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Main Library Gallery Opens with a Renewal

By Jack Cantey

Fort Wayne Reader


When the Allen County Public Library opens the doors to its beautifully renovated main building at noon on January 27, area artists and art lovers will receive a belated Christmas present. And it is one hell of a gift.

The ACPL’s Main Library Gallery, which faces west onto Ewing Street, is 3,100 expansive square feet of artistic potential. Several of Fort Wayne’s finest galleries, combined, could fit within the walls of this space. Located just off the library’s grand hallway, the gallery will boast ten-foot high walls painted off-white, professional hanging systems and lighting, movable walls, a polished terrazzo floor, loading dock access, storage space, and wiring for multimedia installations.

Is your mouth watering yet?

According to the library’s exhibit coordinator, Lesley Lundgren, the gallery will serve as an ideal space to complement and promote the organization’s mission.

“We want to enhance the collection of the library,” Lundgren explains. “On one hand, we want to give Allen County artists a venue to show their art and not be charged [a commission] if they sell work. That’s something we offered in the old space and it’s nice we can do that in the new space.

“We’re also open to traveling shows and shows that offer material of historical, scientific, or...educational value for adults and children that highlight areas of our collection.”

Lundgren also says that she is looking forward to exhibiting work by former Allen County residents who have moved away.

The ACPL has long been a champion of the area’s artists. Previously, artworks were displayed on the main building’s second floor. Due to the spatial constraints, though, many works did not receive locations in the public’s eye. With the grand opening of the new building, however, that weakness will swiftly be put to rest.

Suitably, an exhibition spotlighting the depth and breadth of the area’s visual arts kicks off the library’s grand opening. Renewal: Celebrating Art and Community is comprised of 80 works from over 70 Allen County artists, and will be on view during regular library hours through the end of March. The show will feature a wide blend of media, including painting, sculpture, photography, multimedia, and fiber and paper art. The idea for the exhibition originated when library staff members met with local artists.

“Two years ago, we had a meeting with area artists,” Lundgren recalls. “It was with people from theatre, music, art, and dance. They told us what they wanted and what they were hoping for. It wasn’t just for the gallery, but also the auditorium downstairs. It was at that point that someone brought up the idea of a collective show when we opened.”

When plans for the show were finalized in 2006, Allen County artists responded enthusiastically. Lundgren received over 150 submissions (many with the maximum of five artworks) before last autumn’s deadline.

Renewal is just the beginning to a busy year in the gallery. The annual Fort Wayne Photographers Club exhibition will be featured in April, followed by student work from the University of St. Francis in May. Other 2007 shows include the 30th anniversary celebration of the Fort Wayne Artists Guild (July) and the annual Motherlode exhibition (October), as well as a possible collaboration with Artlink (stay tuned). As of the New Year, openings still exist in the gallery schedule for the months of June and September.

Artists interested in exhibiting in the library’s gallery should contact Lundgren (llundgren@acpl.lib.in.us) and arrange a meeting six months prior to the month of installation. Also, documents and guidelines relating to exhibition proposals will soon be available online at the library’s web site (www.acpl.lib.in.us).

The gallery will be staffed by ACPL employees, several of whom have degrees and backgrounds in the visual arts. Lundgren was also quick to point out that, true to the library’s involvement in the community, she received vital technological and strategic advice from several local curators, registrars, and gallery owners.

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©2018 Fort Wayne Reader. All rights Reserved.