WINNIPEG -- The COVID-19 pandemic prompted a Manitoba artist to create an accessible free little art gallery in Brandon to spread creativity and build a sense of community.

Artist Errin Witherspoon said she is pretty new to the art scene – she had just started selling her art last year when the pandemic hit.

"Because of COVID, I found it really difficult for me to connect with other artists in Brandon, there has just been no outlet for that and no way to do it," she said.

After seeing a similar idea in Seattle, she decided a free little art gallery would be a great fit for Brandon too.

"I thought this project – when I saw it might be a great way for me to connect with some other artists in the area, even online, so that I can start building some relationships and a sense of community there."

The art gallery, which is located at 1130 Braecrest Drive in Brandon, is similar to little community libraries – but instead of books, those passing by can help themselves to art.

Free little art gallery Brandon(Source: Errin Witherspoon)

"People who pass by are free to have a look inside, and if there is a piece of art that's in there that they love – they can take it home, no questions asked," Witherspoon said. "Alternatively, if somebody is feeling creative and they would like to put some art in the gallery, they are free to do that as well."

After securing a permit with the city, Witherspoon said her husband built the gallery and she filled it with art.

The gallery opened at the beginning of April, and in the time since, Witherspoon said it has received a fantastic response from the community.

She said people are starting to leave their own pieces of art in the gallery, and are leaving chalk messages of support and encouragement on the sidewalk.

The gallery features a hand crank and solar light to make it more accessible.

Free little art gallery Brandon(Source: Errin Witherspoon)

"If the gallery is too high and you are using a mobility device, for example, it can be lowered easily with the crank that’s on it so that everybody has access to it," Witherspoon said.

For those thinking about visiting the free little art gallery, Witherspoon has some advice.

"I would say don't hold back. I would say create whatever it is that your heart wants you to create. Try not to worry about what anybody is going to think about what you've created," she said, "And make sure it is 10 inches by 10 inches or smaller; otherwise, it won't fit in the gallery."