Free little art gallery boosts spirits along Brandon active transportation trail
Galley installed along Braecrest Drive on Brandon's North Hill
Little free libraries have become a staple in many neighbourhoods, giving passersby a chance to take a book, read a book or leave a book.
But in one Brandon, Man., neighbourhood, a little free art gallery has popped up, encouraging others to try their hand at art to share with others, while also beautifying the community.
Errin Witherspoon's love of art has grown since the pandemic began and she wanted to share that love with others.
"Of course, with the situation that we're in, it's really hard to connect with any other artists and I really wanted to build a sense of community," she told CBC News.
As well, "it can sometimes feel a little bit lonely in the situation that we're in, so I thought if I could put up this little free art gallery, it might build a little bit of that connection."
Witherspoon and her husband began planning.
The couple came up with a design that features a small box on a pole that can be lowered, ensuring it's accessible to little ones or those who use mobility aids and might not reach up high.
Artists can leave their own work inside the box, and visitors are invited to take the art home. Some people have even left art supplies for others in the tiny gallery.
Witherspoon also said she wanted the gallery to be placed somewhere where it would be accessible to many people, and got permission from the city to put it along the active transportation trail on Braecrest Drive, on Brandon's North Hill.
It also has a light for those who might might be night owls.
She also made sure to include sidewalk chalk in the box for people to leave uplifting messages and art of their own along the trail.
"There's been messages up and down the path in support," she said. "There's been people messaging me to let me know the impact it has had on their household."
The support and uptake among people in the neighbourhood so far has been "wonderful," Witherspoon said.
"All positive, lots of support — a little bit overwhelming at times, but it's been really positive."
Witherspoon said she got the idea for the Brandon gallery after seeing a similar community gallery in Seattle online.
She came to enjoy art while recovering from an eating disorder. Her therapist encouraged her to continue painting and her love for art blossomed.
"That doodling turned into a journal for people in recovery from an eating disorder and that turned into painting," she said.
"I find my time at the easel or my art desk is really therapeutic."
WATCH | Errin Witherspoon speaks with Janet Stewart on CBC Winnipeg News at 6:
She hopes her idea encourages others to give art a try and even start their own little art galleries.
"Brandon is not a huge city. We're a relatively small community," she said. "But even so, not everybody can make it to the one location.
"I'd love to see more in Brandon. I'd definitely support that if anyone was so inclined, to help them with it."
With files from Janet Stewart