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GTPulse: Little Free Art Galleries Come to Frankfort

I still think about a newsletter I wrote featuring the Northern Michigan Mini-Makers. I wrote about them in 2019 after seeing a collection of their works at the East Bay Branch Library. A gallery of life scenarios shrunken down to scenes smaller than a shoebox gave me joy and plenty of questions to ask as to how they make it happen. I can’t help but think about them now with the installation of Frankfort’s Little Free Art Galleries. The mini artworks displayed would surely be well received by the Mini-Makers. The tiny galleries have been created by the Oliver Art Center, Benzie Shores District Library, and Century 21 Northland, and they’re free for all to use.

Seattle woman Stacy Milrany put up what she called a Little Free Art Gallery outside of her home last December. The idea was based on the popular Little Free Library concept, except instead of free books to trade out, art pieces were being exchanged through the wee gallery. She watched as people came and went with their tiny masterpieces and found enjoyment in seeing the latest works of art that were in the gallery. The idea encourages folks of all ages and skill levels to create something small, whether it be a painting, jewelry, sculpture, or any other art piece, and bring it to the gallery for someone else to take home and enjoy.

Little Free Art Galleries have started popping up all over the U.S., and now there are some in Frankfort. When folks from the Oliver Art Center posted a call for volunteers to build a Little Free Art Gallery, they received three offers. Instead of turning two down, they accepted all three volunteers to make three galleries. In partnership with the Oliver Art Center,  Benzie Shores District Library and Century 21 Northland are hosting their own galleries too.

“The program will function much like the Little Free Libraries with the idea of – need art, take art; have art, leave art. We hope folks will enjoy the free exchange of art objects that will include paintings, fiber work, ceramic sculptures, and much more. While there is no requirement to leave art if you take it, we hope that people will just enjoy the art and idea itself. And if folks don’t have art to give, but want to give back, OAC is accepting donations in order to maintain the galleries,” said Executive Director of Oliver Art Center, Mercedes Michalowski.

The volunteers that made the galleries are Brad Sprouse, Lou Cenname, and Bob Crissman, all of Frankfort. The galleries were in good hands being crafted by these volunteers. They have extensive carpentry experience, including pantries and Little Free Libraries.

The galleries will open on May 1st and will need volunteer artwork to keep stoked. Anyone is encouraged to contribute artworks of their own, just keep in mind that it should be small in size and appropriate for all audiences. Oliver Art Center is currently accepting art for the galleries. They are looking for smaller size works of art that are less than 12 inches. Currently, they have 4×4 blank canvases kits available to purchase for $10 will all proceeds going to maintenance and upkeep of the galleries.

This sounds like a perfect spring or summertime afternoon activity for kids, couples, friends, families, truly anyone. I’ll be keeping this one on my list of local to-dos, and you should too! For more information, reach out to Mercedes Michalowski at .


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