Column – “Creative Space” on Claycord – The Art Cottage

January 30, 2014 14:00 pm · 11 comments

Art Cottage Frogard Butler

The Art Cottage

A couple of years ago, Frogard Butler bought this shotgun-style 1920s bungalow with a vision…to turn it in to an art gallery and studio for the Concord community to embrace as our own. She even spells it “aRt Cottage” to emphasize the ‘R’ so it seems even more like our cottage.

This little 2-bedroom house, located just a couple blocks from Todos Santos Plaza, was originally built as a shack where laborers would spend the nights during a fruit harvest. Sometime in the 1940s, a kitchen and extra rooms were added to the back for permanent residency. Frogard has made several upgrades, but kept plenty of the home’s original charm, such as the glass doorknobs, the clawfoot tub, and the bright colors on the walls.

The Art Cottage is full of fun, funky and eclectic style. In warmer months, the front porch is beautifully canopied by a huge wisteria tree. The front yard is full of plants and sculpture, including a ceramic rendition of Frogard’s own head that doubles as the gallery’s suggestion box. The side yard and back yard are set up for classes, and all the furniture inside was either donated or gathered from garage sales. Each and every room in the house is a separate mini-gallery—even the bathroom and kitchen!

Art Cottage kitchen

Every month, a new group show or a new collection of art based on a theme is featured. All the work is for sale, from paintings and sculptures to prints and greeting cards.

Frogard has lived in Pleasant Hill for about forty years and worked as a pre-school director and educator. She is a watercolor artist and ceramicist, and in 2011 she received an Arts Recognition Award from the Arts and Culture Commission of Contra Costa County.

She teaches art classes at the gallery for small groups of children or adults, as well as for people with developmental disabilities. Girl Scout and Boy Scout troops can work with her at the gallery to earn their art merit badges, and she also hosts an after-school program called “Wacky Wednesday” where kids can create to their hearts’ content.

Meiling Liu Van Gogh

I especially enjoyed seeing this oil painting by Meiling Liu, one of the developmentally disabled women who come to paint at the Art Cottage each week. Her work-in-progress is inspired by Van Gogh’s Church at Anvers.

Click here to view more of the pictures I took of the Art Cottage with some of the pieces in the January exhibit, featuring the Lamorinda Arts Alliance.  The February show will feature work from The Glover Group, a guild of painters who studied under California artist, Pam Glover.


Friday, January 31 through February 15 - “The Book of Liz” performances – Onstage Repertory Theater, Martinez

Saturday, February 1 2:45pm – Pops & Broadway concert – Lesher Center for the Arts, Walnut Creek

Saturday, February 1 8:00pm – Mariachi Divas concert – El Campanil Theater, Antioch

Monday, February 3 7:00-9:00pm – Lynn Quinones and Jim Caroompas, singer/songwriters – Armando’s, Martinez

Wednesdays, February 5 through March 26 7:00-8:00pm – Music Therapy class – Centre Concord

Saturday, February 8  and Sunday, February 9 12:00-9:00pm – Make a Valentine – kid’s crafts – Smile Tu, Walnut Creek

Saturday, February 8 2:00-5:00pm – The Glover Group art exhibit reception – The Art Cottage, Concord

Creative Space is a weekly column written by Lisa Fulmer that features local art events and performances, inspiring interviews with creative movers and makers, DIY how-to projects for you and our home, plus fun craft ideas for the whole family. Creative Space will be on every Thursday at 2pm.

As an avid creative junkie living in Concord, Lisa wants to make it easier for our readers to find ways to embrace creativity and celebrate the local people who are making it happen. In addition to her work as a writer and a marketing consultant, Lisa is a mixed media artist and a project designer for the craft industry.

Visit her blog to see more of Lisa’s own creative space.

