The house on Mt. Diablo Street between Todos Santos Plaza and Mt. Diablo High School is no regular home. When you find the colorful mailbox, an inviting patio area with art hanging on the walls and a carefully thought-out garden, you'll have run into the aRt Cottage - a two-bedroom, 2238 Mt. Diablo Street house-turned-gallery by Pleasant Hill resident and local artist Frogard Butler.
"I put together the gallery of my dreams," said Butler, who turned each room of the cottage into what she called "mini galleries," where local artists from across Contra Costa County can "... display work, hang out, teach, learn, create ..."
The house was bought by Butler with the intent of transforming it into a private studio where she could paint without suffering through headaches resulting from exposure to fumes released by the oil and paint. When she got the keys in December, however, Butler "... realized all the potential [it held.]"
The idea for the first show came before the house was fixed up and decorated; fourteen local artists were invited to paint directly onto the inside walls with the understanding the work would eventually be painted over, just in time for the next show.
"We had a really good time, but it was so hard to paint over everything," said Butler. "I took that roller, looked away, then painted over," she demonstrated while raising a hand to cover her eyes.
Butler made the decision to not charge hanging fees for artists to display their work in the cottage until next year. If any of the art work is sold, she welcomes any donations from the artists, but to get things going, she said, they don't have to share any profits.
More than Just a Gallery
"Showing [work] is just a piece of it," said Butler, who also teaches children's art classes and invites local residents to bring lunch boxes when stopping by the aRt Cottage.
"... that's really what the 'R' stands for," said Butler. "... a place that's 'ours;' for artists and community too."
The all-inclusive vibe also extends to four-legged art fans, since the cottage is dog-friendly.
Color and Steel
Opening Thursday, June 7, from 4 to 8 p.m. is Color and Steel Merge, a show featuring the expressionistic watercolor and acrylic paintings of Nancy Robinson of Martinez, alongside the stainless steel sculptures of Kurt Vorheis of Pleasant Hill.
The work is creatively placed throughout each uniquely colored room of the cottage, where visitors and potential buyers are invited to enjoy the scenery while nibbling cheese and sipping wine made by Vorheis himself.
Have you been to aRt Cottage yet? What do you think of the concept and what Butler has put together? Tell us in the comments.