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Artistic Endeavors: Town Library as an Arts Showcase

By Amy Noltensmeyer

The gas erupts with a pop followed by a steady whoosh of the flame. The length of the flame jumps as the glass blower adjusts the heat. The sword of color transforms from bone white at the bottom to saffron at the tip. The artist’s hair is the same color as the reddish flame he bends over as he works to get a closer look at his creation. The heat rises from the flame, but is not so easily felt, since a shield of plexiglass surrounds the artist’s surface to protect the audience.  

The glass artist enjoys the Zen feeling that getting caught in the light of the fire offers. A hypnotic flicker dances as he places a colored stick through the flame, gently and carefully twisting as its shape begins to mold into something new. A second and then a third colored stick are passed through the flame and after a time, a small ball emerges. A marble is made. Upon closer examination, a flower can be seen inside the center of the marble, a beautiful red rose encapsulated in the once-heated glass. As the glass begins to cool, the artist places the warm, smooth orb into the hand of the buyer.  

As the artist works his trade, the sounds that were once drowned out by the mesmerizing fire can be heard anew.  Sounds of conversation, laughter and camaraderie fill the space from end to end. The artist engages with his audience by answering questions and working to sell his wares. The aroma of food tickles the nose inviting the observer to stay awhile and enjoy. Fresh local fare consisting of meats and cheeses decorates crackers and breads. The observer is invited to walk through the gallery to find more eye-catching pieces of this month’s new display. It is an enjoyable ending to a busy event within the library walls. A library? Yes, the Buena Vista Public Library to be exact.  

Centrally located within the town of Buena Vista, the library is a great resource to act as an artist gallery and reception hall. For many of the independent artists in the area, the library has become a brick and mortar showcase for their use. The library venue displays art in a gallery setting and hosts potential buyers in both the receptions and the general library visitors each month. The library building includes a vaulted ceiling foyer with ample lighted display cases lining its main hall. Additional wall space throughout the building invites guests to tour the entire library. To accommodate large group seating, presentations, and receptions, the conference room wall collapses to expand on space, and a large banquet table hosts refreshments. The receptions create a gathering to connect the community with the artists and share appreciation for local talent and technique. 

Terry Stevens, Board President of Chaffee Arts, had this to say regarding the library, “Chaffee Arts is a local non-profit organization that has been supporting artists and art in the community since 1985. Our group does not have a physical location; so, the support of the Buena Vista Library is key to our success.  The receptions they hold for our artists throughout the year are always well attended and give our artists an opportunity to meet art lovers and, in many cases, sell their work. Most purchasers of art like to connect with the artist to understand technique and inspiration—the reception at the library is the place for this interaction. The receptions really make a big difference in advancing the economic vitality of our local art scene.”  

The library is a welcoming gateway, both physically and virtually, to access information and share ideas. Within its walls, community, literacy and cultural growth for guests is provided. The library strives to invite people in, make them feel welcome, beckons them to stay for a while and come back anytime. The art receptions are open to anyone and everyone, local and tourist alike. Several painters and a glass blower have given live demonstrations of their work. Because the artwork is displayed for the month, guests can come back to view the work again.  

Judy Sprague, Signature Member, Pastel Society of Colorado, commented, “The venue was excellent in that visitors to the library could see my art as they entered the facility. There was both wall space and glassed in display space for over 20 of my original drawings and paintings. The area was fresh, clean, and well lit. The reception was especially “over the top” with a lovely and tasty display of food and beverages. As I dropped in several times throughout the month-long display I noticed not only adults, but children viewing my art, some were with parents and others were alone. They stopped and “looked.” It’s not often that children have an opportunity to see artists’ work, or to go to actual art galleries.”  

The library is made available to patron and guest, to artist and buyer, to the young and the young at heart. The receptions allow for those who were coming in for library services to step into a different experience. And, for those who come initially only to see the artist, the guests grow in their understanding of all that the library has to offer. Sidney Sheldon has been quoted as saying, “Libraries store the energy that fuels the imagination.  They open up windows to the world and inspire us to explore and achieve, and contribute to improving our quality of life.”

Through Buena Vista Public Library’s collaboration with local artists, it provides everyone the chance to engage, enhance and expand their relationships throughout the community. For more information regarding a library membership or on displaying artwork, contact the Buena Vista Public Library at 719-395-8700.

Amy Noltensmeyer has been a resident of Buena Vista since 2004.  She is a happy introvert who lives with her son and her cat.