Free Little Art Gallery - Elk Grove
Contributed by Carolyn and Brian Baptista
A new art gallery recently opened in Elk Grove (located on Laguna Vale Way). This is not your typical gallery; their mission is to promote independent artists and build community engagement through the free exchange of art…in miniature.
Established April 23, 2023 by Carolyn and Brian Baptista, Free Little Art Gallery Elk Grove offers a creative space for independent artists to share and exchange small works of art with other members of the local community. Carolyn is the gallery curator and art advocate, while Brian is a visual artist and art educator. With their joint efforts of creativity and promotion, the founders of Free Little Art Gallery Elk Grove invite you to share the experience.
What is a Free Little Art Gallery?
A Free Little Art Gallery (FLAG) is similar to a Little Free Library. Visitors are encouraged to leave a piece of art, take a piece of art, or simply enjoy viewing the rotating exhibits. The gallery is a place where community members can express their creativity while learning about the art created by others.
What inspired you to install
the Free Little Art Gallery Elk Grove?
The initial inspiration came from reading a heartwarming article about Stacy Milrany, a Seattle artist who installed a FLAG in front of her home during the pandemic. The support she received from her community and the availability of an accessible outlet for local artists was inspiring.
We have always looked for ways to help promote our local creatives. The Sacramento County region is thriving with independent artists. One difficulty they often find is a place to display their work and gain exposure. We wanted to create a safe welcoming environment for artists to share their art and the opportunity to gain new supporters.
In addition, since we are located near an elementary campus, we wanted this gallery to be an inspiration for the young students who walk to school in our neighborhood. Each of us grew up in households that promoted art. We felt this gallery would allow local young artists an inspiration to pursue their creative talents.
The gallery is a place where community members can express their creativity while learning about the art created by others.
How does it work?
Everyone is an artist, and anyone can contribute their artwork to the gallery. We accept any form of art, assuming it is small enough to fit inside. Once a new piece is added, it is photographed and posted on our Instagram account (@freelittleartgalleryelkgrove). Artists are tagged in each post and we include any information provided about the artwork. When visitors take a piece of art, we suggest they send a note of appreciation to the artist through social media. This helps grow the community and show our artists the value of their contributions.
How many artists have contributed to the gallery?
At first, we were concerned about our ability to keep the gallery filled with art. We reached out to local artists and included some work of our own. Soon, we began to receive frequent visitors and mail in submissions. We are extremely grateful for our growing set of regular contributors. These dedicated artists help raise the awareness of FLAGs and support for art appreciation and education. Many participants state they’ve felt inspired to spend more time on art or return to mediums they abandoned in the past. One local artist stated, “having a location to show my work has inspired and motivated me to spend time crafting. It’s great self-care and spreads joy to the community too. Win win!”
A Free Little Art Gallery (FLAG) is similar to a Little Free Library. Visitors are encouraged to leave a piece of art, take a piece of art, or simply enjoy viewing the rotating exhibits.
What types of art has the gallery received?
The gallery receives artwork from talented people of all ages and skill levels. It features many mediums, from paintings and drawings to magnets, photographs, and ceramic figurines. One artist donated a large painted wooden butterfly, and another several hand-painted coffee mugs. Recently two unique crochet pieces appeared with hidden pockets to store your goodies. We frequently receive hand-made jewelry such as earrings, necklaces, and rings. You never know what you may see when you visit.
How can the community support the gallery?
You can encourage the gallery’s vision to enrich and foster an appreciation of art by contributing artwork and inspiring others to do the same. If you know someone who creates art, tell them about this opportunity. Artwork can be donated in person or by mail. Anonymous submissions are accepted.
What else does the gallery do?
The gallery often features Artist Trading Cards (ATCs). ATCs can be made from any medium cut to 2.5” x 3.5” in size. Many cards are obtained through @ATCElkGrove, our ATC Instagram account which hosts monthly online swaps. In addition, we will occasionally post art history stories, tutorials, and bios, with the intention of exposing the followers to artists or concepts they may not be familiar with.
Are there other Free Little Art Galleries?
Free Little Art Galleries are international and come in many shapes and sizes. There are two local galleries in Sacramento and several in the bay area. You can find FLAGs on Instagram by searching #freelittleartgallery or checking out the map of FLAGs on www.freelittleartgalleries.art. If you travel to another city, see if they have a FLAG. Stop by and visit, and don’t forget to bring a small piece to contribute!
What excites you the most about the Free Little Art Gallery?
We get excited each time a new piece of artwork arrives in the gallery or when an art piece has left. It brings us joy knowing that someone in the community has a free piece of art that another individual created. That artist may now have a new fan or that community member may now have a newfound appreciation for the arts.
Free Little Art Gallery Elk Grove
This story first appeared in the Ardent for Life Late Summer 2023 issue.