1 ChrisK January 30, 2014 at 3:33 PM

I wanted to chime in on this subject a bit. Been an artist 40 some years. I believe everyone has imagination. Creativity. Also the ability to express it if they choose.
I have seen people who say they cannot draw a stick man sit there and doodle while on the phone some mind blowing art. It is art. Brain storm. Get a pen and paper and go to town. Of course there is music, sculpting, gardening, you name it, poetry, infinite ways to express yourself, and best of all, no rules.
Art classes are good for learning technics, also being motivated to make art. And learn how to be more creative. looking at clouds, pondering, writing down your dreams when you wake up, thoughts, so many ways to be creative. A wall, and the patterns in it. Feelings. One art teacher had us all draw a tree. Not from a photo. But from thinking. He said ” Imagine you are sitting under a tree. How does it feel? The wind in the leaves? Birds? The feel of the bark? And so on. Smells. Now draw your tree..” Only one possible way to express yourself in a creative way.
Another teacher once said ” do not worry about your lines. If they are shakey. Not strait. Think more about what you are drawing, because there really is no strait lines in nature. Even in buildings your lines can curve etc. So if you are not a master at drawing say a strait line, no worries. Draw away. You may be very surprised what you come up with. Or maybe not. Don’t be afraid to fail. As an artist, semi professional at times in my life maybe, I failed more than half the time. Pretty goo for a baseball player. But you will gain skill, learn, and then there are happy mistakes as one woman I knew put it. You never know.
Get a canvas and brushes and go to town. Of course there are many tricks. And levels of art, from throwing painting on a canvas to fine oil painting. But again, you could make a masterpiece with very little skill or equipment. You never know.
Art, imo and also could even be said a fact, has many benefits to our health, and society. So much history is in art. Music. War scenes. Events. Knowledge. Passed down in art. Of all that was, what remains and we treasure most? architecture of course. written word. But art. Art in all it’s forms teaches us of the past and brings to life peoples thoughts, dreams, and spirit. Don’t be afraid to express yourself in art. Or fear people will not accept it. Like it. You may surprise yourself!
I love art. I need art. I feel I am creative. But I also feel we all are, or can be. I have many tricks, discover your own tricks. One trick I began to use in the 80’s was bending every strait line and straitning every curved line in a photo or scene. It is kind of neat what turns out. Also colors. I love black and white as well, but colors. But red behind blue and see what happens. Then bring a bit of the colors before another color into the next one, if that makes sense. So a green tree will bleed a bit into a building. A photo may not catch it, but the eye , mind does, and you can capture that on canvas the way no camera can. IMO.
I cold go on. But I would suggest, as for being creative goes, is find a good wall or pattern on a floor and stair. Find a face. Find a shape. And then cut a square paper and tape it around it. Or photograph it. A tree bark pattern. And so on.. We all see things different. Now bring it on paper. Work with it. Bring it to life. Just one of infinite ways to be creative or look at things a bit differently, which I believe was all do sometimes anyway.
Just remember one thing. There are no rules in art. None. Only opinions, technics. Styles maybe. genres? But no rules. You can do anything you want. On paper or canvas. And the possibilities are endless….. Just my take on art….

2 Dorothy Englund January 30, 2014 at 4:00 PM

You are such a talented artist Fro! I will have to come by and visit you. We miss you!

3 Silva January 30, 2014 at 5:06 PM

@ChrisK~You are very obviously a gifted teacher. Thanks for your brilliant message. I also have realized that EVERYBODY can make art. I no longer believe it when I hear someone say that they cannot. They just don’t know it yet.

4 Twila January 30, 2014 at 5:34 PM

Mayor, this is a great addition to your blog. Finally some culture and education.

5 Atticus Thraxx January 30, 2014 at 5:36 PM

Funny how some people have exquisite taste seemingly without effort, while my idea of interior decorating is lotsa maps. For some reason Mrs. Thraxx chose to decorate without my input for the most part.

