Along With the World’s Smallest Park, We Have Perhaps the Tiniest Gallery

Grant Brady set to work building a 1/12-scale art showroom for his front yard.

As an environmental engineer recently arrived in Portland, Grant Brady rarely mentions his career when chatting up strangers. “Right now, I tell people that I own an art gallery,” he says. “I sound very successful. Little do they know it’s about 2 cubic feet.”

Upon leaving Oregon State University and purchasing a home just off Southeast Powell Boulevard two years ago, Brady set to work building a 1/12-scale art showroom for his front yard, complete with toy figurine patrons and rotating diorama shows of surprising intricacy. “I did an orange polka-dot Yayoi Kusama exhibit during October that was really fun, and one [inspired by] fiber artist Gabriel Dawe and his spectrum strings. An installation piece might take a lot more time than a normal person would put in, but I’m just really into changing the look and feel.”

Beyond Brady’s individual efforts, there has been a continual flow of new works submitted by browsers encouraged to take home a favored piece so long as it’s replaced with a creation of their own. “I get a lot of dog walkers and people walking by, normal street traffic, but I’m always really impressed when somebody goes out of their way,” Brady says. “I’ve had visitors from Canada, Bellingham, Seattle, Eugene, Berkeley.”

Though his might be the most fiercely curated, Brady’s gallery is far from the nation’s first such fun-sized take-a-penny, give-a-penny showcase, and Portland boasts a good number of variants. “The woman who runs the PDX Dinorama and I found 26 little exchanges around town and made what we call the Sidewalk Joy map. There are toy exchanges and seed exchanges. Somebody makes pottery you can buy for $5, one has fun little Lego mini-figures, this literal dog library has a stick exchange and miniature park on top—it’s really cute.”

Brady expects attendance to steadily rise through the spring while he expands his social media presence in conjunction with upcoming exhibits themed to Pride, “Earth Month” and, for February, another tribute to Kusama centered on hot pink tentacles. As his virality ascends, Brady would eagerly accept donations from an art supply store for materials passersby could grab for their own endeavors, but he dismisses notions of “directly monetizing or selling merch. I like the fact that it’s all purely just for free.”

“As a kid, if you have the idea of being an artist, the biggest thing you could do is get your art in a gallery,” he says, “so I just made that really accessible on a sidewalk scale. Just hearing from people what this location means to them, it’s like a bright spot of joy.”

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