Washington Evening Journal
111 North Marion Avenue
Washington, IA 52353
WASHINGTON — A Washington woman has started a campaign to inspire generosity by leaving works of art around town for strangers to find.
“Essentially it’s just to make somebody feel lucky or like they are special,” said Paige Flotterud, owner of Painting Paige, a Washington business that opened in May. “I did my first one last week, and people have just really flocked to the idea of it.”
Flotterud said the idea was inspired by an anonymous card she received in the mail. While she declined to be any more specific, she said the random act of kindness inspired her to “pay it forward” to others in the community.
“I feel like the whole reason that I make my art is not necessarily for a business purpose,” she said. “The reason I make art is to make people happy when they see it. And I can’t think of a better way to make people happy when they see it than to find something special they weren’t expecting.”
To decide what art she leaves out and when, Flotterud said the process was more or less random, based on whatever she wants to do on a given day.
“I don’t really have a rhyme or reason to it, I think that’s kind of the beauty of it,” she said. “If I made something last night that I’m excited to give to somebody, I’ll do that. If I feel like I’ve got something in my collection that I want to give, I’ll do that. But I make a lot of art … I don’t want to horde it in my studio, I don’t see the point of that.”
So far, Flotterud has dropped three of her works around town: a drawing, a sweatshirt and a painting on canvas.
Every time, she makes a Facebook post with a hint about where she left the item. Thus far, they’ve disappeared in a matter of minutes according to people who found them, or in some cases, people who messaged her after the item was gone.
“I put a card on it, and I try to make it visible so they’re not like, ‘Oh no, did somebody lose this,’” Flotterud said. “It says, ‘To whoever finds this,’ and then they can open it and read it.”
Flotterud makes her art almost every night after putting her two children — both under 2 years old — to sleep. She said the kindness campaign gave her a way to lift up the community without hindering her other obligations.
“I don’t have a lot of time but I like to be involved in things in the community that (are) bigger than myself,” she said. “This is a way that I don’t have to give up hours of my time, but I can still make a big impact that anyone can benefit from.”
The artist said she planned to continue the random acts of kindness for the foreseeable future.
“I plan to keep doing this as long as I can … as long as I live in Washington, which, I’m going to be here for a long time,” she said. “My hope is it will kind of catch on to other people if they want to like, add to the kindness, make the gifts larger, or every once in a while do things from other businesses. My hope is that this grows into a kindness project.”
Washington resident Janelle Schark was lucky enough to pick up Flotterud’s piece on Tuesday, after it was left in bushes near the post office.
“I had just clocked out for lunch and I saw her live video come up,” Schark said. “I hurried over to where she hid it … and I pulled up with the biggest smile on my face because it was still there.”
Schark said she was impressed by Flotterud’s community efforts.
“In today’s world, we just don’t know what people are struggling with, and the simplest things can put a smile on someone’s face,” she said. “She has a big heart and our community is very lucky to have her for sure.”