Art Garage vandalism brings support

by Walt Maguire
Posted 8/18/21

When Arleen Olshan arrived at the Mt. Airy Art Garage to open last Sunday, she discovered the Pride and Black Lives Matter flags had been ripped down from the front of the building. One flag holder was torn out of the wood, and the other held on by one bent screw. The flags were laying on the ground. This followed an incident a few weeks earlier when their BLM flag was stolen.

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Art Garage vandalism brings support

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A flag is sometimes a way to signal for help. In this case, a flag down was the signal.

When Arleen Olshan arrived at the Mt. Airy Art Garage to open last Sunday, she discovered the Pride and Black Lives Matter flags had been ripped down from the front of the building. One flag holder was torn out of the wood, and the other held on by one bent screw. The flags were laying on the ground. This followed an incident a few weeks earlier when their BLM flag was stolen.

Linda Slodki, co-founder and former executive director, posted the incident on NextDoor.com and the offers for assistance started rolling in.

“People offered to put the flags back up,” said Olshan, the gallery’s director. There were offers of security cameras and at least one offer to do the camera wiring for free.

A typical NextDoor comment: “I don't have a ladder but if someone does I will gladly restore the flags. I have the tools and can pick up a new bracket if needed. Say the word, this isn't OK in my neighborhood. (M.R.)”

They don’t know if the incident is connected to their current exhibition, Black Art Matters. Though nothing like this had happened before at their space at 7054 Germantown Ave.

Some of their programs were interrupted by the pandemic, and are just returning. In 2019, they began work on the Community of Pride Mural and Literacy Project with 4th and 5th grade students at the Eleanor C. Emlen Elementary School in Mt. Airy, aimed at learning to draw and paint full-sized murals which have become permanent fixtures at the school. The largest mural is still stretched out on a massive table in the back studio, waiting for the students to complete it. Some of them have now graduated but are still coming back to work on it.

Olshan and Slodki were grateful for the support and from the community. They plan to re-hang the flags, but much higher.

“For all the craziness, NextDoor can be a good thing,” said Olshan. “When we moved in here, one of the people in an apartment next to us posted about how loud we were at night and he couldn’t sleep. We had no idea our air conditioning was making that noise. We got it fixed and reached out to him. He was happy and surprised.” 

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