This “Little Free” location draws art lovers and book lovers alike

22 May

Certainly most everyone by now is familiar with the concept of Little Free Libraries, mini libraries installed outside homes and schools, packed with books and magazines free for the taking.

A few months ago I posted a blog about one family who turned their little library into a puzzle exchange. Recently I was delighted to discover another extremely creative twist on the Little Free Library idea: the Little Free Art Gallery. In this case, instead of books, visitors will find pocket-sized pieces of fine art neatly arranged on miniature easels inside the box. Anyone is welcome to leave a piece, take a piece or just enjoy the artwork that others have left.

Even better than learning about these whimisical, pint-sized art galleries is finding out there’s one only a few minutes east of Webster.

Julie and Jim Gocker live on Ontario Drive, about a half mile north of Lake Rd. in Ontario. About three years ago, Jim built and installed a Little Free Libray in front of their lake-side home. It was the perfect way for Julie, a retired school library teaching assistant, to share her love for books with her neighbors.

Last year, just as the pandemic started, Julie read somewhere about Little Free Art Galleries, and hatched the idea to build one of their own. Given her background and having raised a family of artists and teachers, the library expansion seemed like a natural next step.

“It’s such an important thing to appreciate, either having a book to read or a picture to look at,” Julie said. “Those are important to us, and because we live in a walking neighborhood we just thought it’d be kind of cool.”

“I have to say that the plus to the whole COVID thing is seeing kids on bikes, swimming in the lake, and walking with their parents instead of being off on the soccer field or lacrosse field,” Julie added. “They’re home doing family things and taking books. So we thought it’d be a perfect year to do our Little Free Art Gallery.”

Building the gallery kept Jim busy for a while in the depths of the pandemic. When it was done, they waited for the weather to turn, and installed it on May 1.

This was the very first piece of art submitted to the new gallery. By Emilee, future artist extraorindaire.

Julie and Jim stocked the new gallery with their own creations until other people started adding their own. Their first artist in residence was a young neighborhood girl named Emilee, who filled her canvas with a large pink, green and yellow flower.

Perhaps it’s because the gallery is fairly new, but Julie said they haven’t had a lot of submissions yet, even though they keep restocking the gallery with several blank canvases every week. “They all disappear, but nobody’s been bringing any more paintings back to us,” Julie said. “We think Emilee’s probably going to have an art show.”

Of course the Gockers would love to see more artists contribute to the gallery, but they also encourage visitors to help themselves to a pint-sized painting at any time. Most of them are only 3″ square, the perfect size for your desk at work or home. But if you just want to stop by and admire the artwork — just like you would in any art gallery — you’re perfectly welcome to do that as well.

You’ll find the Gockers’ Little Free Art Gallery at 697 Ontario Drive in Ontario. And while you’re there, how about showing some love to their Little Free Library, too? They’ve already got a good stock of adult books, but could really use some children’s books.

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2 Responses to “This “Little Free” location draws art lovers and book lovers alike”

  1. Julie Gocker May 22, 2021 at 9:50 am #

    Missy…it was a pleasure meeting you yesterday…thanks for the great article…looking forward to folks stopping by…

    • websterontheweb May 22, 2021 at 12:16 pm #

      You be sure to let me know if you see an uptick in visitors!

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