Free Connie Dobbs

6 itsme January 30, 2014 at 5:56 PM

The aRt Cottage is a splendid place! Fro is so warm and personable and funny! I’ve been to several of the artist’s receptions, met and spoke to the artists and learned so much. I have actually had some work displayed in the gallery. Love this place! Go by and see for yourself …. and don’t forget to introduce yourself to Fro, she is wonderful!

7 catzmama January 30, 2014 at 10:18 PM

Fro graciously accepts art supplies and miscellaneous stuff like calendars and paper towel/toilet tissue cardboards. I have donated lots of art supplies that I wasn’t using and Fro seemed delighted to have them. :-)

8 Joy Montgomery January 30, 2014 at 10:39 PM

It reminds me of the 4th Street Studio that used to be in downtown Livermore. The woman who founded that and had readings along with the art moved away.

9 ChrisK January 31, 2014 at 4:54 AM

@ Silva, I have taught art, not currently though. Creativity has always came easy to me. Even hard to turn it off sometimes. But I so agree with you. Everyone can make art. And we often miss out on so much from those who either do not, or do not show their work. I try to separate creativity from technics. Although practicing learning to draw, paint, write, play music… Helps one bring out what they may imagine better. I like to close my eyes and see. Images. Then draw them. Even rough drawings of what I saw. Images can change fast in your mind, and sometimes it is hard to capture what you see, imagine. Or write down thoughts…
Keeping a journal or paper and pen with you is a good way. A voice recorder. You can suddenly even be overwhelmed with ideas.
In quantity will come quality. This brain storming is a good way to throw down a bunch of ideas and maybe see something you like, and work on it…
I have had a couple practices I like to do. From memory only, draw science you remember. A fun on is draw the characters of a tv show, or cartoon like the Simpson’s from memory only. It can help a person be able to capture a thought, an image they may have thought of in their mind or imagined, and bring it onto paper..
Practice is also key. Shading technics. From cross hatch to strait out shading. A very good exercise is making a rectangle space on paper, and shade from black to white with as flawless a transition as possible as you make your way down. It is not easy for some. A good set of numbered pencils is good to have, and sand paper. You can to the same with an ink pen, or paint… Even colors. Start with maybe blue on top, then transition to green, then yellow then orange, red… all changing to the next color as seamlessly and flawlessly as possible.. A great exercise..,
Even with these exercises you can come up with something.. Ideas..
Practice drawing a perfect circle freehand. Square. Lines. Lines close to lines etc… Art can be a very challenging and fun thing.
Only some ideas and thoughts on art.. But again, no rules really.
Love this Creative space on Claycord. And will be visiting some of the events listed and also peoples art. I love seeing others artwork and like that this is being talked about . Obviously I have a lot to say o the subject, so sorry if I am writing so much. But art is a huge part of my life. I would like to encourage everyone who wants to, to make some art. Open your mind, show yourself in your art, use your imagination, create your styles, what you do will be unique to all others art… I will be having a show coming up soon in Martinez I am hoping to be able to talk about here. But trust me, as an artist, I am often blown away by others art, some who think they are not good even, and what I see. What I could not do. because it is from them. And sometimes I think, why didn’t I think of that, or ” I wish I did that!” Don’t sell yourself short! Go out and make some art!! And show others! It is our loss if you don’t imo….

10 Antler January 31, 2014 at 8:22 AM

ChrisK at #1 and #9. … These are magnificent posts! I hope a great many people have read them and taken them to heart, especially those who are parents. Perhaps some will be motivated to lean on the Board of Education and the Supervisors as well, as the creative arts not only allow ones soul to express….but they actually shape the soul and the mind into a better place for humanity.

11 Phoenyx January 31, 2014 at 10:29 PM

I really need to get to aRt Cottage. Spoke with Tavee,am friend of Fro’s the other day when at Gallery 621, and the more I delve, the more I find other artists I’ve written articles about who have had their art on exhibit at the cottage.

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