By: Joanie Cox-Henry Contributing Writer
Boca Raton-based artist Peggie “Batia” Lowenberg was honored when she was asked to create a “Snow White and The Seven Dwarfs”-themed playhouse for “Summer in Paradise.” As part of the City of West Palm Beach’s campaign with Habitat for Humanity of Palm Beach County, 15 child-sized playhouses were created to shed a spotlight on affordable housing for low to very low-income families.
“Beauty and the Beast” from France, “Pinocchio” from Italy, “The Little Mermaid” from Denmark, “The Frog Princess” from Poland, “Jack and the Beanstalk” from England and “Aladdin and the Wonderful Lamp” from Asia were among the group of playhouses designed for the display on the West Palm Beach waterfront at 101 N. Clematis St.
The houses will be available for viewing through July 26 and then they will be auctioned off for charity to benefit each of the nonprofits they are paired with. Each artist was matched with a different local nonprofit organization for every playhouse designed.
“Being a part of this was truly a wonderful experience,” said Lowenberg, who was partnered with Palm Beach Habilitation Center, an organization providing services to adults with developmental, emotional and physical disabilities while providing job training, employment opportunities, residential services, recreational experiences, retirement services and more.
The innovative artist collaborated with those enrolled at Palm Beach Habilitation Center and they created mini portraits to decorate the Snow White playhouse.
“Our client artists were so honored and excited to have their artwork included on the Snow White playhouse,” said Palm Beach Habilitation Center Art Instructor Rebeka Burns. “Batia came up with the idea to incorporate their work at our very first meeting, offering the kind of meaningful connection to the wider community that is at the core of our mission at the Palm Beach Habilitation Center. Batia’s playful creativity inspired our clients and truly created a spirit of community around the playhouse project.”
Originally planning to hang the portraits inside the playhouse, Lowenberg ultimately decided to hang them on the outside of the house instead because they turned out so outstanding. “One of the artists made one of the dwarfs female which was a wonderful touch,” Lowenberg added. “I painted a secret garden on the ceiling of the house and it’s been wonderful watching children run in and out of the playhouses smiling.”
Lowenberg also went with the sub-theme “Snow White Remodeled” because she was in awe of the idea of this beautiful young maiden coming to live in a house in the woods with seven worker dwarfs. “We definitely added a feminine touch to the fairytale. There are real plants inside the house,” Lowenberg said. “We were very fortunately to collaborate with Home Depot on Glades Road in West Boca. When I went in there looking for paint for the house, the manager was so excited about what we were doing she gave us a 20 percent discount. Home Depot also happens to be an employer and supporter of Palm Beach Habilitation Center.”
Although Lowenberg originally submitted sketches to design playhouses for “Cinderella” or “Jack and The Bean Stalk,” she was delighted when she received a phone call asking her to design the Snow White house. “I immediately began looking at old Snow White books and what Disney did with the fairytale,” Lowenberg said. “Then I put it together in my own style. The address for the house is #7 and you see a plus one on it for Snow White.”
Lowenberg, who lived in Tel Aviv for nearly 19 years, moved to Boca Raton in 2015 and has been amazed at the cohesiveness of the local art community in South Florida. The accomplished abstract artist who also received a $10,000 grant from Dina Baker Fund, Cultural Council of Palm Beach County and now shares a studio at Arts Warehouse in Delray Beach.
“This project has been wonderful getting to know more people in the community as well as other artists,” Lowenberg said. “There’s a real support for artists in Palm Beach County and it’s wonderful to see how artists can have such an impact on the community.”
For more information, visit wpb.org/events or 561-822-1515.