I’ve got the first show up in the very pink Dollhouse Art Center! It’s part of the Angelica Kauffman Gallery family. I wanted to repaint the outside, I really did, but it has so many windows! So much trim work! I left it pink.
Since it’s an art center, there’s a cafe, The Calavera Cafe, named for the block printed installed in the cafe, “Calavera” by Alex Brightbill.
Backstory on the Dollhouse Art Center
I often work with the form of the house in my art. I’ve made little houses out of board books, I’ve purchased wood boxes with little peaked roofs on them, and modified store-bought shelves to turn them into houses.
So when I saw this dollhouse on the curb, where people set things to give them away, I snagged it and cleaned it up. Then one of my kids wanted it for an actual plaything. When you make art out of toys, sometimes you have to share, which I’m totally fine with. Years later, it came back to me and it sat and sat in my studio and I almost donated it, but luckily, I held on to it.
Then I started building my box galleries, the 12″ x 12″ x 12″ white cube art galleries. Like so many things, once you get into it, you see more possibilities and you need more. I’ve built four micro galleries, 3 are 12″ x 12″ x 12″ and one is 12″ x 16″ x 12″.
I’ve hosted solo shows, group shows, and have expanded into showing murals on the outside of the galleries! Artists are being awesome about loaning work and it’s lots of fun.
I started painting the dollhouse interior white and searching for affordable, just-the-right-size tables for the cafe. Friends and family gave me cafe chairs, just for the fun of making the little chairs! (We should do a tutorial on making chairs…)
Have you ever painted the inside of a dollhouse? Yikes! So much trim work! So tiny! Glad that’s done. Though I really wanted the exterior to be a nice teal or robins egg blue, I decided that the exterior didn’t matter much, since most of the time, people will be looking at the inside.
First Show in the Dollhouse Art Center
The most fun thing these days is checking the mail, what delightful little works of art will I see when I open the mail today? New arrivals from Millicent Fambrough, Bonnie Glassner, Becka Rahn and Alexandra Pierschalla arrived just in time to make it into this show!
I moved two works by Alex Brightbill from a show in a box gallery into this show and added a quilt by Jen Frost and a couple pieces by me. Terry Clabour contributed her mosaics and a ceramic piece.
Where You Can See the Dollhouse Art Center
Calypso Moon Studio, at 331B Harrison Street in Oak Park is hosting the Angelica Kauffman Dollhouse Art Center in their window! It’s a working studio and not open to the public, but the windows are open for viewing!
Things to Consider if Converting Your Dollhouse to a Gallery or Art Center
Dollhouses are a bit fiddlier to work with, since they have ceilings and the rooms can be quite small. They have lots of wall space, but visibility may not be as good as in a box gallery that doesn’t have a ceiling/roof.
On the upside, there are multiple rooms, and that invites possibilities such as themed exhibitions, cafes, and art activity rooms!
I suppose dollhouses also very clearly communicate to the viewer, “this is a miniature gallery.” With my box galleries, I’ve been told that the main thing that “gave it away” was the lighting, that the lighting came from too far away. (I adjusted my lighting.).
What I had to fix in this dollhouse: replace missing door trim, repair some splitting wood, paint interior, add sign, create cafe, add flooring. The flooring is peel and stick dollhouse flooring from Etsy seller Itsy Bitsy Mini.
Here’s the sign that lists out which artwork is by which artist.