INDUSTRY CITY, Brooklyn (PIX11) — It used to be that getting your portrait painted was just for well-to-do people. But one Brooklyn portrait painter is trying to change that by offering free portraits for 200 people who would like be part of a celebration of South Brooklyn’s diversity.

“The point of the Free Portrait Project is to encourage neighbors to say hello to one another,” said Rusty Zimmerman, the creator of the Free Portrait Project.

Zimmerman is so much more than a portrait painter. Through his free portrait project, he is hoping to get the 200 subjects of his portraits engaged in conversations with one another and their neighbors.

Zimmerman hands out flyers in 11 different languages, hoping to get people to sit for free portraits that they can eventually take home, as he records their oral histories. They will ultimately all meet when their portraits are on display.

“Everyone can look around the room and see that portrait, that person, and then they can listen to their story on their own phone through the QR code,” Zimmerman said.

Zimmerman chooses his subjects through a lottery. Everyone who lives south of Prospect Park can apply.

Michael James, of Sunset Park, saw the flyer and became the 12th person to have his portrait painted in the year-long project.

“I enjoy the arts of New York City, and when I see opportunities I jump on them,” said James, a marketing consultant. “This was in my neighborhood and seemed like a good cause.”

The portrait painter is in a year-long residency at Industry City.

“Rusty’s all about community and connecting people with others, and that’s what we do here at [Industry City],” said Jim Somoza, Industry City’s manager/director.

If you would like to find out more, go to the Free Portrait Project website.