Walk into most local libraries and you'll see paintings and other artwork on the walls. You might think that they're permanent decor, but chances are they're up only temporarily - soon to be replaced by works by other local artists.
These art exhibits have not only resulted in occasional sales, but provide exposure for amateurs and professionals alike.Virginia Clarkson of the Intermountain Society of Artists (ISA) said that when she was younger, she enjoyed painting. But, because of other priorities, she had to place painting on the back burner.
"However, what got me started painting again were the art displays I'd see in the Holladay Library."
She said that exhibiting in libraries gives the amateur a good place to start. "In fact, some of the artists doing very well now got their start here," she added.
Unless you're a member of ISA, you're out of luck if you want to exhibit in the Holladay and Ruth Tyler (Midvale) libraries. The organization took the initiative a number of years ago and got permission to hang works there.
Oil paintings by Marilyn Clayton are currently being featured at the Holladay Library. Unfortunately, as a result of the remodeling there, exhibition space has been moved to a different spot. "Before the modeling, the artworks were quite noticeable," Clarkson said. "Now they are practically hidden."
Clarkson said the exhibits at the Tyler Library are supervised by ISA member Bing Greener. They are attractively displayed in the board room just inside and to the right of the main entrance. Currently in the spotlight are landscape paintings by Nina N. Schumann of Lehi and portraits by Betty Liston of Pleasant Grove.
Some of the other libraries have their own staff members who supervise exhibitions - Lori Arnall at the Main Library's Atrium Gallery, Michelle Fey at Whitmore Library, Ben Ocon at the Anderson-Foothill Library and Jody Plant at the Avenues Branch Library.
In a telephone conversation with Ocon, he indicated that each exhibit remains hanging for six weeks, thus allowing eight artists to show their works each year. He said that the exhibit space is already booked through the summer, but there are still slots available for '91.
Exhibition space is fairly limited - enough for only about 15 works. But the library is being expanded. Ocon said, "In a matter of six months or so, we'll probably more than double the space to display art work."
He pointed out that there is a dual objective for displaying artists' works. It provides an aesthetic atmosphere, plus it gives local artists an opportunity to show their work.
"We've received many favorable comments by the public," he said.
Although artists put a price on their paintings, selling work is not their primary objective, Ocon said. "They are more interested in exposing work to the community in a low-profile setting."
He pointed out that the library does not handle sales. Interested buyers must contact the artists.
On display through March 15 at the Anderson-Foothill Library are Utah landscapes by local painter Pat Fishler.
Although traditional art is generally the style seen in the aforementioned libraries, this is not the case in others. The Atrium Gallery in the City Library, currently featuring innovative images by Wayne Chubin, is well-known for promoting innovative and abstract works.
And the Avenues Library is following suit, thanks to the efforts of Jody Plant. "Our goal is to provide exhibition opportunities for emerging artists in the community," she said.
"It has taken me five years to get our exhibition program off the ground," she said. "But we are now having some really nice shows up here. The space lends itself well to large, colorful paintings and fiber art."
Although exhibits have ranged from traditional to modern, Plant admits that she leans toward the latter. "I am attracted to the cutting edge of art - to people breaking new ground. I prefer works that are progressive, experimental and avant garde."
The abstract style of current exhibitor Thalo Porter parallels Plant's stylistic preference.
And Plant is excited about shows that have been booked for '91. They include photography by John Schaefer and Maggie Howieson, fiber by Becky Menlove and three-dimensional work and painting by Paul Heath.
For several years, the Whitmore Library has featured a number of exhibitions. Right now, it's showing "Contemporary Utah Women Artists," a traveling exhibition by the Utah Arts Council.
Here are excellent examples of work by women who have made and are still making significant contributions in the art world. This colorful show contains creative work by Sharon Alderman, Lee Udall Bennion, Susan Makov, Bonnie Phillips, Kathryn Stats, Maureen O'Hara Ure, Randi Wagner and others. Titled "Out of the Land," the exhibit will remain in the library's lower level through Feb. 22.
Paul Lyon, current president of Associated Utah Artists, had his debut at the Whitmore Library a couple of years ago. A retired metallurgist, he began painting seven years ago.
Since his one-man show at the Whitmore, he has exhibited in the Holladay and Tyler libraries, as well as participated in juried shows in the area. Currently his works are being featured in the Sandy City Hall.
And what are his comments regarding exhibiting his work in libraries?
"Although many people going to libraries generally aren't interested in buying art, they are exposed to it. I've received a lot of favorable comments from people who have seen my work there."