Newton gallery opens 'Rosie's Art House'

Chad Frey
The Kansan

Dozens of "Little Free Libraries" and "Blessings Boxes" have popped up in Newton in recent years — with all of those serving the purpose of either sharing reading material with the community or food for those who need it. 

The  Carriage Factory Gallery  dedicated it's own version of a little free library on Aug. 21. The dual-box library will contain a small art gallery and art supplies. For more photos by Michele Clark from the dedication, visit thekansan.com.

The concept is not really new — but how it has been taken to heart by the Carriage Factory Gallery is. The gallery dedicated it's own version of a little free library on Aug. 21, and the stand in Krehbiel park is unique for not only the size (it's about double the size of most blessing boxes or little libraries — with two distinct doors and storage areas.)

"The idea of a community art box has been stewing for a while," said Mary Lee McDonald, director of the gallery. "I had not ever seen anyone do anything like this. During the pandemic friends sent me some people to follow. A gal in Seattle who created an outdoor gallery where people can trade art and in Wichita Arthouse 310 has a share box. I presented this to the board." 

The art house has two purposes.  A small works gallery will feature work by a different artist each month. An art supply closet will have free art supplies.

Artists whose work is on display can determine if the small gallery will be open for art trading, or if their art will be on a static display. 

Supplies, which do not need to be new, can be donated at the gallery where volunteers and staff will sort through donations and place items in the box. Aspiring artists can take what they need, free of charge.  

"It is for all ages. It is not just for the wee ones, it is for anyone who we can help on a creative journey," McDonald said. "Anyone who creates from that can post on social media with the hashtag #rosiesarthouse."

The project was dubbed Rosie’s Art House, after Rosalind Andreas, a former board member at the gallery. Andreas died on March 15, 2021 in Newton. 

An educator, Andreas served as a dean in the collegiate setting and was a published author, writing about educator preparation, student leadership programs, institutional planning, and commuter affairs. She was founding chairwoman of the Commission for Commuter Programs in the American College Student Personnel Association and served in leadership positions with the National Association of Student Personnel Administrators. She also served as Chairwoman of the Board of Directors of the Mennonite Education Agency, working with three colleges, two universities, two seminaries, and elementary and secondary schools affiliated with the Mennonite Church USA. 

"Rosie’s Art House" was dedicated Sept. 21.

Andreas retired in 2003, and she and her husband moved back to Kansas in 2012, settling in North Newton. She became an active member of the community, serving on the boards of the Bethel College Mennonite Church, the Kaufman Museum, and the Carriage Factory Art Gallery.

Her life and contributions to the gallery were celebrated Aug. 22 as the art house was dedicated. 

The art house was designed by Aaron Jackson Bowman, built by Dylan McDonald and Doug Lee with a mosaic designed and installed by McDonald.

"My dad and my son had a huge role," McDonald said. "[Bowman} came up with an amazing design. ... The board has been hugely excited and behind this."