By Published On: March 31, 2023Categories: Business Profiles

Story By Natalie Salvatore

Photos Contributed By Samantha Buell

If you’re an artist, owner of The Little Art Collective

Samantha Buell encourages you to reach out and join this

new gallery’s growing network. Upon moving to Auburn in

the summer of 2021, artist Buell had started looking around

for a place to display her own art.

“There weren’t a lot of great options as far as galleries or

boutiques,” Buell said. “I was disappointed and spent months

trying to decide what was next for me.”

However, things turned around when she found a space as

part of the micro, women-owned retail shops at the Southerly

Warehouse in Opelika a year later. Her interest in wanting a

space for her work transformed into a new idea of starting an art

gallery after learning of the company’s motto, which centered

around community building and encouraging creativity in startup

companies.

“I didn’t have the idea for the Collective until I saw the space,

and it all came together so quickly,” she said. “‘Be the gallery

you wish to see’ kind of moment.”

After studying environmental conservation in school and

working in the restaurant industry for much of her life, Buell

took a chance on starting a new hobby a few years prior to the

Collective when she bought painting supplies after a photograph

inspired her.

“I immediately fell in love,” she said. “I’ve always been

creative and kept a sketch book most of my life. Sketching just

wasn’t my language, but painting clicked right away.”

Buell has had two art exhibits of her own, using that personal

experience to her advantage as a business owner.

“I’ve sold a modest amount of artwork and completed custom

works for friends and friends of friends,” she said.

With her business, Buell said she strives to bridge the gap

between artists and the surrounding community.

With her art gallery, she provides a welcoming place for

artists to collaborate and feel celebrated for their contributions to

creativity in art.

Each month, the gallery typically displays between 12 to 18

artists, showcasing different art mediums such as ceramics,

jewelry, fine art, photography, folk art, glassware, prints and

stickers. With each month’s new works and new artists also

comes midweek wine nights and a chance for the artwork to be

sold.

Buell said she had no idea that so many artists were in the

surrounding Auburn-Opelika community. This was another

reason she said she knew her business was the next best step in

terms of what Opelika could gain. With posting on social media

platforms to find and connect these artists to one another, she realized the extent of the local interest in displaying artwork right in her backyard.

“I am thrilled to provide a space for local artists to connect

with the community, and I hope it continues to grow,” Buell said.

“Art is for everyone — every medium, every price and every

age.”

Not only do adults have the opportunity to showcase their

work, but children do too. She explained how students from

kindergarten to 12th grade competed in the Junior Federal Duck

Stamp Competition in November as budding artists.

“We love encouraging children in the arts,” Buell said. “There

is nothing sweeter than a local second grader or aspiring artist

coming in with their parents to see their artwork in a gallery with

other artists.”

Buell said she hopes that future artists will continue to

collaborate, perhaps even in a larger space someday. She is

proud that her gallery represents the region’s artists and the

growing local talent.

“We are off the beaten path of downtown Opelika, but we are a

must see,” she said. “Art impacts how we perceive and interpret

culture and contributes to the identity of our region.”

You can find The Little Art Collective at 309 S. 10th St., Suite

C. Hours of operation run from 3 to 7 p.m. on Fridays and from

11 a.m. to 2 p.m. on the weekends. An event from 5 to 8 p.m.

on the second Friday of each month features new showcases

to check out as well. For more information, call 334-787-9181

or visit the Facebook page at https://www.facebook.com/

thelittleartcollective.

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