TINY TREASURES

4 Big Tiny Things to See Around Town

Mini murals and little galleries are waiting just around the street corner.

By Alexia Partouche Published in the Winter 2022 issue of Houstonia Magazine

The Little Galleries is a public art program by Artists for Artists of miniature galleries around Houston.

Usually, yes, everything is bigger in Texas. But these days, Houston artists have been going small instead—very small. From pocket-sized art galleries to miniscule murals, H-Town is full of miniature masterpieces just waiting to be discovered.

Little Galleries

 
Heights, Midtown

Art museums are great, but there’s something charming about enjoying art in the fresh air—perhaps made even more charming if that art is tiny. That’s what Little Galleries are for. These signature teal boxes sprinkled around the city hold miniaturized gallery scenes featuring art from Houston-based artists. In the past, the galleries have hosted everything from textile creations to mixed-media photography, and they’re always looking for new artists and mediums to highlight. On Heights Boulevard alone, you can find three. Spot the first by The MendCenter and then wander up to the second in front of Lululemon, before ending your little gallery walk at the third located outside of Ike’s Love & Sandwiches. You can also find one next to the city hall reflection pond, and another beside Axelrad Beer Garden.

Free Little Art Gallery

 
Montrose

Take a stroll through Montrose and you might just stumble upon Houston’s very own Free Little Gallery—a community-driven project that invites you to admire miniature art handmade by your neighbors. Unlike typical art museums, this gallery is interactive, and you’re always encouraged to add your own art to the gallery, to be appraised by a crowd of little plastic toys. So far, the gallery has featured everything from paper clip sculptures, to small-scale sketches, to itty-bitty beaded bracelets, all of which can also be seen on the gallery’s Instagram account. You’re also invited to reach in and take a piece of art home with you to remember the gallery by. 

Mini mural at 300 Westheimer Road at Dunlavy Street by Sylvia Blanco.

Mini Murals

 
Various locations

If you’re a Houstonian, it’s likely you’re familiar with these mini murals. Painted on traffic signal control boxes across the city, they manage to brighten even those moments when we’re stuck at a red light. But forget just staring at them in traffic—take a self-guided bike tour and get your daily exercise in while also admiring the art. Or sign up for an artist-led tour to get an insider look at the process. And if you think you’ve seen them all already, think again. Since 2021, Houston has been accepting applications for new artists to leave their marks on the boxes, so we should be seeing new murals pop up soon. 

United Way Tiny Libraries

 
Various locations

Shaped like giant birdhouses and decorated in bright colors, United Way’s Tiny Library program might be our favorite way of getting new reading material. These take-one, leave-one libraries usually contain around 50 children’s books each and were intentionally placed in lower-income areas in order to improve the access children have to age-appropriate books. Now, they’re all over the city, and chances are, there’s one right next door to you. So if your kids have already left the nest (and their old books) behind, or if they’re still in need of a new bedtime story every night, it’s an excellent stop to add to your morning or evening promenade.

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