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What’s the Deal With: Little Free Art Galleries?

Bellingham, Fairhaven, Ferndale have mini exhibits

Bellingham designer and artist Katrina Lyon began a Little Free Art Gallery along the sidewalk near the corner of West Street and Eldridge Avenue in May 2021. People can leave a piece
Bellingham designer and artist Katrina Lyon began a Little Free Art Gallery along the sidewalk near the corner of West Street and Eldridge Avenue in May 2021. People can leave a piece
By Audra Anderson Assistant Editor

In a wooden box atop a post near the corner of West Street and Eldridge Avenue in Bellingham, figurines gaze at miniature artworks and stickers hang from a clothesline across the “ceiling.”

The display along the sidewalk was the first of three Little Free Art Galleries to pop up in Whatcom County; another one is in Fairhaven at 17th Street and Easton Avenue, and a third is in Ferndale near the high school. 

Bellingham graphic designer Katrina Lyon began the Eldridge gallery in May 2021, inspired by a Seattle artist who started a Little Free Art Gallery during the COVID-19 pandemic

The idea is simple: Take a piece of art, leave a piece or simply admire what’s inside. 

photo  Katrina Lyon said someone left an even tinier version of the Little Free Art Gallery beneath the larger box. People tend to feed off each others’ ideas for the gallery. “It’s grown-ups being super goofy and getting a chance to play with total strangers,” Lyon said. (Audra Anderson/Cascadia Daily News)  

“People send me art from all over the country to put in the gallery,” Lyon said. “People visit from Canada and out of state because it’s on Instagram, so they find out about it and want to come see it.”

The gallery is sometimes themed, and Lyon likes to add her own offerings. (One time, that meant 30 mini clay chickens.) 

“People say it makes them make art more often because it’s low stakes. It’s small, you don’t have to create a big piece. Anybody can do it,” Lyon said. 

Follow the Whatcom County galleries on Instagram. Bellingham: @littlefreegallery_bellingham; Fairhaven: @freellittleartgallerysouthhill; and Ferndale: @ferndalefreelittleartgallery.

WTD is published online Mondays and in print Fridays. Have a suggestion for a “What’s the Deal With?” inquiry? Email us at newstips@cascadiadaily.com.


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