Sunday, 30 July 2017

Sunday July 30th, 2017 Art at your Library

When you think about where to find interesting works of art in Thunder Bay, the options might include the Thunder Bay Art Gallery, Definitely Superior, and many local galleries and shops. But do you ever think of visiting a branch of the Thunder Bay Public Library for browsable art collections? If not, you should. The Library’s collections are not limited to books that you can borrow, use, or download but also include photos, paintings, and one of a kind pieces that you won’t find anywhere else.

The largest work of art is actually the architectural masterpiece that is the Brodie Resource Library. It is one of only 111 Carnegie libraries built in Ontario. Construction began in 1910 and the doors opened to the public in 1912 under the direction of Miss Mary J. L. Black (rumoured to have been a friend to members of the Group of Seven). Located at 216 Brodie Street South, the Brodie Resource Library maintains many of its original features, most notably the interior columns and the stained glass fanlights with portraits of prominent authors and poets. During the Library’s early years it offered a variety of art prints and paintings available for borrowing so that patrons could enjoy works of art without having to make the financial investment. A full length feature about the Brodie Resource Library was published in June 2017 in the Walleye and is definitely worth a look.

The Story-Teller by John Ferris is in tribute to the late Dr. Richard Lyons, an Ojibway elder whose “life and directly related to the role of our public libraries, places where knowledge, culture and tradition are passed on.” According to Ferris, through the eagle and eagle feathers, the painting is meant to represent “the strength and vitality of creation and tradition expressed in ritual storytelling, which soars above us all in the life and language we share.” This painting was presented to the Thunder Bay Public Library on October 15, 2007. It now hangs above the fireplace on the main floor of the Brodie Resource Library.

Dozens of photos, prints, and other works of art are on display around the building. A self guided art tour brochure can be picked up from staff to provide further information.

Another notable piece can be found at the Mary J. L. Black Branch Library - a mosaic mural by Fort William artist, Ruby Owen. It depicts a man transforming into a Thunderbird and it based upon an earlier painting by Norval Morriseau. Owen created this mural between 1964-1965 and it reportedly contains 27,000 individual tiles. Installed in the lobby on November 18, 1965, the mural hung there for 45 years until 2010 when it was carefully removed for restoration, cleaning, and moving to its new location at 901 Edward Street South. When the new Mary J. L. Black Branch library opened in 2011, the mural once again greeted everyone coming into the building. Works by Norval Morriseau, Roy Thomas, and  other local/regional artists also adorn the walls around the branch.

For further resources and ways to access art at your library, check out the local history section of our website or attend an upcoming program for children, youth, or adults (such as Afternoon Artist in September). There is a full slate of programming scheduled for the 2017 Fall season that is guaranteed to have something for everyone. And as always, if you have an idea or have skills to share we want to hear from you!

Jesse Roberts

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