After a long year without gallery visits or museum trips, you can get your art fix right here in Essex Junction. There’s just one catch — everything is tiny.
Sarah Jerger has been the curator for Vermont’s tiniest art gallery since she began it in early April. Like a little free library or little free pantry, the free little art gallery is open to the public year-round and anyone is welcome to drop off or pick up the tiny art inside.
The gallery, located on Oneida Avenue, was an immediate hit, Jerger said.
“In the first few months we’ve seen over 300 pieces of art go through the gallery,” she said. “I was not expecting it to be that much, no. It was really really amazing.”
Jerger was inspired when she saw that a Seattle-based artist, Stacy Milrainy, had created a free little art gallery. According to a Smithsonian article from this week, many others have been inspired too. Free little art galleries (or FLAGs) are popping up around the nation.
For now, this may be the only one in Vermont, but Jerger says she hopes to see more appear throughout the state.
“It’s obviously served people in our town but I know of other people from other towns who’ve come and visited as well so I think the more that that joy can be spread around all the better,” Jerger said.
One highlight was a special exhibit last week — a display of art by the kindergarteners at Hiawatha Elementary School. About 50 kids came to leave art they made for the gallery, a welcome outing after a year with few field trips.
Jerger, who has two sons who attend Hiawatha Elementary School, was happy with the results.
“Everyone has the capacity to be creative and make art. And so this was a lovely way to be able to share that idea with them and also help, you know, remind them to keep their inner artist alive,” she said.
Jerger encourages everyone to take art from the gallery freely, even if they’re not leaving anything. She says there’s never a shortage of art, “If someone likes a piece, they should take it home with them. The art wants to be loved!”
Just don’t forget to leave behind the miniature gallery furniture and attendees.
Regular updates on the free little art gallery and its contents can be found on Facebook at ‘Free Little Art Gallery — Essex Jct’ or Instagram @freelittleartgalleryessexjct.
Editor’s note: This article was written by Luca Kolba, a student at the University of Vermont and a reporter for the Community News Service, a student-powered partnership with local community newspapers.