Vanessa Kimellen Bryant
Artist J. Kirk Richards stands by his painting, "Toward Mt. Pleasant," in the Orem Public Library.

OREM — A highlight of the recently created book discussion room in the Orem Public Library is a new oil painting by Utah County artist J. Kirk Richards.

LaRue Roberts Stevens of Orem commissioned Richards to paint a scene that recalls Stevens' youth on a farm in Star Valley, Wyo.

Richards spent six months creating the work, titled "Toward Mt. Pleasant."

It was a joint donation between the two, said Orem Public Library division manager Janet Low, and honors Stevens' mother.

"The simplified forms and rich, earthy colors of the work produce a peaceful setting that draws the viewer in," she said.

Stevens often comes to the library to read to her grandchildren.

Richards also writes and illustrates children's books. His Web site:, lists both the Orem Public Library and the Timpanogos Storytelling Festival as favorite links.

The room houses the library's 110 sets of book group titles and provides a quiet, enclosed space for a variety of library and community activities. It honors reading advocate Stevens, Low said.

Each set contains 12 copies and is used for discussion groups, usually comprised of neighbors and friends. The library continues to buy sets of popular titles for informal, culturally rich group discussions to encourage reading.

The formal reading room was created as part of a major $2.3 million remodel of the 37-year-old south wing that was mostly completed in March. Some detail work is still under way, Low said. The building was made seismically sound with improved lighting.

Stevens' family donated the time to paint the reading room and install the shelving, Low said. Other volunteers and groups, including youth groups, service clubs and Boy Scouts, provided voluntary manpower to move the books out of the library before the remodel, then move them back in again.

"Toward Mt. Pleasant" adds to the city's collection of art housed in the library.

Guided art tours of collection highlights are scheduled for Tuesday at 11 a.m. and Thursday, Jan. 17, at 7 p.m., or by appointment. For reservations and information, contact associate librarian Virginia Carlston at 229-7042 or by e-mail at: [email protected].

E-mail: [email protected]