Westville Library Makes Space For Artists

Allan Greenier PhotoSharon Lovett-Graff takes so much delight in the community space at her Mitchell Branch Library, you’d think it were a room in her own home that she’d recently decorated.

“Look at the room. It’s so different!”

The occasion of the library branch manager’s exclamation on Monday was the hanging of the busy branch’s newest art exhibition, works by Allan Greenier. The show runs during library hours through Oct. 21.

Greenier, who has described himself an “underground cartoonist back in younger wilder days,” is showing a range of prints, a medium he began to work with in 2010.

One of the pleasures of the show is to see, in a whole wall of Greenier works, the artist’s process of learning and experimenting with new media, from the serigraphs or silk screens on which his cartoons seem first to have appeared, to highly detailed ink drawings, to etching and aquatints.

Greenier’s cartoons, like his take on smiling politicians and airline marketing, pack a satirical punch, while also being inviting through their choice of warm colors and the grace of humor that offers comic relief.

While he still seems to be finding an equivalent visual “voice” for the abstract work he is offering, you sense the trial-and-error energy and a forward momentum, as if the moment of consolidation or a break-through might be near.

I have a vivid memory of meeting Greenier — although he may not remember me scribbling away — at a long-ago Kehler-Liddell Gallery opening that I was covering. He was asking all kinds of questions, taking it all in as a viewer and, in hindsight, as an avid future practitioner of the prints and other works he saw on the walls as he makes a shift now from graphic to less representational works.

One of the reasons he’s attracted to making prints is that, what with the multiple numbers you can have with any given edition, the process is, to use, Greenier’s word “egalitarian.”

The room is perfect for such artists and such shows.

With grants over the last few years from the Emily Hall Tremaine Foundation, Lovett-Graff said the library has been able to fund a state-of-the-art hanging and lighting system that enables artists, when they show here, to feel they are taking their own work to a new level.

If the walls, as a result, are now regularly hung with art, the ceiling is hung with a recently installed LED projection system that enables artists to lecture about their work, films to be screened, tutorials to be run teaching library patrons how to use the library system and its allied data bases and linked websites.

“Without this, we couldn’t do half our programs,” Lovett-Graff said.

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