Topsham library marks 10 winters of artful joy

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TOPSHAM — For the past decade, the Topsham Public Library has sought to inject some color into winter’s whites, grays and browns.

The 25 Foreside Road library will hold its 10th annual “Joy of Art” exhibit reception from 1-3 p.m. Saturday, Jan. 27. Thirty-four works from year-round Mainers, ages 16 and older, professionals and amateurs, will be featured in the library’s Crooker Gallery from Tuesday, Jan. 23-Feb. 24.

The library awards cash prizes in categories such as oil and acrylic, pastel, mixed media, other media, watercolor, and three-dimensional artwork. Two local artists – whose names are anonymous until the reception, and whose works are not included in the contest – will determine the winners. Library visitors will have until Feb. 21 to choose the People’s Choice award, which will be presented at 11 a.m. the final day of the exhibit.

Call the library at 725-1727 or visit topshamlibrary.org for more information.

The curated exhibit started not long after the library’s 2004 opening as a way to showcase the building’s “beautiful gallery space,” Director Susan Preece said in an interview Jan. 11.

The library sought artwork to cover those walls, and Connie Bailey, the gallery coordinator, and Kurt Neufeld, president at the time of the library’s board, brainstormed the idea of creating a winter exhibit for local and state artists alike.

“In the wintertime, artists are … making art, so they’re less busy than they are in the summertime, with the gallery exhibits,” Preece noted, pointing to the opportunity the library provides for them to display their work in the off-months.

“Every year it has blown everybody away, because it gets better and better,” she said.

The registration fee is $15 for each item, with a cap of two pieces. The cash prize is $30 for both the individual categories and the People’s Choice award.

“No one will retire on that, but every little bit helps,” Preece said with a chuckle.

Speaking to what has kept the Joy of Art exhibit – which precedes each spring’s Joy of the Lens photography show – going for a decade, she said, “art is an inherently public media. The artist works alone, solo in the studio, and then the next step is to show your work. And to be able to have a conversation … with the artist and the people who are viewing the art.”

“It gives people something different to look for,” Preece added. “… It’s a great time of year to do something different, or experiment if you’re an artist.”

Alex Lear can be reached at 781-3661 ext. 113 or alear@theforecaster.net. Follow him on Twitter: @learics.

The Topsham Public Library will hold its 10th annual “Joy of Art” exhibit reception Saturday, Jan. 27. Library visitors have until Feb. 21 to choose the People’s Choice award, which Patricia Norzow won last year with her work “Summer.” (Keith Spiro / For The Forecaster)

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A Maine native and Colby College graduate, Alex has been covering coastal communities since 2001, and currently handles Bath, Topsham, Cumberland, and North Yarmouth. He and his wife, Lauren, live in the Portland area, and Alex recently released his third album of original music.