Thursday, July 18, 2024

Free Little Art Gallery to open in Ottawa

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The first project by the City of Ottawa Arts Committee is complete.

A Free Little Art Gallery and rock garden has been installed in front of 215 W. Main St. A FLAG operates much like the Free Little Library with the intent to promote community involvement, inspire creativity and encourage making and taking of artwork.

In addition to the gallery, a rock garden was installed at the base of the gallery where anyone can take and or leave painted rocks. Rocks often feature uplifting messages and can be found randomly placed or “hidden” around town.

The Ottawa Area Chamber of Commerce conducted a ceremonial ribbon cutting celebrating the creation with Jay McCracken of the chamber saying Ottawa has a tradition of encouraging the arts.

The first artwork donated for the gallery was created by students at Marquette Academy with the help of art teachers Jane Mills at the high school and Randi Paquette at the junior high. Participants in Annette Barr Photography Studio’s City Recreation Urban Photo Safari camp will have small versions of their photographs printed and shared in the gallery. The gallery can be locked, in case an area artist would like to have a show. Mostly it is expected to be open to the community.

Committee member Annette Barr took on this project, coordinating with Scott Eike with the Home Builders Institute at the Sheridan Correctional Center for the construction of the gallery and garden. The city of Ottawa installed it. The men in the HBI program built the gallery, which features bamboo flooring laid in a herringbone pattern along with a baseboard and crown moulding. In addition, solar powered lights and a plexiglass roof allow for enhanced visibility. Benches were built, similar to those found in a gallery. Display items such as pedestals to highlight miniature sculptures and shelving that can be added to or removed from the magnetic walls via magnet strips adhered to the back also were created by program members. Those items are to remain with the gallery for future use.

The gallery is placed in front of Annette Barr Photography Studio to allow Barr to maintain a supply of artwork and painted rocks. New artwork and rocks may be left in the studio mailbox to be photographed and added to the supply. Social media accounts featuring artwork are available on Facebook and Instagram under Free Little Art Gallery – Ottawa, Ill.

Ottawa Mayor Robb Hasty said he is excited to see projects come to fruition from the City of Ottawa Arts Committee and said new murals are in the works to be installed near 229 Estates.

In addition to the Free Little Art Gallery, a rock garden has been installed at the base of the gallery where anyone can take and or leave painted rocks. Rocks often feature uplifting messages and can be found randomly placed or "hidden" around town.

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