aRt Cottage a hidden gem in Concord

aRt Cottage a hidden gem in Concord

aRt Cottage a hidden gem in Concord
Sofia and Lulu enjoy a class by FROgard Schmidt at the aRt Cottage. (Photos by John Nakanishi)

CONCORD, CA (Mar. 20, 2022) — Nestled in a quiet neighborhood just blocks from Concord’s Todos Santos Plaza, a cozy art oasis beckons you to visit.

The aRt Cottage, owned and run by FROgard Schmidt in a charming, unassuming cottage, is not your typical art gallery.

The aRt Cottage holds bimonthly exhibits, featuring groups such as the Concord Art Association, Lamorinda Arts Alliance, Las Juntas~East Bay Artists Guild and Contra Costa Plein Air.

But the aRt Cottage is also an active teaching studio, serving art students from 4 to 83 years old. Classes include ceramics, acrylic painting, watercolor, three-dimensional sculpture, drawing and papier-mâché.

Fro has no regular class schedule; instead, she arranges classes and monthly workshops by interest and student/instructor availability. Fro describes her teaching process an emergent curriculum, “where the person emerges and their art emerges. It is their idea and they use their heart, their mind and their hands as a vehicle to get to the finished product. I am only there to cheer them on, answer their questions and help them in the process of making art.”

Her teaching style is certainly working.

Expressing feelings

“I like that when I do art, I express my feelings to others,” says Isla, age 8.

Sofia, age 14, enjoys the “free-flowing” nature of Fro’s classes “It gives me space to be creative in my own specific style.”

A new addition is the Tiny House Gift Shop that offers arts and crafts from local artists. There is also a lending library of art books as well as a free Community Book Box on the street. Surrounding the cottage is a beautiful garden tended by Fro and friends.

Fro first used the aRt Cottage in 2011 as a personal work space for her art. Within a couple months, the bungalow became a regular meeting place for some Diablo Valley College art students who would critique each other’s artwork. With the students’ art on the cottage walls, Fro invited the public to the first cottage exhibit, “On the Wall.”

She worked hard on the little fixer-upper, not just creating a space for art but developing an artist community. Fro states that all the repairs and renovations “became my biggest art project ever.”

Many friends were there to offer advice and support. “It seems like everyone had a part in it, either by making suggestions or bringing me things that I could use for the future,” Fro notes.

All are welcome

As Fro puts it so well, “This is a place where all are welcome to make art, view art and learn about art. After all, it is called aRt Cottage, with the capital R, for a reason. It is not MY Cottage or YOUR Cottage. It is R Cottage.”

I hope you will find the time to visit Concord’s hidden gem of an art gallery.

The aRt Cottage, at 2238 Mt. Diablo St., Concord, is open 11 a.m.-5 p.m. Wednesdays-Saturdays. For more information, call 925-956-3342 or visit

John Nakanishi is an acrylic painter and a ceramic artist. When he isn’t creating art, he coaches competitive soccer. Email comments and suggestions for future columns to

John Nakanishi
John Nakanishi

John Nakanishi is treasurer of The Concord Art Association. He is an acrylic painter and a ceramic artist. When John isn’t creating art, he coaches soccer for East Bay Eclipse, a competitive soccer club based in Moraga. He is also an avid trail runner, enjoying runs from 5 miles to 50K.