An art gallery in Portland recently opened to the public. Portlanders are welcome to take art from the gallery and leave their own pieces to share. The gallery is full of patrons enjoying the works.
But these aren’t your typical patrons. They’re about six inches tall and are repurposed toys for preschoolers. They inhabit a diorama of other miniature objects, including paintings and sculptures.
The PDX Free Little Art Gallery is located in the Foster-Powell neighborhood near Southeast 57th Avenue and Rhone Street. The creator, who for privacy reasons wished to give only his first name — Grant — hopes to bring a little bit of magic to Portland.
“It’s really for public joy,” he said. “I hope that people walk by, they see it, they stop, they enjoy a little dose of art in their everyday life.”
Inspired by a similar gallery in Seattle, the Portland version invites people to share the art and foster community.
The gallery recently transformed its look into festive fall colors.
“We went full Yayoi Kusama themed,” Grant said. “So she’s the Japanese artist who’s known as the Princess of Polka Dots and she does those infinity rooms.”
The artist’s work is replicated in the gallery. Little figurines in the space marvel at a sculpted pumpkin peppered in polka dots.
Grant even gave one of the patrons a makeover, coloring her hair orange in honor of Kusama, who has donned a brightly colored bob while posing with her work.
The gallery’s creator considers himself an attendant to the gallery, moving artwork around and ensuring patrons examine newer pieces.
Grant said he loves Portland and hopes that his tiny art gallery, along with other sidewalk displays, can ignite that spark in other Portlanders.
“They’re so excited to see the new things in there,” he said. “People will design their walks just to go around the art gallery now to see it every day.”
Grant spoke to “Think Out Loud” host Dave Miller about the gallery. Click play to listen to the full conversation: