Meaningful, fitting pieces of art created for New Brighton library
Dedication event was Nov. 29
The library in New Brighton is transforming into a cultural space, thanks to two local artists and funds through community partnerships.
The Friends of the Ramsey County Libraries hosted a reception on Nov. 29 to dedicate two pieces of art.
The Ramsey County Library opened in the New Brighton Community Center on Oct. 29, 2011.
“We are so excited to dedicate two wonderful pieces of community art that really add to the cultural experience of people using this library,” said Sue Gehrz, executive director of the Friends of the Ramsey County Libraries (RCL).
She said Friends of RCL, which has a very active board of directors, spearheads fundraising efforts for the seven county libraries.
Artist Caprice Glaser created “Library Branch,” a two-piece work of art featuring a tree frog. The art piece made of wood with acrylic paint on a wall in the children’s area illustrates a frog that is relaxing in a tree while reading a book about trees. Nearby is a frog on a swing that is reinforced and made of Styrofoam, hanging from the ceiling. “Library Branch” was funded by a donation from HealthPartners.
“I feel like this section of the library is all about being very young, making impressions on children and starting your life with the right kind of input, and I guess that’s where my mother came in for me,” Glaser said.
She said her mother was a Disney animator, made puppet shows and read books.
“If something that I’ve created here leaves a lasting impression of how friendly the library was, or that the books were more fun in the environment that I created, it makes my heart sing, to tell you the truth.”
Glaser said she drew inspiration from the library’s colors and furnishings and thought about bringing the outdoors in.
“I feel like cartooning is something inside of me, not something that I had to learn.”
Regarding artwork in libraries, Glaser said, “It’s special, it helps children grow in different directions, and imagination at this young age is the most valuable creative tool, I think, children possess.”
Local conceptual artist Harriet Bart created the bronze piece titled “EX LIBRIS: Cadence” that is affixed to the wall above the library service desk. Bell Lumber and Pole, located in New Brighton, provided the donation that funded the artwork.
Susan Nemitz, RCL director, said library staff talked about having an impact piece that really left an impression when you walk into the library, which she thinks has really been achieved.
Bart said she grew up going to libraries, and books were important at home.
“I would be lost without books. I would be lost without the writers and poets, because everything I do comes from something that I’ve read in a book,” she said.
“I’m a big believer in the idea of transformation, and sometimes I say that I think of my work as a kind of alchemy.
“When I talk about transformation of a book, I’m talking about the ability to change information into wisdom, and I think that’s a goal that each of us has in our life,” Bart said.
She said her piece of art illustrates spines of books that are lined up, adding that books have a kind of rhythm and speak a kind of language.
The artwork has a certain rhythm and a cadence, and it was decided it needed a little more emphasis, so an exclamation point was added.
“I wanted something for this library and for this community that speaks to time, and timelessness, and even a certain nobility,” Bart said.
Bev Aplikowski, vice chair of the Ramsey County Library Board, said, “This has really turned out to be a very, very nice library,” describing it as very friendly, open and comfortable.
“It (the commissioned artwork) turned out so well, and we’re looking to do something like this in some of the other libraries,” she said.
New Brighton Mayor Dave Jacobsen acknowledged the Capital Campaign Committee, which raised $97,000 for amenities in the library.
“[The amount of funds raised] says a whole lot about our community, and the library just keeps getting better. … It’s a pleasure to be a part of this, and it is a fantastic library.”
The New Brighton Capital Campaign, which closes Dec. 31, continues to seek donations. Gehrz said an anonymous donor will match up to $700 to be used for additional amenities in the New Brighton library. Toward the end of the art dedication on Nov. 29, $715 had been raised.
Donations toward the capital campaign can be made online by going to rclreads.org and clicking on “Friends of the Ramsey County Libraries,” or by mail to Friends of the Ramsey County Libraries, 4570 N. Victoria St., Shoreview, MN 55126. Make checks out to “Friends of RCL” and write “New Brighton” in the memo line.