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  • Writer's pictureThis Is Rutherford

Free Little Art Gallery - The Elliott

Updated: Apr 27, 2021

By Jennifer Ersalesi

Now, maybe more than ever, many people are seeking ways to express their creativity and become involved in their communities. Rutherford resident, Sarah Orlowicz, has designed and built a place where members of the community can express their artistic sides and explore the art created by others at the Free Little Art Gallery (FLAG), The Elliott. Similar to the Free Little Libraries that have popped up around town, the Free Little Art Gallery, located on Elliott Place between Mortimer Ave and Irving Ave, is a place where children and adults can share, exchange, and display their artwork. This is Rutherford spoke with Sarah about this exciting, new project.

TIR: Where did you get the idea for the Rutherford FLAG (Free Little Art Gallery)- The Elliott?

Sarah Orlowicz: A friend shared an article from the Seattle Times about Stacy Milrany, a resident who had created a FLAG, and I just thought it was the coolest concept! This was in February, and the idea just took over my thoughts and a lot of my free time.

TIR: What do you hope to accomplish with this gallery?

SO: A smile during tough times is enough, for sure. But if the gallery could inspire people in any way… maybe to create, to look and appreciate and collect... I think it will have done its job. I’ve always been an artist of sorts, but we all get into slumps, let our supplies get dusty in a closet, and have doubts about our abilities. I’d love for the gallery to be an inspiration for people to break out of that lull and start creating again. Also, maybe it can be a way to get an artist's name out there. Anyone should feel free to attach a business card, or information about an Etsy page, or social media account to their work, but I also want to encourage those who may not have ever had an art practice. Want to be anonymous? That’s fine, too! I believe we’re all artists in some way, and can start at any age. Speaking of age, I totally encourage kids to contribute to the gallery too!! The painted rock garden already seems to be a hit, but any medium that fits the space is welcome. I would love to see some poetry, handmade zines, and maybe even CDs (who uses those any more?) of original music. We’ve already seen paintings, collage, mini sculpture, and even jewelry come through.

TIR: On May 2nd, there will be a Grand Opening/ Open House. What can people expect to see that day?

SO: From 12-4 pm on May 2nd, the gallery will be open for viewing and exchange, and we will also have a temporary clothesline to hang art if the gallery overflows. There will be a few raffles to raise money for the Rutherford Arts Council. Three prizes have already been donated, but more are welcome… Please reach out! We’ll also welcome performing artists of any kind/ability to do a mini-performance (sing, play, dance, recite). There will be chalk drawing on the sidewalks, and I may have another idea or two up my sleeve that I’m still trying to figure out. This is all outside, of course, but please wear your masks!

TIR: How can people get involved in the Rutherford FLAG- The Elliott?

SO: It’s as simple as taking a walk or drive over to Elliott Place between Mortimer and Irving. Like the sign says, take a piece, leave a piece, or just take a look. Also, spread the word and share your pics and experience on Instagram and Facebook!

TIR: Did anyone else assist you with this project?

SO: The actual building of the gallery took some trial and error, but I wanted to do it myself. I consider myself pretty handy and have always helped my dad with projects around the house, but never really built anything like this. I had some wood from an old CD shelf that my sister gave me, so I used that to sketch out a “plan” and just went for it. The siding is made from a friend's old blinds that I took home when I helped her replace them, having no idea at the time what I would use them for. A couple in town gave me the post they were going to use for their little library but ended up not needing it, and another neighbor lent me the post digger and cement mixer attachment for my drill. My brother-in-law came to help me dig and pour the cement. And I can’t leave out my wife… she put up with my obsession of building and tweaking and fixing and buying little parts for three months, and then made the decal for the bin and power washed and painted the post. I designed the logo myself; being a graphic designer is what I decided to concentrate on back in art school when I realized I would someday need to support myself financially.

TIR: What are your future goals for this space?

SO: I hope it’s here for a long time, I hope I get to meet some cool artists when they come to visit. I hope it inspires creativity, and I hope it brings happiness to people like it’s brought happiness to me. In my eyes, those would be grand accomplishments!

To everyone… Please don’t be shy!!! Take home a piece if you like it. Leave a shelf empty for a while so someone else feels comfortable adding something! Rearrange the gallery to your liking, just for fun! Let it be YOUR little art gallery.

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