Free Little Art Gallery opens at Cathy Hudgins Community Center

A Free Little Art Gallery has been installed at the Hudgins Community Center (courtesy Public Art Reston)

In a twist to the free little libraries concept, a new Free Little Art Gallery (FLAG) is open for all at the Cathy Hudgins Community Center (CHCC) at Southgate in Reston.

Modeled after give-a-book, take-a-book approach of Free Little Libraries, the galleries feature art contributed by community members that can be taken. The structure is composed of a miniature cabinet on stands. It’s the first FLAG gifted by a civic organization.

Christine Hodgson, director of CHCCS, said the project serves the center’s goal of creating a welcoming, inclusive environment.

“We believe in empowering our community and our hope is that this FLAG will provide an opportunity for our community members to connect and engage with their inner artist, the center, and the community,” she said.

Reston-based nonprofit organization Public Art Reston and Reston Association are responsible for the oversight of the FLAG. Public Art Reston will share photos of the community’s artwork on Instagram.

The FLAG concept kicked off when artist Stacy Milrany built and installed a library in December 2020 in Seattle, Washington. The project is intended to foster cultural enrichment.

Reston’s first FLAG was installed in December 2021 at the Waterview Cluster. Resident Sue Johnson, who led that effort, promoted the project at Public Art Reston activity tables.

Public Art Reston board member Amanda Scarangella offered financial support for the project through another nonprofit organization where she volunteers.

She built the mini gallery with her partner John Dean.

‘The FLAG will serve as a beacon of public art inspiring artists of all ages and skill levels to engage with their fellow community members in a positive manner,” Scarangella wrote in a statement. “The FLAG will create a safe, accessible, and equitable space for all to enjoy the benefits — educational, social, developmental, community-building, and more — of public art.”

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