Reston celebrates Free Little Art Gallery at Cathy Hudgins Community Center

The FLAG was installed at the center earlier this week (courtesy Myers Public Relations)

A community art exchange confined to a box is now open at the Cathy Hudgins Community Center at Southgate (12125 Pinecrest Road) in Reston.

The project, called a Free Little Art Gallery (FLAG), operates like the more typical Free Little Library model.

Residents can deposit and take art that is displayed on miniature cabinets. The FLAG was installed in December, but Public Art Reston and Reston Association held an official unveiling at the community center on Tuesday (Feb. 14).

The concept was created by artist Stacy Milrany, who installed the first FLAG in December 2020 in Seattle, Washington. Since then, the concept has popped up across the country.

All kinds of art — including books — can be deposited in the box.

Christine Hodgson, director of the community center, said the FLAG will help the center provide a welcoming and inclusive environment where everyone feels a sense of belonging.

“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.” Hodgson wrote in a statement.

The first FLAG in Reston was installed in the Waterview Cluster by resident Sue Johnston in December 2021. The model was borrowed by Public Art Reston at activity tables in community events.

The FLAG at the center is the first in Reston that is installed on public property. It’s supported by funding from a civic organization called Random Acts.

Public Art Reston board member Amanda Scarangella helped push the project forward, building the box with her partner, John Dean.

“Having designed the FLAG, it’s been my honor to work toward fostering a place for future artistic expression,” Scarangella remarked. “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. 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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