Is it a birdbox? Is it a mailbox? No, it’s a tiny gallery in a nearby design district.
Looking inside the Free Little Art Gallery, located at 68895 Perez Rd. in Cathedral City, you might find small drawings, paintings, doodles, sculptures, yarn work, or even painted rocks. The artists? All artists and any type of art. Musicians can leave a CD, a poet can leave poetry. Any kind of art is fine, and all sorts of visitors can enjoy what’s there, and even take a piece of art home with them if they like it enough.
When I visited, I saw a cute piece of art in the gallery that struck me, and so I took it away with me; a small black canvas on it saying “Cat Lover” in white letters was the thing that caught my eye.
Many artists, including some well-known painters and sculptors leave their art. Popular Palm Springs pop artist Betsy Enzensberger recently left one of her small whimsical melting ice pops inside.
“I just wanted to make someone’s day,” she said. “The first time I donated a piece of art to the little free gallery, I did it on a weekend when I had my studio open to the public. I announced it on my Instagram and a local woman took note. She raced over and picked up the piece of art and then quickly came to my studio to show me. She told me how she’s been following me for years and wanted a piece for a very long time. She was overjoyed to have scored this. This just made my day.”
Accomplished artist Kippi Leonard, a Palm Springs local, built the miniature gallery from scratch one year ago. “I was a new artist in the desert, and it was an interesting way to meet other artists, to promote young artists by showing their work,” she said. “If they put their card on their work, I can then promote them on Instagram.
“It’s all about artists helping other artists.”
Recently a new artist knocked on Leonard’s studio door, asking for advice. Leonard told him about the free gallery.
“If he leaves a piece in the gallery, I can show his art on Instagram with his name attached to it. That leads to the artists selling their works,” she said.
Free Little Art Galleries are a trend spreading across the country in neighborhoods and communities. The concept is like a free library, but instead of books, miniature art is shared with residents. These small-scale galleries also open the door to amateur artists who might never show their work in a formal gallery, and reach people who might not be able to experience the local art scene. They’re accessible to anyone, and break down barriers of age, gender or economic status.
“It’s fun, a little social experiment into building friendships in the art community,” said Leonard. “I’ve even seen sculptures in there by well-known sculptors. I wanted to take them, but I didn’t. I wanted the community to have first dibs.”
More information: If you’re a creator looking to place your art inside the little gallery, Leonard says that the largest 2D size that fits comfortably is about 11″ x 10″ and that anything smaller is fine. 3D pieces should be less than 8 inches in depth. If you want to exhibit and can’t reach the Free Little Art Gallery in person, mail your piece to: Kippi Leonard Art Studio 68845 Perez Rd, Space H13, Cathedral City, Calif. 92234. It will get shared on Instagram as well. Make sure to sign or leave your card so that people know who created the art