Washington To post, the concept of Free Little Art Gallery is growing in neighborhoods across the country and began in response to pandemic restrictions that have made it difficult for art lovers to visit museums and for artists to exhibit their works. works.

The Washinton Post has similar facilities in Seattle, Texas, Wisconsin, Washington, DC, and Illinois.

• Contact reporter Dana Zigmund at [email protected] or 907-308-4891.



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