Rosie’s Art House honors memory of community servant

Carriage Factory Director Mary Lee-McDonald, center, shows off the new Rosie's Art House in the gallery park, which was unveiled last Saturday in memory of Rosalind Andreas.

By Jared Janzen

NEWTON—The late Rosalind Andreas was known for thinking outside the box. Now, her legacy will help others in the Newton community foster creativity, as well.

Last Saturday, the Carriage Factory Art Gallery, where Andreas served as a board member, unveiled Rosie’s Art House in her memory.

The one-of-a-kind structure has two purposes. One side is for the public to share art supplies—similar to a little free library or blessing box—and the other side is a miniature art gallery.

Andreas’s son, Joel Andreas, said it was a beautiful project.

“It’s so nice to have a long-term memorial for Rosalind here in Newton,” he said. “She would have loved it.”

Joel admired the beautiful yet practical design of the art house.

“I wish I could take a picture of it and send it to her,” he said with a laugh.

He noted that while his mother’s knowledge of art had been limited, she was nonetheless a creative person who wanted to build up the Carriage Factory Art Gallery as an institution.

Rosie’s Art House has a dual purpose. One side has a space for the community to share art supplies, and the other will be a miniature display gallery.

“She was very much into building community,” Joel said. “Something that really builds community like that is really part of her Mennonite tradition, too. Family is very important, but community is very important.”

Rosalind Andreas was a native of Newton whose career in education took her across the country, until she moved back to North Newton in 2012. There she became involved in serving the boards of Bethel College, Bethel College Mennonite Church, Kaufman Museum and the Carriage Factory Art Gallery.

A few of Andreas’s friends offered tributes to her during Saturday’s unveiling ceremony.

Glen Ediger described her as a career trailblazer, a musician, poet, writer, and the first woman dean of students at the University of Arizona. He said he had been so impressed by Andreas’s unique insights while serving alongside her on some of these boards that he had Googled her name.

“I was amazed at her experience and leadership when I discovered it in the academic world,” he said.

Virgil Penner, who said he had known Andreas since high school, emphasized her creativity.

“I found out that most of the things she did were outside of the box—not inside the box,” he said.

The idea for the art house was one that Carriage Factory Art Gallery Director Mary Lee-McDonald came up with several years ago, inspired by the success of little free libraries and blessing boxes. After Andreas’s death on March 15, 2021, they decided to dedicate the project in her memory

“When we lost Rosalind, it became clear that she should be part of the formation of the art house, as she was always supportive with new and creative ideas that continued our mission,” Lee-McDonald said.

The art house was designed by Carriage Factory board member Aaron Jackson Bowman, who said the project designed itself. He described its unique appearance as two boxes that kiss each other to maintain a single architecture.

“As you look at the art house, you may almost get the sense that it has wings,” Bowman added. “While this little house wasn’t initially engineered with Rosalind in mind, I can’t help but pin some kind of symbolism to those wings and our dedication of the art house to her.”

Three generations were involved with the construction of the art house. Lee-McDonald did the mosaic design, while her father, Doug Lee, and son, Dylan McDonald, worked together to build the structure.

McDonald said it had taken them a couple months to make since they hadn’t been able to work on it every day. He added he had learned quite a bit from the process, this being the largest project he’s ever been involved with.

“I enjoyed it quite a bit,” he said.

The art house was strategically placed in the center of the gallery park to draw people in and make it easily visible from different directions.

Lee-McDonald said she hopes the community will be active with the art house, and she encouraged people of all ages to use it. One side of the art house currently showcases works by Mary Johnson. Lee-McDonald added the gallery will rotate new artwork every month or so.

The other side holds the art supplies available for the community to share. Watercolors, canvases, sketchpads, glitter, beads and a variety of other art supplies were in the art house as of Saturday.

“It’ll just change all the time,” Lee-McDonald said.

Those wishing to donate supplies should bring them inside to the gallery so staff can make sure it’s something that won’t be spoiled by hot or cold weather, like paint.

For those who create art using supplies in the box, the gallery asks they share a picture on social media using #rosiesarthouse.

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