She is literally both a sweetheart, and the green lady of Brooklyn.
Elizabeth Sweetheart, 77, is an artist that loves all things green, from her clothes, to her furniture, and even her hair.
Known as the Green Lady of Brooklyn, she is a fixture on the local art and fashion scene, and has also become viral on social media due to her singular color choice.
Married for 51 years to Robert Rosenthal, this Carroll Gardens resident has been wearing the vivid color for two decades, but only became famous for it in the past 10 years.
Prior to this obsession with color, Sweetheart favored vintage print dresses and hats embellished with flowers. She was born and raised in Nova Scotia, and hitchhiked her way to New York City in 1964 to realize her dream of being an artist.
As an artist who enjoys colors, and makes tiny, finely painted watercolors and started working in the garment center. That started a 50-year career in the fashion and design industry, where she created hand painted prints and worked alongside the likes of Michael Kors, Liz Claiborne, Calvin Klein, Ralph Lauren, and Sarah Ferguson, Duchess of York.
Rosenthal and Sweetheart met in 1965 after being introduced by a mutual friend. They married in 1967, and moved into their current home around 1980.
Their four-story house is home to Rosenthal, Sweetheart, and their rescue dog Gigi, as well as their son Sam Eaton, a mentalist and magician of the show Quantum Eye, and his wife Mimi. The property has a full garden with bright flowers, fig trees, and various other beautiful plants.
But why this particular color though? Sweetheart does not offer any specific answer, but she stresses that “Green is absolute positivity, very happy. It’s always refreshing, even on a rainy day.”
Rosenthal noted that the transition was actually quite gradual. According to Sweetheart, “It’s not instant. It’s something you do over a period of time. It began with green accents. I’d mix green into my nail polish, and put green streaks in my hair.”
She added, “It just evolved. I’ve always been into color because I’m an artist and I had a design studio and it was just a lot of fun doing all the colors and prints.” The transformation became final when Sweetheart eventually dyed her hair into the fascinating shade it is today.
And it’s not just any kind of green. Sweetheart has a very specific preference – she dislikes aqua or too much blue in the color. As a result, she dyes all her clothes to make sure that they follow her distinct color choice. It also ensures that she stands out, even at a mere 4’11”, wherever she goes.
Understandably, Sweetheart gets quite a reaction, particularly from children, whenever she goes out. “I noticed that the children responded to the green. They’d give me little, timid waves. Oh, I love children. Little, happy people. And they love green. They’re drawn to it. ”
She said further, “Children are always bringing me green things, and dropping letters into my mailbox. Sometimes I can’t even read the handwriting, but it makes me so happy. People make me happy.”
Not everything in Sweetheart’s home is green though, despite the fact that she has become an internet sensation for her bright clothes, eyeglass frames, fingernails, make-up, and hair.
Sweetheart said, “Everybody I meet, they say oh you have everything in your house green. But the walls are white, the floors are wood. It’s really not all green.” Despite the abundance of the color, Rosenthal agrees that “It’s not ‘an oppressive green environment.”
Over the years, the color has become even brighter, owing to constant re-dyeing and Sweetheart’s preference for brighter colors. “My eyes like really bright colors… The older I get, the more I like bright colors,” Sweetheart shared.
Rosenthal buys the occasional green piece of clothing, but does not really share his wife’s enthusiasm for the color. “I don’t think I would want to live in a green room.” Rosenthal added, “I’m certainly not going to dress green.”
After becoming a local legend, Sweetheart does not even need to buy anything green anymore. Random strangers began gifting her with items. Even neighbors started leaving green things on their stoop rather than throw them out.
A true artist, Sweetheart continues to work, designing artwork for labels and posters. She also maintains an Instagram account, greenladyofbrooklyn, to record her images as well as those who keep asking her for selfies.
Sweetheart never expected to become famous, but she continues to enjoy the reactions and her experiences with people.
She said, “I’ve never met a negative person. When someone approaches me on the street, I give them a hug, and say something nice. It’s all that I’m looking for. And it’s all that I find. It really makes a big difference in life, not to be closed up. It’s a way of life.”
She concluded with, “Whether you become a doctor, or a lawyer, or a green lady, you’re accomplishing what’s in your heart.”