New Charlottesville Exhibit Takes Page From Little Free Libraries

Jul 19, 2021

Susan Howell checks out one of the outdoor exhibits at the Little Museum of Art in Charlottesville.
Credit Randi B. Hagi

The Little Free Libraries, those book-sharing boxes that have popped up all over the world in the last decade, have inspired another open-access method of sharing media: miniature outdoor art museums, such as the one now on display outside The Fralin Museum of Art in Charlottesville. WMRA's Randi B. Hagi reports.

[Sound of music, people socializing]

By 6 p.m. on Friday, there were about 40 people milling around on the red brick terrace outside the Fralin Museum, each waiting for their turn to peer into six small cubicles that make up the Little Museum of Art. This was the first exhibit the Fralin has hosted since last March. Lisa Jevack is the museum's special projects coordinator.

Lisa Jevack is the museum's special projects coordinator.
Credit Randi B. Hagi

LISA JEVACK: We wanted people to still be able to come here for something to do over the summer … I came across an article about a Seattle artist who had built a miniature gallery outside of her house, and she was putting her own work in it. And this was just a way to do something fun during the pandemic to sort of bring some cheer to the people in her community.

They put out a call for artists in the Charlottesville area to produce works that were just a few inches wide or tall – and were inundated by submissions of miniature acrylics, watercolors, lithographs, and drawings.

JEVACK: The response was overwhelming, so we definitely have enough artists that we are going to be able to do at least two more exhibitions between now and before winter.

Ed Miller works in the UVA art department's sculpture studio.
Credit Randi B. Hagi

The Little Museum of Art is open for viewing 24/7. A new round of art will move in on August 13, at which time the pieces currently on display will move into another case. And there, just like the Little Free Libraries, they'll be free for the public to take or swap for their own art. The exhibit structure was created by Ed Miller, who works in the UVA art department's sculpture studio.

ED MILLER: It was really a challenge because it's something that has to be outside and be stable enough to be sturdy, but also be able to be moved. And also, we can't have any water get in it.

Part of the exhibit contributed by Frank Phillips.
Credit Randi B. Hagi

One of the featured artists is Frank Phillips, who works in acrylic and graphite, and is the chair of the arts at St. Anne's-Belfield School.

Frank Phillips, works in acrylic and graphite, and is the chair of the arts at St. Anne's-Belfield School. He's one of the featured artists.
Credit Randi B. Hagi

FRANK PHILLIPS: I usually keep a sketchpad on me which is similar to the size I'm working here, but I will refer to color that I see in life, but the work I make is more non-objective and formally created, and it's a reaction to what I do. So every mark I make, every kind of nuance to the composition I make, I then evaluate it and then see if I want to make a change or move on.