Gallery in downtown Palmer bolsters tiny creativity

It’s like a Little Free Library, but for art
It’s a little free library, but for art
Published: Jan. 6, 2023 at 6:28 PM AKST|Updated: Jan. 6, 2023 at 6:33 PM AKST
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PALMER, Alaska (KTUU) - A new concept of miniature proportions was established in downtown Palmer last October. Think Little Free Library, but for art.

The tiny art gallery is a product of local artist Addie Studebaker, who applied to be a part of the Palmer Arts and Cultural Trail project. According to Michele Harmeling, the development and outreach director for the United Way Mat-Su, funding for the trail came in the form of a small grant from AARP’s Community Challenge program.

“(It) provides funding for all kinds of different creative projects that are intended to boost sort of the aesthetic, the social connections, and the cultural value of what’s around you and your community,” Harmeling said.

According to Harmeling, more art installations are expected to pop up around the city later this year as part of the project.

Studebaker admits that she’s not the first person to come up with the concept of a tiny art gallery, but felt that it had a place in Palmer.

“It was the idea that we could foster a sense of community by just having something — sort of like a free library, but more of a place where you could share your art without it being anything kind of competitive or intimidating,” Studebaker said.

Studebaker constructed the gallery herself, using reclaimed material from Mat-Su Valley Rebuild.

Addie Studebaker constructed the gallery by hand using reclaimed material from Mat-Su Valley...
Addie Studebaker constructed the gallery by hand using reclaimed material from Mat-Su Valley Rebuild.(Addie Studebaker)

“Getting to use all the power tools, and welding it, and doing all that stuff — I’m proud of it,” Studebaker said. “I did have a lot of, you know, encouragement, and I did have guidance when I needed it, which was great.”

Studebaker visits the gallery about twice a week, and keeps track of the collection by uploading photos on a public Instagram page. A few times she’s even run into the artists using the gallery to showcase their own work.

“I’ve gotten to meet so many people with this,” she said. “Especially in the beginning when people were curious about it and weren’t sure like what was going on.”

The small pitched cabinet is located on the southeast corner of Alaska St. and Cottonwood Ave. The rules are simple; take a piece, leave a piece. It can be anything creative, as long as it’s tiny. Studebaker said she’s seen everything from small acrylic paintings, woven pieces, small sculptures, and even decorated rocks.

“The people that are drawn to this, I feel, are ‘small things’ people,” she laughed. “It’s really been fun to see people freak out about the tiny things in here.”