Month: May 2014

Little Galleries, Big Ideas

Mini displays bring contemporary art to sidewalks

Little Galleries in Madison | Rachel Bruya & Jeremy Wineberg

by Sherry BonDurant, writer for The Artery

I was intrigued with Little Galleries as soon as I heard about them last year. I  jumped on my bike to check out the Little Monroe Gallery and have been following them ever since. I get excited in anticipation of the new art to be viewed every month, which is why I thought it would be great to meet the curators of this unique concept. I set up an interview with Rachel Bruya and Jeremy Wineberg on behalf of The Artery. They were a delight to chat with and learn all about the galleries right here.

How did Little Galleries come about, and do you have plans for more of them?

Rachel – I have always wanted to do something here like a backyard or garage gallery. I’ve thought about it for years and one day it just clicked. By doing something small it could be relatively easy to sustain both in time and cost. I mentioned my idea to Professor Gail Simpson in the Art Department at UW-Madison and she really liked the idea. She asked if the project could become part of the Service Learning in the Arts Course, which involved two students having internships with us, and she worked with the Art Department to provide funding for the materials to build the structures. This really helped us get off the ground and expand our plan to do more than one gallery, which is how Jeremy Wineberg got involved. Jeremy works on Monroe Street and worked with the owners of Monroe Street Framing to grant permission to use a small part of the property to site the Little Monroe Gallery. We applied for two grants through the City of Madison Arts Commission and the Dane County Cultural Affairs Commission. We spent the winter of 2012/2013 planning the program and designing and building the structures with the graduate students.

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How does an artist get their work into a Little Gallery?

We are currently accepting proposals for the 2015 season, and interested artists can submit their idea to Artists should have a good track record and be site-specific. We strongly suggest to anyone that submits a proposal should first visit the galleries and/or one of our events. Here is the link to submit your work –


Last year, we secured approval for a third gallery, Little Forward Gallery, near the  Red Gym on campus, and it will be installed as soon as we have it built. The gallery part of the structures are built out of steel with very thick glass to provide UV protection. They also have to be weather-proofed and vented and deter vandalism.  We originally thought we would build the structures more simply and out of less durable materials; however, one of the graduate students, who is a professional fabricator, convinced us to build them in a more substantial way.

Jeremy – We run into the same kinds of problems that big galleries have in terms of space, the design, and finding art to go into the space. What works nicely between the two galleries is that they are different shapes and proportions. We ask the artists to design work to fit into the spaces. It can get tricky, especially with the shape of the Little Monroe Gallery, but it challenges our artists to come up with very interesting solutions.


Does anyone keep an eye on the Little Galleries and which months are they on display?

Each gallery needs a caretaker, checking on them every day. They become part of the neighborhood and community, and we’ve found that neighbors keep an eye out for us too. Both Little Mifflin Gallery and Little Monroe Gallery run month-long solo shows from May through October. The shows switch the first week of the month.

Nathan Vernau's piece at the Little Mifflin Gallery.

Nathan Vernau’s piece at the Little Mifflin Gallery.

What is the message you hope to send to the community with Little Galleries?

We have a desire to make art accessible and part of an everyday experience. People are more familiar with art history, and we really want to show contemporary art that is happening right now and to help break down barriers and make art more accessible. We’re both passionate about the value of art in our culture and public art in particular, and we think of the Little Galleries as a type of public art.

Our mission is to expose the unsuspecting passerby to contemporary artwork. This drives every decision we make: from designing the structures, to siting the galleries and curating the shows. Artists are an important component of creating a vibrant city.  We want to provide the artist with a space to make something that is thought-provoking and professional, and allows the opportunity for their work to be seen by a wide audience.

monroe street Little GalleryHas this concept taken off in other cities that you are aware of?

While we were in the planning stages, we ran across some small galleries, but nothing that is happening right at the sidewalk and with a regular schedule of shows. We hope this concept will spread and we’ve had five or six artists in other states express interest in becoming part of the program. We’re always looking at ways to improve the program and this is one area we are very excited about.

Connect with Little Galleries!

You can find us on Facebook, Instagram, Twitter and Pinterest by searching “Little Galleries”. We do regular updates, including notification of our print-a-day-program.

Funding for Little Galleries is provided by the City of Madison Arts Commission; the University of Wisconsin-Madison with partial funding support by the Art Department Board of Visitors Fund; and Dane Arts with additional funds from the Evjue Foundation, charitable arm of the Capital Times.