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Show-Offs

library art committee tries to attract new talent by exposing itself

Tom Giffey

HOLD YOUR FIRE. Eric Lee incorporated a cluster of match heads in his oil painting “Lucifer,” which is one of several dozen works currently on display at the L.E. Phillips Memorial Public Library.
HOLD YOUR FIRE. Eric Lee incorporated a cluster of match heads in his oil painting “Lucifer,” which is one of several dozen works currently on display at the L.E. Phillips Memorial Public Library.

The title of the latest art exhibit at the L.E. Phillips Memorial Public Library – “We’ll Show You Ours” – is an attention-grabbing bit of double-entendre. The works on display are attention-grabbing as well: The show, which opened Sept. 8 and runs through Oct. 15 in the library’s second-floor gallery, is composed of recent works by members of the library’s Visual Arts Committee. It’s art by the artists who normally pick out the art.

If that art-by-art-picking-artists idea is a bit too abstract, the works themselves will bring you back to earth and spark your imagination. They include starkly beautiful black-and-white photographs of South Dakota’s Badlands by Bruce Warren (who curated the exhibit), storybook-style watercolor-and-colored pencil images by Mary Melcher, large canvases of dancers in fluid motion by local legend Barbara Shafer, and an ominous Eric Lee oil painting peppered with match heads titled “Lucifer.” (Yes, “Lucifer” is old-fashioned slang for a match, but I think there’s something else at work in the imagery too.) Other artists featured include Jody Balow, David Brock, Jyl Kelley, David Knowlton, Lori Mirmesdagh, Janice Roberts, Jenna Ruder, Jon Thorpe, and David Caradori. (The latter, a well-known Eau Claire potter, even contributed a watercolor to the show.)

Warren, who’s been on the committee less than a year, said the original intention of the show was to highlight works by newer committee members such as himself. However, he said, “I thought it would be more democratic if everybody on the committee was able to do it.” Thus the eclectic result that now fills the library’s gallery. Warren also suggested “We’ll Show You Ours” as the title of the show. “My other suggestion was ‘Blatant Self-Promotion,’ ” he quips.

But the exhibit isn’t really about stroking artistic egos. Warren hopes it serves as an educational tool both for the public (who’ll be edified by the art) and up-and-coming artists in the community (who may be inspired to put their own creations on display). Such artists may be unfamiliar with the Visual Art Committee and its members or might be intimidated by the thought of approaching the committee with an exhibit proposal. Warren says these artists may be asking themselves, “Who are those people who make those decisions?” The exhibit replies to such questions with a come-on that’s the unwritten subtitle of the exhibit: “Show Us Yours.”

We’ll Show You Ours (art exhibit) • L.E. Phillips Memorial Public Library, 400 Eau Claire St. • Sept. 8-Oct. 15 • open during normal library hours: 10am-9pm Monday-Thursday; 10am-6pm Friday; 10am-5pm Saturday; and 1-5pm Sunday • www.ecpubliclibrary.info.