If you see a “missing person” notice in the Fort Ward area, don’t worry too much.
It’s probably just someone messing around with Sam George’s “Tiny Art Gallery” on 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 now works. She told him she wanted one and asked him to build it. So he built one for himself too.
The concept is that people take an artwork from the gallery and leave one too. “Exactly. It’s the most Bainbridge thing,” George said.
The house he built for the gallery is about 2 feet wide and 1 foot high. He said he didn’t really consider himself an artist, but was a carpenter and there was “a bit of art in that.”
He was going to do a simple box but decided to make it more interesting with a few angles to add depth and perspective. After painting and staining it, it took about four days. “He has a lot of character. At night you can still see it.
When this was done, nothing happened the first few days. Now, “art appears everyday and disappears.”
One thing that disappeared was a person. He put miniature figures in it that others moved around. But now one is gone. “He was kidnapped,” George said, adding that he heard it happened at a similar gallery, and that the kidnapper demanded candy for his return.
Other things inside the gallery are furniture and racks to put artworks. He put little postcards of Monet’s paintings at the beginning to “make it clear what it’s for”.
George said that some people leave trinkets, but it seems other people actually put in small, quirky works of art. A bow sculpture was left with one of the minifigures holding it. Small artworks of a well-known painting also appeared. A colored egg and a flower were also left behind. “It’s really fun to see 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 it. It brings a focal point to the neighborhood,” he said, adding that he even has his own Instagram account on 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 pop up in all kinds of places,” he said.