Roxbury opens "Doors" to artists

By Julia Green
Part-time Roxbury resident Herrat Sommerhoff sees the value in recycled materials. As an artist, Sommerhoff has exhibited in the United States and in Europe artwork created from recycled materials. As a local CROP teacher, she uses all recycled materials. And her latest project takes recycling to a new place altogether: doors.
“I had been picking up doors for awhile, because some have very interesting patterns and I thought, ‘I’m going to paint these,’” Sommerhoff said. “And when I talked to The Roxbury Arts Group and said, ‘Why don’t you have an exhibition?’ and they suggested it be outdoors, and that’s how we arrived at this.”
“This” is the Doors of Roxbury project, which was Sommerhoff’s creation and has recruited talent from local artists to design old doors for display along Main Street in Roxbury.
“I often felt that it might be a good idea to have some outdoor artwork in Roxbury,” said Sommerhoff, who attended The Art Students League of New York and serves on the board of the Arts Center of Northern New Jersey, and has been living part time in Roxbury for 25 years. “It might attract tourists and just plain curious people to the local restaurants and to the businesses, and the artists in the area might enjoy participating in such a public arts project.”
Those who visited the Pakatakan Farmers’ Market this summer may have even received a sneak preview of the project, as a door already designed as part of the Doors of Roxbury project was on display.
“It took a little while by word of mouth,” Sommerhoff said, “But seeing them at the Farmers’ Market, people approached me and said it sounded like a fun project, so we’re all going forward with it.”
A door designed by Sommerhoff is already on display at the intersection in Roxbury, and she believes as many as five or six have already been completed and could be installed by Labor Day.
The project has been in the works since the end of last year, when Sommerhoff approached The Roxbury Arts Group with the idea, who in turn directed her to Peg Ellsworth of The MARK Project, who wrote a grant application seeking funding. The O’Connor Foundation was also approached, and as funding was secured, artists were recruited.
“These are old doors, recycled doors,” said Sommerhoff. “They could be barn doors or shed doors or old house doors… they had to be solid to withstand the elements, because we hope that this will be up for quite awhile.”
Doors are being decorated two-dimensionally, using just paint, and three-dimensionally, using other materials. Organizers hope to have a number of the doors installed by Labor Day weekend in the strip along the parking lot at the Roxbury Health Center; completed installation and a reception are tentatively planned for Columbus Day weekend.
Margaretville resident Nat Thomas, who has also been involved with the planning of the project, will also be in charge of the installation of the doors.
“We’ll accept doors through Columbus Day,” Sommerhoff said. “And anybody who is interested in the project can approach us and we will rotate doors in and out, depending on what comes in.”