Sketchpad Gallery’s ‘My Little Big Friend’ Celebrates Childlike Awe of the Animal Kingdom

There doesn’t seem to be an exact word in the English language for the feeling of intrigue that we feel uniquely towards the animal kingdom; that awe that comes with observing flying birds or four-legged creatures. The way we’re drawn in by both their familiar yet mysterious mannerisms and how their reality seems just outside of our five-fingered reach. This very same concept is the focus of Sketchpad Gallery’s upcoming art show “My Little Big Friend,” set to open Saturday, February 11th.

Free to color outside the lines, an all-star cast of heartfelt artists have been brought together to showcase their artwork and share their personal childhood connections to the wild. Artists include Hanna Abi-Hanna, Bagger43, Alfredo Cáceres, Monico Chavez, Olga Demidova, Lisk Feng, Lauren Henderson, Glenn Hernandez, Eda Kaban, Isabella Kung, Frank T. Lin, Lindsay McMinn and Lindsey Olivares.

This show is Frank T Lin’s second curatorial project, following “The Kids Explore,” a group show held two years ago in Osaka, Japan. We were eager to ask him some questions about the show’s concept and the selected artists, as he takes the latest show closer to home.

What was the selection process for finding these artists?
I start off by making a list off the top of my head. Once I have a list, I start looking online at people who fit to balance the original set. The selection process is a game of strategic searching. You never know who’s available, or who will even respond. All you can do is cast a narrow net that fits your vision of the show. You need to predict in your head how everyone’s art will work and support each other. The art styles have to flow and compete with each other, and yet not overpower. I’m always thinking of which artists will work well together, but aren’t too similar that you can’t tell them apart.

I make it a point to try and make sure that I work with new artists that I have no connection with, for at least half of the artists selected for the show. Finding these hidden gems online, and being able to reach out and show their work to a completely new audience is a very satisfying experience.

What message do you hope the show sends to viewers about humans and our relationship to the animal kingdom?
I want people to remember the warmth and magic that you believed was possible as a child, and channel it towards empathizing with other living beings.

What’s your spirit animal?
I wouldn’t say they’re my spirit animal, but I do have an affinity towards bears. I remember learning, when I was a kid, that Native Americans would think of bears as their brothers because they could stand on their hind feet.


+++ Sketchpad Gallery, 505 Natoma St (at 6th Street), SF
Show runs February 11-24th, Opening Saturday, February 11th, 4-8pm