Transylvania County Library owns several permanent art installations.
“Reading a River” by George Handy
This large, colorful, 3-D mural by George Handy can bee seen in the Youth Services section of the Library and is visible as you enter. It was commissioned as part of the construction of the new building at 212 South Gaston Street and was completed and installed in 2007. Funding for this public artwork was generously provided by Doris and Frank Guest in honor of their daughters.
Mr. Handy’s work was chosen for the Library by a Mural Art Selection Committee. The committee members were R.E.D. “Andy” Anderson, Library Foundation Board; Tom Balke, Little Diversified Architects; Bill Byers, Brevard College, Nancy Meanix, community representative; Sharon Nunnelee, TC Arts Council; Jeanne Smith, Library Foundation Board; Pat Tooley, community representative; Anna Yount, Library Director; Lisa Sheffield, Adult Services Librarian; and Jeffrey York, ex officio, NC Arts Council.
An explanation of “Reading a River” from the artist, George Handy:
“This composition, designed of three sections, is linked with the image of a river running through the piece. The artwork identifies Transylvania County as the headwaters of the French Broad River, and my intent is to represent the natural mountain beauty and rich cultural heritage of this unique region.
The installation may be interpreted as three chapters of a book. Excerpts of James Joyce’s Finnegan’s Wake, a novel about the recirculation of history and the natural world, are included to draw the viewer along the artwork from left to right as this movement will reveal the color changing feature of the three disks, or suns, displayed in the phases of rising, midday and setting. Also as the viewer’s perspective changes, the holographic visual effect creates magical color alterations along the river. This viewer-interactive effect is also used to symbolize the waterfalls: the blue water is transformed into blue green transformations as evidenced in the rush and fall of water when oxygen purifies it. Tourists drawn to this region by attractions such as Looking Glass Falls and other visitors to the library may engage in this dynamic effect. The title, Reading a River, references the terms used by river paddlers as they ‘read’ the ideal route just as mountain climbers ‘read’ a path ascending a mountainside.
The theme of a circulating river is intended to parallel the library’s main function as the term ‘circulation desk’ implies….a circulation of knowledge.
Section one is predominantly abstract, and section two introduces identifiable images, such as several animal forms and a musical instrument. Section three on the far right depicts an abstract and cubist rendering of a human figure composed of books. This triptych serves to symbolize the learning process: a natural evolution beginning with abstract ideas evolving into realized concepts, and finally culminated and refined with the resources found in this library. This young human figure is shown gazing into the westward setting sun, representing her future, as the inspiration from this natural mountain community and the advent of this new facility has culminated in her ability to create her own unique legacy as she goes out into the world.
The artwork includes symbols and invites the viewer to create his own. Symbols such as the dotted lines representing hiking trails and tunnels representing the Blue Ridge Parkway are included, among others, for the viewer to interpret just as a reader would a book.”
George Handy is a painter and sculptor based out of Asheville, NC. Handy works with a variety of materials including ceramic, wood, glass, and mixed media. Handy’s relief wall sculptures are featured in many residential and corporate spaces and offer colorful art with narrative painting and/or abstract design. For more information about the artist and his work, visit: www.georgehandy.com
“Good News” by Pietro Lazzari
“Good News” hangs in the Rowell Bosse North Carolina Room (on the second floor of the Library), where archival conditions help maintain its preservation. This glazed tempera paint mural is reminiscent of a fresco and depicts a rural mail delivery. The scene shows three farmers discussing the sale of a calf, a postman distributing letters, and a child chasing a duck.
“Good News” by Pietro Lazzari, was commissioned on January 2, 1941 and completed on April 10, 1941. It was installed in the building located at 101 South Broad Street (that was at that time the Brevard Post Office) on October 17, 1941. When the building was later converted into the Transylvania County Library, the painting remained and is now owned by the Library at its current location of 212 South Gaston Street.
Pietro Lazzari, a painter, sculptor, and muralist, was born in Rome Italy, May 15, 1898. At the age of thirteen he was apprenticed to Calcagnadoro to learn the art of fresco. He received his art education in Italy, which was interrupted by serving in the first World War. Later he traveled to France, doing freelance work and studying at the Beaux Arts institute in Paris. In 1926 he came to New York and exhibited there. In 1929 he became a naturalized citizen. He exhibited numerous times in New York City, Florida, and Connecticut. In 1940 Lazzari became a WPA (Works Progress Administration) artist and created a similar mural for Sanford, NC as well. He was a resident of Washington, D.C. at the time that “Good News” was created. Lazzari achieved some notoriety during his career and was included in the “Who’s Who in American Art” 1967 and 1973 editions.
“Whiteside Mountain” by Elliot Lyman Fisher
This hand-tinted photographic mural of Whiteside Mountain was created by Asheville-based artist Elliot Lyman Fisher (in residence from 1934-1958). It hangs in the Connestee Conference Room on the second floor of the Library.
Originally gifted to local notable Harry H. Strauss by Richard Jennings of Asheville and Cashiers, the photo mural remained in storage for some time and was bequeathed to the Olin/Ecusta plant founded by Harry Strauss after his death. The photo mural was intended to be placed in the Olin/Ecusta plant’s cafeteria above the fireplace, but this placement meant that a portrait of Harry Strauss would have to be moved. Employees objected, wishing to show respect to the plant founder, and so the mural was instead donated to the Transylvania County Library in 1979. The Library Director at that time, Elizabeth Kapp Tyson, accepted the donation alongside the President of the Library Board.
“The Three Bears” by Meredith Hamby
This acrylic mural depicting the popular children’s story “The Three Bears” is located in the Freeman Storytime Room in the Youth Services wing of the Library.
It serves as a memorial for former children’s librarian Phyllis Haynes and was made possible by donations to a memorial fund created by her family and friends. The artistic style of this mural is based upon the version of the story written and illustrated by Byron Barton, with permission received by the author. The mural was created in late March of 2009, and took only 3 days for artist Meredith Hamby to create. “The Three Bears” was unveiled on April 7, 2009 at a public reception.
“Elizabeth Kapp Tyson” by Sarah Sneeden
This oil painting of former director Elizabeth Kapp Tyson hangs across from the Circulation desk when entering the Library.
Elizabeth Kapp Tyson was the Library director from 1944-1982 and served as the first director of the Library as a state-funded institution. Local artist Sarah Sneeden was commissioned by the Board of Trustees to complete the portrait upon Ms. Tyson’s retirement.
The book in Ms. Tyson’s hand was her favorite — The Life of St. Francics of Asissi. Ms. Tyson gifted a copy of the book to the current director, Anna Yount (1994 – present), upon her acceptance of the position of Director.
A North Carolina resident since 1967, artist Sarah Sneeden is a native of Pennsylvania. She graduated from Centenary College in New Jersey, the Famous Artists School, the New York Institute of Photography, and the Portrait Institute of New York. Annual workshops in the West have added experience and new ideas to her painting repertoire. A voracious reader, Sarah’s extensive art library keeps the art world at her fingertips. Sneeden uses the mediums of watercolors, prismacolor pencils, and pastels for sketching but prefers the permanency of oils for her finished pieces. Sarah is an associate member of Oil Painters of America. She has won Best of Show awards in Brevard, Tryon, and Hendersonville, N.C. She was awarded the Grumbacher Gold Medallion for Excellence in the ’99 Pen Women Show. Her studio is located in Cedar Mountain, NC.