Welcoming neighbours to a Free Little Art Gallery

Joan Jung unveiling the Free Little Art Gallery in front of her home.

One might think it’s not easy to create a sense of community in the shadow of the looming Oakridge Centre redevelopment. And it’s probably not.

But one couple is giving it a serious go, from their home just a couple of blocks north on Cambie Street.

On Family Day (February 21) they welcomed about 55 neighbours from a wide range of backgrounds and ages to the unveiling of a Free Little Art Gallery (FLAG) in front of their home – which already hosts a free little library and a garden from which they share produce.

Joan Shannon Jung hosted the midday gathering, beginning with hot drinks and snacks and moving on to the unveiling. Here is her presentation:

Thank you so much for coming to the grand opening of our free little art gallery! We’re so glad you are here. 

To start out our gathering, I’d like to acknowledge that we live, work and create on the unceded and traditional lands of the Musqueam, the Squamish and the Tsleil-Waututh nations.

The base of our gallery is made of a cedar log, taken from just over here [in the front yard], and we hope when you pass by and see its beauty that you will acknowledge the significance of cedar to the Musqueam people and be mindful of how we steward this land.

The idea for this gallery is quite simple. Make art. Leave art. Take art. It will function the same way as our free little library. It’s open to everyone. You can admire the art, you can take a piece that you like and you can create something to be shared in this gallery.

A neighbour and her art.

We first heard of this concept during the pandemic, when a woman in Seattle started one in front of her home and soon they multiplied across the U.S. and the world.

Barry and I have longed to gather once again with our neighbours, and we think this is a great way to connect until we can do full in person gatherings once again! We want to encourage all creativity, and all ages, to participate. Be inspired by others. 

The instructions are posted on the side of the gallery, but briefly, when you take a piece or when you leave a piece, take a picture and post it on Instagram using our hashtag. If you don’t use Instagram, you can always take a picture and email it to us.

There are supplies in a bowl on the table, with canvases and paper cut for you to help yourself to, so that you can contribute to the gallery in the future!

Joan and Barry Jung have been a welcome presence in their neighbourhood for many years.

We are grateful to the Vancouver Foundation’s Neighbourhood Small Grants for their support towards these supplies and the treats provided today. We encourage you to apply for grants for your own projects that connects neighbours. Please ask Barry or me about how to do this.

We are almost ready for the big reveal! If the following artists could join me up at the gallery as your piece is in our opening show. Laura, Sandra . . .

Just a note: for today’s event, we will not be taking art from the gallery so that we can all enjoy the art for today. After the event, then feel free to take your favourite. For today, take a card from the take away basket here!

Let’s do a countdown! From 10, 9 . . .

Photos of each artist holding their art in front of the gallery.

Get more hot chocolate or coffee and treats! Thank you for coming!

That’s how you do it. Barry and Joan have been on this neighbourly trajectory for quite some time. Last fall, Barry initiated and helped out with another art project by a talented neighbour, just around the corner on 39th Avenue.

Click on picture to watch video

Check out the accompanying video about ‘The Touch’ by Evgeny Kiktenko. A brief description of the art work was posted by Barry on the Neighbourhood Small Grants site; here is a portion:

As we come out of the ‘great pause’ of this pandemic, we all have experienced hope in different ways. I saw hope embedded in the art of my neighbour, Evgeny.

He started displaying his art publicly outside his home during the height of the pandemic to encourage and inspire those that walked by his exhibition. They impacted me greatly, so I asked him to consider a bigger project with support from Neighbourhood Small Grants.

It took a committed group of supporters to get this project to completion, including a small band of neighbours on the night before installation to transport, install and touch up his project – a mural inspired by Michelangelo’s ‘Creation of Adam.’

When I featured several neighbourhood stories back in 2018, I included this:

  • Barry Jung: The Art of Neighbouring

My involvement with our neighbours first began shortly after hearing neighbourhood stories and reference to Vancouver Foundation’s 2012 Connections and Engagement Survey. The survey results and the stories prompted me and my wife to begin our practice of neighbouring. I use the term practice as I feel it emphasizes an intentionality of being an active neighbour. This act of intentional neighbouring is rooted in my faith – that to love God, is to love neighbour.

Go here for several stories about, or including, Joan and Barry’s creative efforts.

They have received some attention from the media as well. Go here for an appreciate story on The Tyee site for example: ‘Feeling Isolated in Their Neighbourhood, This Couple Planted a Seed. Oh, How it Bloomed.’

Barry says the next funding cycle for Neighbourhood Small Grants will be open for applications March 15. There are links to specific neighbourhood sites throughout Metro Vancouver.

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