If you see a “missing person” notice in the Fort Ward area don’t be too alarmed.
It’s probably just someone having fun with Sam George’s “Tiny Art Gallery” at the corner of Watch Hill Drive and Fort Ward Hill Road NE.
George, a former builder, heard about similar galleries from a Kirkland friend at Microsoft where he works now. She told him she wanted one, and asked him to build it. So, he built one for himself, too.
The concept is for people to take a piece of art from the gallery, and leave one too. “That’s the whole point. It’s the most Bainbridge thing,” George said.
The house he built for the gallery is about 2 feet wide and a foot tall. He said he doesn’t really think of himself as an artist, but he is a woodworker, and there is “a bit of art to that.”
He was going to make a simple box but decided to make it more interesting with some angles to add depth and perspective. After painting and staining it, it took about four days. “It has a lot of character. At night you can still see it.”
When it was done, nothing happened the first few days. Now, “Art is showing up every day and disappearing.”
One thing that disappeared was a person. He put some miniature people in there that others have been moving around. But now one is gone. “It was kidnapped,” George said, adding he heard that happened at a similar gallery, and the kidnapper demanded jelly beans for its return.
Other things inside the gallery are furniture and stands to put artwork on. He put small postcards of Monet’s paintings in there at the start to “get the point across of what it’s for.”
George said some people leave trinkets, but it looks like other people actually put in original small artwork. A sculpture of a bow was left with one of the figurines holding it. Small artwork of a well-known painting also showed up. A colored egg and flower also have been left. “It’s really fun to watch what people do with it,” he said.
George said he lives in a tight-knit community where the neighbors all know each other. “They love this. It brings a focal point to the neighborhood,” he said, adding it even has its own Instagram account at fortwardtinygallery. “It’s taken on a life of its own.”
George said he could really see this idea taking off on the island. He said even the art studio tour might want to include them. “They could crop up in all sorts of places,” he said.