Art at the Library

Local Art @ EPL

Our Local Art @ EPL program provides Evanston and Chicagoland artists with the opportunity to exhibit, promote, and sell their work free of charge.  Each month we host a show by a different local artist or art group in the exhibit space on the 2nd floor of our Main Library.  Our artists have ranged from high school students to those beyond retirement age and from veterans of the Chicagoland exhibition circuit to those debuting their first show. We’re pleased to have hosted everything from photography, paintings, and sculpture to collage, graphic art, comic book drawings, and Japanese haiga.

To learn more about exhibiting, please contact Jamillah Hinson,, 847-448-8601

Views of the Library

Photographs of the Evanston Public Library
Joseph Powell, Design Architect; Nagle, Hartray and Associates, Managing Architects; Hedrich-Blessing, Architectural Photography.

Art On Permanent Display at the Library

“May First” by Walter Burt Adams Adams (1903-1990) was an American artist who lived in Evanston and painted Evanston street scenes between 1931 and 1977. This painting shows the first library building, the 1908 Carnegie building, as it appeared in the 1930s. The Library Volunteers purchased the oil painting for the library.
(Located on the fourth floor in the reception area of the Administrative offices.)

“Innocence Guarded by Faithfulness” by Giovanni Maria Benzoni (Italian, 1809-1873)
Mystery surrounds this interesting piece. It was found under the front steps of the 1908 library building when that building was being demolished in 1960 and no one knew who or when it was placed there. This marble sculpture from 1868 depicts a young girl, with her beloved dog, who falls asleep while creating a wreath. Among the flowers at her feet, a snake approaches but before it can bite her the faithful dog stops it and tries to wake up the girl.
(Located on the third floor in the Evanstoniana room.)

“Book Leaves” by Michele Oka Doner
This art flooring installation consists of 65 flat cast bronze sculptures embedded in a black terrazzo matrix. Most of the images are botanical — leaves, twigs, seeds, and pollen from trees in the Evanston area. The geometric shapes are abstracts based on the stone piers on the exterior of the building. The individual bronzes may be enjoyed while one walks upon the floor, or the entire piece may be observed from the balcony or staircase. Ms. Doner lives and works in New York City. This piece was purchased as part of the City of Evanston’s Public Art Program. (Located in the first floor lobby.)

“Ghostwriter” by Ralph Helmick and Stuart Schechter
This suspended sculpture consists of 2500 separately cast aluminum elements suspended on 900 wires. There are three segments to the composition. A head composed of over 1500 cast aluminum letters. The head is both androgynous and a composite of world racial and ethnic types. The second segment is a spiral passing through the center of the piece. It is a metaphor for imagination and creativity. The third segment is the ambient symbols floating throughout the piece. Within the piece there are twenty-five references to world sculpture and twenty-four intentional words. There are several Evanston images, including leaves of trees that grow in this area, the Grosse Pointe Lighthouse, and a map of the community. Some of the images were suggested by Evanston residents and by people involved in the library building project. All of the suspended elements were first fabricated in wood or clay and then cast in aluminum by a commercial foundry. The head began as a traditional plaster sculpture, which was then laser-scanned into a three dimensional computer modeling program. Drawing programs were used to assist in the creation of the spiral and the placement of the ambient elements. While the sculpture could have been created without computer technology, that technology greatly facilitated composition and measurement. Misters Helmick and Schechter are from Massachusetts. This piece was purchased as part of the City of Evanston’s Public Art Program. (Suspended in the grand stairway.)

Untitled Stoneware Sculpture by Ruth Duckworth (American, 1919-2009)
Paul H. Leffmann donated this hand built stoneware sculpture to the Library in memory of Theo H. Leffmann. Ruth Duckworth was born in Germany, educated in England, and has lived and worked in the Chicago area since 1964 until her death in 2009. Her works are included in the collections of the Art Institute of Chicago, the Boston Museum of Fine Arts, Windsor Castle, and the Stuttgart Museum among others. This sculpture was made in 1973.
(Located behind Reference Desk on third floor)

“Bookends” by Richard Hunt
Two stainless steel sculptures by nationally acclaimed Chicago artist Richard Hunt sit atop two pillars on the west facade of the building. The abstract work represents the evolution of the storage of information in western culture. One side represents the shape of a scroll and an open book, while the other side represents modern technology with the image of a computer screen and antenna. The work was installed in June, 1997, and was purchased with funds bequeathed for this purpose by Edward A. Johnson in 1986.

