I've written a couple of posts in the past sort of poking fun of the way some galleries or exhibition venues handle certain things. It's sort of an easy target sometimes. I am, however, a fair person and when those same types of groups get something right, I don't mind patting them on the back a little.
When you think of a county library you probably think about books. We are probably all aware that libraries do much more than just let us check out books, but we still think about those things being closely related to books. They host book signings and story time and maybe they let you use their internet and computers. In the much larger cities the library may also find a way to host art exhibits, though even those mostly involve hanging art on the walls near the books.
A couple of years ago Miranda Sawyer had an idea to host an art exhibit at the Spartanburg County Library headquarters. This exhibit would showcase the work of students enrolled in universities in the upstate of South Carolina. Miranda pitched her idea to Todd Stephens, the county librarian and he had the wisdom to give the idea the thumbs up. Several months later the exhibit went up in a special area of the library with 5 area universities participating. The reception was a high class event and the students who attended were very impressed and quite proud to be part of such a cool thing.
The success of that exhibit spawned more annual juried exhibits. A renovation allowed the exhibit space to be separated from another area of the library by a glass wall. Then a couple of new exhibit spaces were created on other levels of the library. That one idea to bring art to the library quickly turned into multiple visual art exhibits on display at any given time. In fact, if you visit the library before February 26 you'll get the privilege of viewing several photos and prints by internationally known artist Andy Warhol. Not bad for a local library.
But this was more than just a good idea. It was a good idea identified by several good people. It was also thoughtfully planned and executed by those good people. Miranda and Todd were joined by Derrick and Amanda and probably several others that I haven't met yet. These guys are all very friendly and helpful and honestly they are a joy to work with. It's so nice to deliver artwork to people who are willing to help you carry it inside and who care very much about the safety and preservation of the artwork. It's so nice to bring students to their first ever reception and awards ceremony knowing that there's going to be live music and great catering to fancy up the situation. The students I've brought so far will never forget these great experiences.
So go to the Spartanburg County Library at 151 South Church Street in Spartanburg. Go downstairs and see the artwork, check out the Warhol exhibit and then go upstairs to the Administrative offices and see the rotating exhibits there. If you see an employee, be sure to tell them you came to see the artwork. And if you happen to run into Todd, Miranda, Derrick or Amanda, shake their hand and tell them thanks for mixing visual art with books.
And then go to Krispy Kreme.