One day while visiting a park with her family, Artist Belinda Pratt came across a Little Free Library that offered complimentary books to all of those who needed them and, if they chose to, people could leave their own books in exchange for the book they took.. “I searched the box for art books,” said this Brooksville resident. “And it gave me an idea; why not have these boxes for art supplies?”
Pratt approached the Hernando County Fine Arts Council about the idea, who greeted the concept with a hearty approval. Council Office Administrator Mike Nolen helped her find abandoned plastic newspaper boxes to decorate and morph into Little Free Art Boxes. The first of which was emblazoned with broad strokes of red paint with black stripes. Written in gold are the words,”Stop in the name of art!” Across the front of the box reads, “Little Free Art Box. Take Some, Leave Some. Supplies, Art Books, And Even Art!”
“I loved the idea of reusable art,” said Pratt, proprietor of a home art studio. “I spray painted the sides. Then I let the arts council do their thing, reaching out to people to see who would like to host a box.” Her first Little Free Art Box is housed inside the West Hernando Branch Library, 6335 Blackbird Avenue., Spring Hill, and currently boasts plentiful donations of paints, art books, crayons, markers, supplies baskets, colored pencils, craft supplies, and more.
“Some people even leave little works of art in the box! We get everything from markers to excellent quality oil paints. We get a good mix,” said Pratt.
The Hernando Fine Arts Council has announced its great approval of the Free Art Box concept. “We love this Little Free Art Box, Belinda Pratt’s new take on those Little Free Libraries for book sharing,” said Beth Putnam, chairperson of the Hernando County Fine Arts Council. “Belinda is amazing and this idea is greatly needed.”
Pratt’s second decorated box is posted at the Silver Dolphin restaurant, 4043 Shoal Line Blvd., in Hernando Beach. She has more boxes in-progress and they are scheduled to be placed at the Ridge Manor Community Center, the Rusted Jade Art Collective, and the Greenhouse on Main in Brooksville.
One of Pratt’s completed boxes likens a brightly decorated house, adorned with rainbow colors. “It was once a box that offered real estate guides,” she said with a chuckle. Both the vibrant colors and the reusable materials found in these boxes are very much in line with the theme and spirit of Pratt’s artistic style.”I love mixed media and abstract art,” she said. “I create art with anything I can get my hands on.”
An art enthusiast since high school, Pratt has exhibited her art in galleries from Arizona to Ft. Lauderdale. She specializes in everything from photography to murals to sculptures. And her latest artwork, the Little Free Art Boxes, may be considered a masterpiece by artists in this area. “When you become an artist, the high cost of art materials is just a given,” she said. “I created this box to share. I wanted to help other artists.”
To support the Little Free Art Box effort, Pratt and the Hernando County Arts Council requests donations of paints, colored pencils, clay for sculpting, 8X10 or smaller canvas boards, craft supplies, sketchbooks, art books (how-to books, fine art books, textbooks), etc. The supplies are for all ages and should be in usable condition. Box size is limited. Please visit the West Hernando Library or The Silver Dolphin restaurant to place donations in the box.