In December 2022, around the time when the city was reeling from a rough winter storm and prepping for cheerful Christmas markets, a free little art gallery was born at 815 Edinburgh St.
In the three months since it was installed using an old curio cabinet and a discarded kitchen table, it has grown into a treasure chest for tiny watercolour paintings, Valentine’s Day hearts, bookmarks by a four-year-old artist and more — all of which were donated to the gallery and for anyone to grab for free.
It was the brainchild of Fulton Tom, a retired economics instructor, who had come across such galleries during his travels in the United States, as he told the Record. Set up in his front yard, the gallery is managed by Tom along with a collective that includes New West artist Merril Hall and two students from New Westminster Secondary School.
Tom's work includes creating a permanent record of all the artwork that comes into the gallery on its Instagram page. Artists who donate their works are tagged; this way the gallery is also a platform to promote and discover new artists, Tom said in the interview.
After three months of quietly offering free art to anyone who cares to stop by, the gallery is now shouting out its presence with a gala opening on March 4 — there'll be refreshments, live jazz, blues, folk and Hawaiian music by Nate Batara, and poetry by New Westminster’s poet laureate Elliott Slinn.
At the event, visitors can also partake in workshops on how to make painted heart magnets (by Kelly Poitras), needle-felted mushrooms (by Lynda Schmidt) and art using seeds (by Hall).
The event is free, just as every artwork in the gallery.
The event is between 1 and 4 p.m. on Saturday, March 4. Bring a chair, mug, eating utensils and a snack to share. The Free Little Art Gallery is located at 815 Edinburgh St. If driving to the venue, park your car on the east side of Eighth Street or at NWSS).