Arts and Entertainment

Art enhances culture of libraries

Mark Stevenson and Sarah Ohman, at left, attend a celebration of their cat  sculptures and other art projects at the Marysville Library Thursday, Dec. 11. - SARAH ARNEY Arts & Leisure
Mark Stevenson and Sarah Ohman, at left, attend a celebration of their cat sculptures and other art projects at the Marysville Library Thursday, Dec. 11.
— image credit: SARAH ARNEY Arts & Leisure


With an ongoing art exhibit at the Arlington Library provided by the Arlington Arts Council and several permanent art installations at the Marysville Library, the question is, what is it about art at libraries?

The question was posed by Sno-Isle Libraries Director Jonalyn Woolf-Ivory at a reception for artists at the Marysville Library Dec. 11, honoring six artists who created new works for the library and the Gellerson family whose bequest helped pay for the art along with the Friends of the Marysville Library.

“Art helps us toward our mission to be a center for culture,” Woolf-Ivory said.

A member of the art selection committee, Sue Rasmussen said that art helps make the library feel more friendly and Woolf-Ivory agreed.

“I’ve already seen people petting the cats,” she said, referring to the “Library Cat,” comprised of seven bronze cats scattered around the library.

The process of selecting the art took much longer than the committee thought it would, Rasmussen said.

“We thought it would be easy, but it wasn’t,” she said.

One of the artists helped the committee. When the committee finally decided to reject the Bezalel-Levy piece, “Snow Fall on Cedars,” the Stanwood artists donated it.

“We felt strongly that it belonged in this library,” Chaim Bezalel said.

Jack Archibald, who designed a large stained glass for the library entrance, answered Woolf-Ivory’s question well.

“Great libraries are like great art, they not only reflect the community, but they inspire it,” Archibald said.

The creators of the “Library Cat,” Sarah Ohman and Mark Stevenson, of Port Townsend, each found a different significance in the project.

Ohman said she nearly became obsessed with taking pictures of her own cat while preparing for the project.

“It was so much fun watching our cat in every different pose,” Ohman said. Stevenson noted the project was especially meaningful for him since he grew up in libraries and surrounded by books, with his mother a librarian and his father an English teacher.

The Friends of the Marysville Library contributed to the acquisition of art by purchasing a beautiful water color painting of a rhododendron in two pieces by Joan Grout and a Gene Cyrus’ painting of a storyteller with children gathered around.

In Arlington, there is no permanent art at the small library, but the library’s management allows the local arts council to use its wall space in a win-win arrangement for both the artists and the library and its patrons.

“We love having the ongoing art show,” said managing librarian Kathy Bullene.

The AAC changes out the exhibit every other month, and on Dec. 5 they installed a festive exhibit based on the theme, “Red.”

The children’s librarian, Lesla Ojeda, said the exhibit is often noted by patrons.

“The other day a photographer was asking for information about the arts council because she was thinking of joining,” Ojeda said. She personally enjoys trying to guess the theme after each show is installed.

“I guessed the theme of this one, because every picture has some red in it.”

She said her favorite is the triptych with pears by Pat Oakes.

“The colors are beautiful,” she said “And if you look at them from different angles, you see different things.”

“We really enjoy the ever changing show,” Ojeda said.

The coordinators of the project are AAC Vice President Carey Waterworth and AAC Treasurer Jean Olson. The AAC also offers art in public places in its Art Along the Way project coordinated by Erika Bruss.

Marysville’s new art

n “Library Cat” by Sarah Ohman and Mark Stevenson.

n “Dewey Digital” by Jack Archibald.

n “Snowfall on Skykomish” by Chaim Bezalel and Yonnah Ben Levy.

n “Children at Storytime” by Gene Cyrus.

n “Rhododendron Diptych” by Joan Grout.

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