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Artist opens ‘world’s tiniest’ gallery just north of Calgary

There are many small art galleries around the world, but Erin Conn believes she now lays claim to the world’s “tiniest” at just over 100 square feet.

Airdrie resident turned Crossfieldian Erin Conn has opened "the world’s tiniest art gallery” in Crossfield, serving as a showcase space and working studio for the creation of her vibrant art pieces.

Conn, the owner of Tiny CONNtempo Gallery, said there are many small art galleries around the world, but she believes she now lays claim to boasting the world’s “tiniest” gallery, at just over one hundred square feet.

“It’s really small and the ceiling is probably only seven feet,” Conn said of her new studio. “You can’t be too tall to walk in there. It’s almost like Alice in Wonderland.”

Conn said since moving to Crossfield with her family six months ago, she would often walk along Railway Street, where she came across a tiny little place that was up for rent.

She inquired about the space and dreamt up the idea of creating a small art gallery there.

“I kept thinking, ‘This would be a good little spot to do a tiny little gallery,’ so I just went for it,” she said. “I’m going to be painting in there, and then I’ll have original work, prints, mugs, cool tote bags, coasters, and stationery I print my artwork on.”

The artist's work is featured on public mainstays such as electrical boxes and bus passes around Airdrie, as well as showcased in art galleries across Canada and the U.S. 

She hopes to make her art affordable and accessible for everyone, regardless of their economic status.

“I understand it’s so hard for people right now to purchase art because it’s so expensive to live,” Conn said. “That’s why I wanted to offer paper prints and stuff that can be affordable so everyone can enjoy art, not just wealthy people buying original paintings.”

Opening a working art gallery has always been a dream for Conn, who said she was inspired by the likes of Angela Morgan Studio – a working art studio – in Fernie, B.C.

“It’s nice that people can walk in and see your work, but [also see] you working on something,” she said. “And then they can keep visiting if they want to see a work in progress, which I think is really nice too.”

She also wanted to open an art gallery to get to know her new community of Crossfield a little better.

“I’ve been at home with two kids for the last 15 years painting [and] I barely talked to anybody,” she said with a laugh. “So, it’s nice to be able to share it with the community and get to know people and bring the arts to such a small little town that doesn’t have anything like that yet.”

Since her children are getting older and don’t need as much of her time these days, Conn said she is enjoying the freedom of being able to work in her own space with few interruptions.

“I can focus a little bit more on producing more art and just being more creative,” she said.

“Because of the way the world has been in the last couple of years, I just figured it’s always something I've wanted to do, so why am I waiting? I might as well just give it a shot at least, right?”

According to Conn, her artwork features a modern take on pointillism. Likened to braille, the style often includes thousands of tiny, raised dots of paint on a piece of art.

“I actually squeeze [the dots] through a tube, so it’s a lot of texture,” she said. “I’ve been doing [art with] dots since I was a little kid, but now it’s just kind of exploded.

“If you look at some of my paintings, you can’t necessarily tell from far away, but when you get up to the piece, it’s mostly all dots”

Though it hasn't been open for long, Conn’s unique artistry is already on full display at her working art studio. The new space celebrated its grand opening on Aug. 13, and friends and family came out for the unveiling.

“I did have quite a few people from the area walk by and they said they saw it on Facebook and came in, so that was nice,” she said. “I got to meet a couple of people.”

According to the artist, Crossfield is now her home base, but she also dreams of opening a larger art gallery in Airdrie one day.

“Eventually I would like to have a bigger space so I could showcase other artists too,” she said. “I’ve always wanted to have a space where I could do lessons for kids or have fun paint nights.

“That’s where I would love to be at.”

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