Art at APL

Downtown Books, acrylic painting by Willow Bayer

For the past five years, the Appleton Public Library (APL) has been showcasing local creators through its artist-in-residence program that supports and celebrates fine art and artists in the Fox Cities. APL has hosted over 40 artists through this program.

“By providing space for artists to showcase their art and programs in which they can inspire and educate the public, we are helping to foster a creative and connected community and expand the library’s role as a community resource,” says Adult Services & Engagement Librarian Melanie Thurber. 

Thurber leads the curation team which selects artists for the program. This year that team included Curator of Public Programs for the Museum of Wisconsin Art Ally Wilber and General Manager and Staff Creative at McFleshman’s Brewing Co. Stephanie Harvey.

Eligible artists must live or work within the Fox Cities, be willing to share their expertise with the public and have demonstrated passion for increasing the community’s interest in and access to art. The APL curation team selects artists whose work represents the diversity of art styles and demographics of the Fox Cities, and showcases various points of view.

“We work to really showcase the talent that is right here in our community,” Thurber says. “They are sometimes burgeoning artists who have great enthusiasm in helping others to see their own artistic abilities, all the way to the seasoned professional whose experience has given them the range and talent making them uniquely able to instruct and showcase years or decades of work.”

The 2021 artist lineup includes Willow Bayer, Wendi Turchan, Elyse-Krista Mische and Jesse Martinez.

The three-month residency is tailored to each individual artist and includes a mix of lectures, workshops and demonstrations on a monthly basis. Some artists opt for larger projects rather than small classes. 

“We have had some incredible partnerships with local clubs or organizations and even have an awe-inspiring mural on our Teen Room wall thanks to previous Artist-in-Residence Gregory Frederic,” Thurber says. 

APL strives to make information and resources accessible to all Fox Cities residents and this includes the powerful benefits of art. 

“Art is essentially visual storytelling. What a great way to get to know our incredible and diverse community,” Thurber says. “We hope by removing barriers of cost and expectations of experience, connecting to these incredible artists will create lasting impact on the creativity and well-being of our community.”

Due to COVID-19, the APL building is currently closed to the public, so staff and artists are getting creative with programming and finding ways to make art accessible. 

“We don’t know what 2021 will bring, but we are ready to connect people to great art whether in their homes or in the library,” Thurber says. 

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Arts & Culture

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