Tiny Gallery brings street art to Bridgeland

Projects has plans to expand throughout city

A Tiny Gallery has popped up in the outdoor space next to Bridgeland Market.

Looking something like a small wooden phone booth topped by a glass display case when the structure first appeared near the intersection of 10th Street and First Avenue N.E. in February it housed a black glass figure titled “Oilman” by Calgary artist Tim Belliveau. The artwork changed at the beginning of March and now features a playful blown-glass character titled “Joybear” by Ryan Marsh Fairweather.

Tiny Gallery founder Peter Meadows says the Bridgeland art display is the prototype for a series of covered enclosed outdoor plinths that will be set up around in the city to showcase local artwork in areas with high pedestrian traffic. A graduate of the Alberta College of Art and Design he came up with the idea a year ago when he moved back to Calgary (he currently lives in Bridgeland).

“I wanted to do something that was going to promote pedestrian culture in the city community culture in the city and engagement with the arts” he says.

The prototype is the first phase of the project and Meadows says they put it up in winter as a test to make sure it could withstand extreme temperatures which it did and survive the nights without being tipped over or damaged which it also did.

“So far people have been pretty friendly toward it” he adds.

The second phase will include the addition of two more plinths along First Avenue N.E. in Bridgeland this spring — the three combined will make up one show space and feature works by a different local artist or collective each month. In the final phase of the project which is planned for 2015 Tiny Gallery will expand to other areas of the city with three to five plinths in each neighbourhood. Meadows says they will most likely be located in existing Business Revitalization Zones because they already have high pedestrian traffic.

“I wanted to bridge the gaps between gallery art street art and public art” says Meadows adding that people are often reluctant to go to galleries because they feel intimidated or perceive them as elite.

Bridgeland Market’s Yousef Traya says when Meadows approached him with a pitch for the idea it didn’t take much convincing — the well-known neighbourhood booster welcomed the project.

“It’s not taking up too much space it adds to the community” says Traya who even promoted it with a “Tiny Gallery” message on the market’s sign on the side of the building. “It’s great — people walk up to it every day.”

Traya says the city is fortunate to have so many sculptures people can view as they’re walking around such as Jaume Plensa’s metal head sculpture outside The Bow. “It’s kind of neat that someone did a grassroots one too.”

Tiny Gallery is currently soliciting submissions from Calgary artists and collectives ( tinygallery.ca ).