A grassroots program designed to showcase local artists is changing, but it's not going away.
The Paonia Public Library's Art Lending Library has undergone a transition and will move forward as The Gallery at Paonia Library, according to Delta County Libraries communications and outreach administrator Tracy Ihnot.
The program began as a member program at Elsewhere Studios to bring exposure to local artists. Patrons could rent original works of art for $20 a month. If they decided to purchase the piece, $10 from the fee would go toward the cost. Artists showed a lot of interest and submitted their work, and the program quickly outgrew the space. After a year it merged with the Blue Sage Center for the Arts. The Living Farm and Back Country Coffee joined in as satellite galleries.
The program attracted about 40 artists in five years, and the library decided to take it over. In August 2016, they held a grand opening. Under the program, if a piece sold, the artist received 100 percent of the sale.
Between the opening and last spring, only two pieces sold, said Delta County Libraries assistant director LaDonna Gunn during a meeting last March to reassess the program and discuss what a successful art library might look like.
From the beginning this was a pilot program, said Ihnot. The statistics on checkout rates versus overall cost to maintain the program simply didn't support its continuation. The new gallery approach will allow the library to continue to provide opportunities for local artists to showcase their work. The big change is that the pieces will no longer be available for checkout by library patrons. Anyone who is interested in purchasing a piece can contact the artist directly. Artists can sign up for space and learn more about the program's policies and procedures through the library.
Artists on exhibit through June 30 include original watercolor designs by Spencer Lightfoot; unique pieces of salvaged metal and resin by Devon Alves; Worldscape Photography by Chris Tschinkel; contemporary artwork by Karen Howe; oil paintings by Cedar Keshet; floral paintings in oil and watercolor by Margaret Milliken; and abstract oils on canvas by Lea Petmezas.
The exhibit will rotate every one to three months, and a new artist will be featured each month. The gallery will hold its first official opening from 6-7 p.m. Friday, June 30, as part of the Final Friday Art Walk.