If you go

What: Tiny Art Show

When: Opens 5:30-8 tonight during First Friday Gallery Walk

Where: tbd loft, 1000 Wall St., #201, Bend

Cost: Free

Contact: www.facebook.com/tinyheyproject or 541-728-8376

Angela Reid believes everybody has a story to tell.

She heard many stories as a volunteer at the Bethlehem Inn, a Bend homeless shelter. Reid volunteered there for 10 months, a time in which she heard many stories that were “deeply personal and surprisingly universal.”

She said, “There were a lot of people with stories that sounded like (they) could be anyone we know.”

The creative director and copywriter at tbd agency began to see the possibilities in a letter-writing exchange between shelter residents and neighborhoods in Bend.

However, given the serious work going on at the Inn, “I didn’t want to impose what felt like a fanciful idea on them,” she said over coffee last week at Crow’s Feet Commons.

Reid didn’t fold on the idea of a community letter swap, however. This month, she’s launching Tiny Hey, a grassroots art and postcard-writing exchange. The project debuts at tonight’s First Friday Gallery Walk, at tbd agency.

The exhibit features about 30 small works created by a variety of Central Oregon artists, 25 in all. Some of the works will be used on the project’s postcards.

Reid put out the call to artists by placing blank cards around town and through social media. She also reached out to artists she’s acquainted with through her work at tbd.

“Word spread. The first submissions I got were from people I knew, and then a lot trickled in from people I’d never heard of before, so that’s pretty exciting, to learn who’s out there,” she said.

The idea of incorporating an art show into the project came “when I decided it needed to be small and approachable and therefore postcards,” as opposed to long-form letters, she said. “And shouldn’t it be something that adds a little depth to the conversation?”

Further, “some people are not verbal storytellers, they’re visual storytellers,” she said. Some of the pieces displaying will be for sale. Prices vary from $25 for a print to $245 for an original dimensional piece.

The show should remain up through October (business needs could displace it sooner) and is viewable during business hours, 8 a.m.-5 p.m. weekdays.

While Reid envisions holding a related art show about twice a year, Tiny Hey’s postcard-writing component will happen monthly.

Here’s how it works: Each month, a different business will host a mailbox — yes, east-side businesses, too. A display next to the mailbox holds the blank postcards. After the writer fills it out with something related to the month’s theme, the postcard is dropped in a slot at the top of the mailbox.

This month’s theme is “guts.” Reid provides questions such as these as prompts: “What does courage look like or feel like to you? Who do you know or admire with guts? What brave act do you dream of doing?”

Later, Reid will share the postcards at tinyhey.com.

“There’s also a subtle invitation on the site for people to supply me with their snail mail address if they want me to mail them a card,” Reid said.

Identities are kept anonymous, and if someone mistakenly signs their card, she’ll strike out the name with a Sharpie before posting.

“I want people to feel liberated to express themselves honestly without worrying that this is a small town and someone might know them,” she said.

Similar anonymous letter exchanges exist, said Reid, who offers as an example Oregon Humanities’ “Dear Stranger” letter-writing exchange. Three times a year, “they have a theme … and you can write a long letter to that theme and send it to them and then they do all the distribution,” Reid said.

But Reid wanted to size Tiny Hey to accommodate today’s shrunken attention spans.

“I didn’t want people to think, ‘That’s not for me. I cannot sit down and write a letter to someone.’ I wanted people to think, ‘Oh, I can fill up that whole box; I can tell a good story for two seconds,’ and for it to feel really approachable.”

The mailbox, made by Jacob Schumacher, will be on hand at tonight’s opening. On Saturday morning, Reid will move it to Lone Pine Coffee Roasters for the rest of October. Next month’s mailbox location is still up in the air, and Reid encourages businesses or organizations interested in being a mailbox host to contact her at tinyheyproject@gmail.com .

“I guess I can’t claim that this will revive the lost art of letter writing. But I think something different happens when you do put a pen to paper, versus when you just bang out a status update,” Reid said. “I think you do have to slow down to tell a good story.”

Long term, “I hope that people embrace it. I hope we get some letters. I hope that it just gets people thinking about what’s going on in the lives of people around them.”

— Reporter: 541-383-0349, djasper@bendbulletin.com