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Danae Moore-Downing and her Free Little Art Gallery

"It's hard to put into words the amazingness of Danae!” First, it’s her beauty and effervescence... the second thing you notice about Danae Moore-Downing is her voice--it's filled with sweet melodious tones that hint at her personality. Then you’re struck by her poise and grace, even more extraordinary considering she’s a single mother of a spirited 5-year-old son.

I met Danae when I moved into my Maple Leaf neighborhood and within 30 seconds, I knew I wanted to be her friend. “It’s hard to put into words the amazingness of Danae!” our mutual friend Stefanie Reddy told me. “I always describe her as one of the best human beings I know. You just feel like you will be OK when Danae is around.”

She recently joined my book club and her quiet dignity was initially mistaken for shyness by another member who burst out laughing when Danae piped up with a brilliant rebuke of our book that month. “And here I thought you were so timid and reserved!”

Danae has added class to our neighborhood in another important way: by designing and installing “the smallest and free-est art gallery in Maple Leaf.” A Free Little Art Gallery — “FLAG” for short — is like a Little Free Library, but for small artworks instead of books. If you see something in the gallery you like, you can take it home- or you can create art and leave it for someone else to take home. The Free Little Art Gallery acts as a miniature gallery where artists of all ages and skill levels can contribute their artwork for others to enjoy. By establishing this space, Danae has nurtured an environment where art is accessible to everyone. In fact, she painted a rock that says “you are an artist”- and she believes that about everyone.

“Growing up with Danae, I remember doodling in a notebook mindlessly and looking over at my sister doing the same thing --except her doodles looked like amazing print patterns and designs! It was no surprise when she grew up to get her Masters in Fine Arts and still finds peace and joy in art. She really loves this community (she even convinced us to move here!) and when she heard about FLAGs (Free Little Art Galleries) it was a great fit,” says her sister Molly Moore.

Her home is a sanctuary where art is celebrated everywhere. Walk into Danae's house and you'll be greeted by vibrant images on the walls and evidence of countless art projects that have taken shape under her guidance—in fact, even the “chore & behavior charts” are whimsical and beautiful enough to be framed. Beyond her artistic endeavors, Danae's creativity spills over into her role as a parent, where she instills an appreciation for imagination and self-expression in her son Conor.

Recently she came up with a great plan to engage Conor in her art making process: she asks him what she should draw each day. That’s why she now has a whole notebook filled with “Flying Butts.”

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