Although Crossfield is now her home base, Conn said she also dreams of one day opening a larger art gallery in Airdrie.
Airdrie resident and Crossfieldian-turned-Crossfieldian, Erin Conn has opened “the world’s tiniest art gallery” in Crossfield, serving as a showcase and work studio for the creation of her living artworks.
Conn, the owner of Tiny CONNtempo Gallery, said there are many small art galleries around the world, but she believes she now claims to own the “smallest” gallery in the world at just over 10 square meters.
“It’s really small and the ceiling is probably only seven feet high,” Conn said of her new studio. “You must not be too tall to go in there. It’s almost like Alice in Wonderland.”
Conn said that since she moved to Crossfield with her family six months ago, she has often walked down Railway Street where she came across a tiny flat that was available for rent.
She inquired about the space and had the idea of setting up a small art gallery there.
“I kept thinking, ‘This would be a good little place to do a tiny little gallery,’ so I just went for it,” she said. “I’m going to paint there and then I have original work, prints, mugs, cool tote bags, coasters and stationery that I print my artwork on.”
The artist’s work can be seen on public mainstays such as power boxes and bus tickets in Airdrie and is exhibited in art galleries across Canada and the United States
She hopes to make her art affordable and accessible to everyone, regardless of their economic status.
“I understand that it’s so hard for people to buy art right now because life is so expensive,” Conn said. “So I wanted to offer paper prints and other things that can be affordable so that everyone can enjoy art, not just wealthy people who buy original paintings.”
Opening a working art gallery has always been a dream for Conn, who says she was inspired by Angela Morgan Studio – a working art studio – in Fernie, BC
“It’s nice that people can come in and see your work, but [also see] They’re working on something,” she said. “And then they can always come back 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 have been painting at home with two children for the last 15 years [and] I hardly spoke to anyone,” she said, laughing. “So it’s nice to be able to share it with the community and meet people and bring the art to such a small town that doesn’t have anything like it yet.”
As her children grow older and don’t take up as much time these days, Conn enjoys the freedom to work in her own space without interruptions.
“I can focus a little bit more on making more art and just being more creative,” she said.
“Because of the way the world has evolved over the last couple of years, I figured it’s always something I wanted to do, so why am I waiting? I might as well at least try, right?”
According to Conn, her artwork shows a modern take on pointillism. The style has been compared to Braille and often involves thousands of tiny, raised dots of color on an artwork.
“I’m actually pushing [the dots] through a tube, so it’s a lot of texture,” she said. “I have made [art with] Points since I was a little kid but now it’s just exploded.
“If you look at some of my paintings you can’t necessarily see it from afar, but when you get close to the work it’s mostly just dots.”
Although not long open, Conn’s unique artistry is already on full display in her working art studio. The new space celebrated its grand opening on August 13th and friends and family came for the unveiling.
“Some people from the area came by and they said they saw it on Facebook and came in, so that was nice,” she said. “I need to meet some people.”
According to the artist, Crossfield is now her home base, but she also dreams of one day opening a larger art gallery in Airdrie.
“At some point I would like to have a bigger space so that I could also present other artists,” she said. “I’ve always wanted a place where I can teach kids classes or have fun coloring evenings.
“I’d like to be there.”