ReImagining DML’s Art

Dayton Metro Library will host ReImagining Works: Dayton Art & Artists, in the Main Library’s Conference Room 3A, Tuesday, May 16, from 6:30 - 7:30 pm. This program is ideal for art enthusiasts who wish to gain insight into DML’s own art collection. DML Librarian (and amateur artist) Martha Ballinger will share information about many of the ReImagining Works pieces artists created for DML’s 17 locations. Registration is required.

ReImagining Works was created in 2014, when DML and the Dayton Art Institute joined forces, with help from an anonymous bequest. The goal of the project has been to enhance new or renovated DML locations under its Libraries for a Smarter Future initiative, a $187 million facilities upgrade made possible by voter support of a 2012 bond, with original artwork created by regional artists – and that goal has almost been completed.

As each DML location has been renovated or built anew, selected art from DAI's permanent collection was voted on in each community, proposals were submitted, artists were chosen, and they created original artwork that reflect the inspiration pieces as well as the communities each Branch is located in throughout Montgomery County.

The first Branch to be upgraded under the Libraries for a Smarter Future initiative and to receive original art from a ReImagining Works artist was the historical renovation of the E.C. Doren Branch, located at 701 Troy Street in Old North Dayton. Its renovation began in 2014 and was complete the following year.

The E. C. Doren Branch is actually the oldest in DML's system and was named after local pioneering librarian legend Electra Collins Doren. She served as the Library's Chief Librarian from 1896 to 1905 and again from 1913 to 1928. The Doren Branch is unique in that it remains one of the few public buildings in the United States that is named for a female – an honor well deserved. Over the years, Doren collected Ohio women’s suffrage materials including diaries, scrapbooks, and correspondence. This collection is the basis for DML’s Women’s Suffrage Collection, which is the largest collection of suffrage materials in the U.S.

DAI's inspiration piece for Doren’s ReImagining Works was Stacks in Celebration (1954) by Charles Sheeler. Dayton artist Darren Kall created Six Sculptures of Old North Dayton (2015) – cutout sheets of aluminum that surround the outdoor reading terrace and represent historic Old North Dayton buildings: the E.C. Doren DML Branch Library (pictured below), Barney and Smith Car Works, the Waterworks Building, the Duncarrick Mansion, the Kossuth Colony, and Kiser Middle School. Kall created the sculptures with the visually impaired in mind, so that all patrons would be encouraged to touch the sculptures.

A total of 64 pieces of art from more than 50 artists (including four collaborations) will exist in all Dayton Metro Library Branches and the Main Library by June 2, 2023, when the Library’s capstone for Libraries for a Smarter Future, the new Huber Heights Branch, holds its grand opening. Artists Cedric Cox, Michelle Stitzlein, Ann Kim, and Mel Rea, ranging in location from Cleveland to Cincinnati, will have their original artwork displayed throughout the new, 27,000 square foot facility.

With the variety of services and programs already offered by DML, they have moved well into the 21st century by proving to the communities it serves that libraries aren’t only a place to check out books that tell stories. Beyond the shelves, on the walls of each Branch, unique and original artwork speaks a thousand words, welcoming all patrons to experience their stories in a new, reimagined way.

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