Art Program History

Art Program History, 2015

By Veronica Funk

Painting By Gwen Lemay
The Art Exhibition Program in the Airdrie Public Library began in 1994 following the vision of former Board member and artist Gordon Cole.  At that time, the Library Board established an Art and Cultural Display Policy and an Arts Committee was appointed which consisted of one staff member, one Board member, and two Airdrie Artist Guild representatives who also assisted in hanging the work.  In 1999, the library added the Working Artist series to the program which allowed artists to work in the library in order to interact with the public.  On September 11, 2001 the Library honored the contribution of local artists by having an arts event that included a program, refreshments and the unveiling of an art history album which included all the artists that had exhibited to that date with pages for future exhibits.
With the assistance of the Airdrie Artist Guild, in 2009 the Working Artist series changed to become the Jr Artists Program which incorporated arts and crafts for children aged 9 through 12.  Since the Guild has disbanded, the library has grown the program, which runs the third Saturday of each month.  The Jr Artists Program can now accommodate more children, offering a variety of art workshops from glass painting to pottery to mixed media and more taught by local professional artists.  In the past year, with the financial assistance of Rocky View County, we have included a second Teen/Adult workshop and now offer an honorarium to the artists who graciously share their time, talents and supplies.
The Art Exhibition Program has also grown to include an annual High School Art Gala to celebrate local high school art with live music, refreshments, and a guest speaker.  In 2010 a glass cabinet was donated to the library by local artist Cheryl Bakke Martin in order to exhibit three dimensional pieces such as jewellery, pottery and sculpture.  We have also been including an arts component during other events and programs, such as incorporating visual art and live music during Senior’s Week, exhibiting international artwork during the Summer Reading Program and including visual art through the week prior to Remembrance Day. 
Since 1994, 915 artists have exhibited work in the library and over 4,000 pieces have been displayed.  All of the programs are well attended and are supported by the community and local media.

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