Sidewalk Art Swap encourages art in the community

Photo submitted - A Sidewalk Art Swap box was recently installed outside of the ECCOTA gallery in Ridgway. Residents are encourages to swap their artwork and share spare supplies with one another as part of the project. Photo submitted - Inside the Sidewalk Art Swap box are various art supplies, inspiration pieces, and more in an effort to encourage art engagement in the community. The project was introduced this week by ECCOTA.
Staff Writer

RIDGWAY - A new, free Sidewalk Art Swap is providing a place for the public of all ages to exchange artwork, supplies, and inspiration.
The project was introduced by the Elk County Council on the Arts (ECCOTA) as their newest effort to bring art engagement to the community. The installation is setup in a white box outside of the gallery, located at 237 Main Street in Ridgway.
“For years I have had this idea brewing, inspired by the Little Libraries that have become so popular” said Sara Frank, ECCOTA’s executive director, “I thought it would be so fun to have a place where everyone could swap their artwork and share spare supplies with one another – free and contactless. There will be new little surprises in there every day as people share, and as the collection grows.”
With the restrictions that COVID-19 has put on the organization’s classes, youth programming, and in-person interaction, Sara thought it was the perfect time to jumpstart this idea again and put the art swap box in place.
“I wasn’t sure if I wanted to purchase or build a box that looked like a Little Library, or have something that the community could help design. With a little research I found a company in Harrisburg that saves old newspaper dispensers from going in the landfill. It’s just a father and daughter duo that clean them up and resell them to be used as Little Libraries, pantries, you name it. It seemed like our best option because it’s waterproof, heavy, easy to open, and doesn’t look out of place.”
The newspaper dispenser box was painted with a simple white finish, adorned with vinyl lettering, a custom shelf, and legs to give it a more accessible height.
The first Sidewalk Art Swap kicked off on Monday afternoon. The box is situated just outside the gallery windows and started out with contents of a few books, new canvas boards, drawing paper, ACEO's (small artists trading cards), friendship bracelet kits, washi tape, and some project trials and fun things which ECCOTA had been accumulating. Already a sculpture piece was left inside the box much to the delight of ECCOTA staff.