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Superior Library toasts local artists

Art and the Superior Public Library have been intertwined since Carl Gawboy’s painted his first mural for the building in 1992. On Feb. 7, residents are invited to celebrate local artists with music, wine, food and beauty during the fourth annual “Love your Local Artist” event from 5:30-8 p.m. in the library’s peak room.

On the cultural palette, art and literature are a perfect mix, said wood artist Daniel Dunbar of Summit. Last year’s gathering featured nearly 40 artists and attracted 300 community members. This year’s will include up to 35 artists in a diverse array of mediums, from fused and stained glass to woodworking, fabric art and paintings.

“It’s amazing how much talent is in this small population,” said Nora Fie, manager of children’s and young adult services for the library. The works range from fine art to crafts, but they all display an individual’s talent.

“Every year there are more artists — many of whom connect with each other for the first time,” said Superior artist Pat Lenz with Superior Council for the Arts. “Many levels of expertise and experience are included.”

Not only will participants see some beautiful things, Fie said, they will leave with greater pride in the community. The string quartet, homemade goodies and wine are great too, said librarian Mary O’Shaughnessy. The entire experience is free and open to the public.

People can view artwork, talk with the artists and even purchase a piece.

“It’s a great way to put something unique in your life,” Dunbar said.

The February event can trace it’s beginning to a single display window. When Fie took down one of the library’s long-time dioramas, she lobbied to turn the extra space into an art display that would feature rotating works from the “Artist of the Month.”

“To me, that’s what the library is about, a place to express yourself and grow,” Fie said. “We gave them the space and it just started growing from there.”

Fie soon realized that many of the artists didn’t know each other, so she organized the first “Love Your Local Artist” in 2011.

“Why not start something that will let artists meet each other and have the community meet them?” she said.

Set in the dark cold of February, the event shines a light on art and those who make it.

“One of the biggest challenges to artists and arts organizations in our area is letting the community know what is going on,” Lenz said. “Artists and organizers regularly hear the comment ‘I had no idea that was going on!’ We don’t know the solution.”

Art events like the one Feb. 7 can help.

“Strong connections are being forged between artists and the community by events such as ‘Love Your Artist,’” Lenz said. “I think this is where the emergence of public support for the arts begins.”

This year, “Love Your Local Artist” will also serve as a fundraiser. Participants will be invited to adopt a book for the library and the evening will be capped with a silent auction featuring original work by the artists, with proceeds benefiting the library.