Tom Thumb Gallery

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The Tom Thumb Annual Floating Art Exhibition, founded in 1998, by Jimmy Kuehnle and Kjell Hahn [1] is a student run alternative exhibition opportunity located in Kirksville, Missouri. It is one of two alternative exhibition opportunities from the gallery at Truman State University. The second is Gallery 1/33. [2]



The Tom Thumb Annual Floating Art Exhibition was founded to provide exhibition opportunities for students and artists at Truman State University and Kirksville. It rose out of a frustration with Truman State Gallery's Student Juried Exhibition and the lack of student exhibition opportunists outside the BFA shows and the then annual Student Show. Kuehnle and Kjell did not like the standards and restrictions placed on them by the University. They decided to begin their own alternative space. [3] In 1998, they cleared out Kjell's apartment and held an open art submission. [4] The following three years the shows were held there. It then moved to a renovated home located at 603 First Street for the next two years. Since it has been held at various locations including the former Aquadome, [5] the old One World Store, [6] the Kirksville Arts Association [1] and the Washington School. [7] Local people call it a "floating exhibition" because of these yearly venue changes. [8] The Tom Thumb Annual Floating Art Exhibition does not reject submissions of any kind and usually features a guest speaker and other forms of entertainment. One such novelty is called, "Improve the Art" and consists of a poor artwork provided by the gallery. Guests are then invited to "improve" the artwork with various art supplies ranging from oil pastels to spray paint. [9]


Significance in local culture

The rotating arts festival has been featured in Missouri tourism brochures. [8] The Tom Thumb Annual Floating Art Exhibition is viewed by the student body as a positive creative outlet to be proud of and as an alternative to destructive outbursts such as graffiti. [31] [32] A college blogger has critically noted that the phrasing "Floating Art Exhibition" may be misleading, since the gallery is not restricted to art that may be suspended in air or bobbing in some body of water. [33]

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