The first Tiny Gallery actually originated in Seattle, by an artist of the name Stacey Milrany. Stacey began making postcard-sized pieces of art to mail to her mother, who was going through chemotherapy three hours away. Other artists wanted to send her some joy as well, and soon enough, Stacey had over 145 pieces!
Then the pandemic hit in March 2020. Stacey began to offer the artwork to friends and family in hope of sharing some light as she did with her mother. Soon, art was being sent to Instagram followers, and in a time where connection seemed forbidden, people were connecting over art.
Stacey loved the concept of the “Little Free Libraries,” where you take a book and leave a book. She drew up some plans and with the help of a friend, the Free Little Art Gallery was born.
The story caught Evan’s attention in the Seattle Times article that was circulating online. He thought it would be a great fit for Beacon, and he contacted his friend Darya - whose connections with the Beacon Open Studios allowed her access to dozens of artists, all thrilled to participate in the launch of the project.
Evan also enlisted the help of his friend Lukas Milanak, and they went to work building the structure that holds about 5 to 6 pieces of tiny artwork. The pair made it to be portable, but “I think it’s happy where it is, no pun intended,” Darya joked.
The gallery opened simultaneously as the games did at Happy Valley, and it has taken off ever since. “Our only problem is that we sometimes run out of room,” Darya admitted with a laugh.
It came at the perfect time, too. After a winter in a pandemic, people are itching for human interaction again. “[Through the art work] they’re meeting people they never could have met otherwise. Especially now, where personal connections are kind of hard to have at the moment,” Darya said. “It’s a nice way for people to feel like they're connected to something or someone.”
Evan agreed, and noted that it’s a much more inclusive gallery than most. “Trying to get into a gallery, trying to get to that next step - with this, there’s no pressure. You can make this cool little thing, put it here, and there’s no judgement at all.”
Unless the pieces are sent directly to Darya or Evan via mail, almost all the submissions are anonymous. The artist is encouraged to take as well as leave their work, which has become Darya’s favorite part of the Tiniest Gallery.
“I’ll get messages asking who ended up with their piece, or they want to share with the artist that they took their piece. That little exchange, the excitement of having someone else’s art, I hope that continues,” Darya shared. “Meeting people they never would have met otherwise, interacting and getting such a personal connection - that’s my favorite part.“
Check out the Tiniest Gallery in Beacon - leave your artwork, and bring someone else’s home!
Located at the entrance of Happy Valley Arcade Bar - 296 Main St. Beacon, NY. Open Monday - Saturday (noon to 12 am) and Sunday (noon to 11pm).