The first of the four mini-art galleries planned for Lafayette was installed in Moncus Park before the opening on January 1.
The new mini art gallery, which artist Bob Borel offered as part of a local art grant, functions as a small free library. Instead of swapping books in the decorated, weatherproof box, however, people are encouraged to swap tiny works of art.
“Once you see the box, you get it immediately,” Borel said. “We’ve been working on it for months, we put the finishing touches on it and installed it. We took care to consider the weather and the kids. We don’t want kids to get hurt or break it easily.”
The exterior of the box features murals by artists Kristie Mayeaux and Marshall Blevins. Their artwork also sheds light on Moncus Park’s history as the University of Louisiana at Lafayette Horse Farm.
“The idea is that even if someone showed up and it was empty on the inside, there would still be art on the outside,” Borel said.
Three other mini art galleries will be set up in the New Year in the Lafayette neighborhoods.
One is planned in Freetown at the Acadian Superette, another in Fightinville at the Victory Garden and the last at the McComb-Veazy in Pontiac Point.
Artist Lafayette Aileen Bennett will also draw a map of the four art gallery locations to help the community locate them as part of the public art project.
“People responded really, really positively,” Borel said. “It’s all about community interaction. It’s really a community work. People are encouraged to bring in a work of art.”
The mini art galleries are built by Blanchard Home Improvements and are made possible by an ArtSpark grant of $ 2,700.
The Annual Grants Program, a project of the Lafayette Economic Development Authority and the Acadiana Center for the Arts, directly supports Acadiana artists for specific, short-term projects that benefit the community.
Borel was inspired to start the mini art galleries for an ArtSpark grant after reading a report about a woman in Seattle who converted her small free library into a miniature art gallery during the pandemic.
“It’s not my original idea,” Borel said. “But I like art where you don’t expect it.”
“Pirouette. Switch places. OK, now grope the ball.”
Find Lafayette’s first mini art gallery at Moncus Park, 2913 Johnston St. The gallery is located near the Durel Bell where the weekly Farmers’ Market is held.
People are encouraged to take and leave tiny works of art that are no larger than a postcard.
Learn more about the public art project at instagram.com/lafayetteminiartgalleries.
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