“World View” by Richard LaLonde
Philip and Nancy Kotler donated this fused glass mural to the Library in 1994. Richard LaLonde, a Seattle, Washington artist, has stated that his piece “presents images which are individually interpreted by the viewer.” He has suggested that the piece can be read from the left to the right, with the left panel loosely representing the past, the center panel the present, and the right panel the future. This piece was created by laying down crushed glass, as in a sand painting, and then fusing the glass in a kiln.
(Located on the landing between the first and second floor.)

“Untitled” by Evanston children
Paint on acrylic of Evanston scenes, 2018. Created at the Evanston Chamber Artisan SummerFest under the direction of One River School of Art & Design. Donated by the Evanston Chamber of Commerce, 2019. (Located on the landing between the first and second floor.)

“For Endless Trees” by Beverly Stucker Precious
These dual art glass panels are contemporary in design, but grounded in the Arts and Crafts tradition. The came (a metal bar used to secure the panes in stained glass or latticework windows) used in this piece is similar to that used in Frank Lloyd Wright’s Dana House (Springfield, c. 1904). Stainless steel panels within the windows are pierced with different designs allowing light and air to filter through. Dichroic glass creates jeweled bits of intense color that change from magenta to gold as the viewer passes by. Gray-green stud jewels punctuate the piece. Ms. Precious lives in Indiana. This piece was purchased as part of the City of Evanston’s Public Art Program.
(Located off the Lobby on either side of the entrance to the Children’s Room, the panels form the east walls of the Most Wanted area and the Book Sale area.)

“Out of Antiquity” by Ruth V. Weiner
This piece, consisting of a small collection of books made from porcelain, was donated by the artist. The entire work, the books, the pages, the bookmarks, everything is made from clay. Ms. Weiner is an Evanston resident.
(Located on the second floor west of the central staircase)

Untitled by Nicholas Krushenick
This 1969 silkscreen print later served as the basis of a New York City Ballet poster. Krushenick’s works are displayed in a number of museums including the Metropolitan Museum of Art, the Museum of Modern Art, and the Whitney Museum. Frederick Dose donated this piece to the Library.
(Located on the second floor, south wall at the east end of the building)

“Catamarans at Sunrise” by Rosemary Zwick
Rosemary Zwick was a long time Evanston resident and a well-known local artist. Her husband Sidney B. Zwick donated the oil painting to the Library.
(Located on the third floor in the Quiet Study Room. The prints in this room are also from paintings by Mrs. Zwick.)

“Severed Connections” by Robert Burton Middaugh
The painting is a 30” X 50” surreal landscape, acrylic paint on canvas. Gift of Mr. And Mrs. Victor Barcilon in June, 2004.
(Located on the fourth floor gallery wall, south side.)

“Poplars” by Amy Woodbury
Painted in 2006 by Evanston-based artist Amy Woodbury, the subject of “Poplars” is three figures, grouped closely together within their setting of rolling hills and poplar trees. “It is an idyll, a landscape, a nod to antiquity,” wrote Woodbury. The canvas is 30″ by 40″. Anonymous donation.
(Located on the third floor in the Quiet Study Room.)

Untitled Metal Sculpture by Bill Boyce
This small abstract metal sculpture by Chicago sculptor Bill Boyce is on the 3rd floor adjacent to the stairwell. Mr. Boyce has exhibited his work throughout Chicago, its suburbs and northern Indiana.

“Peregrine Chick” by Beth Adler

This painting of a peregrine falcon eyas recognizes the many generations of peregrine falcons hatched and raised at the Main Library building. The painting is 22” by 30” with pencil, india ink and gesso. Gift of the artist in 2015. Located on the west side of the 3rd floor.

Sidewalk Poetry
In April 2010 The City of Evanston’s Public Art Committee and the Board of Directors of the Evanston Public Library held a poetry competition to select five original poems by Evanston residents to be installed in concrete on the sidewalk ramp in front of the main Library in downtown Evanston. A panel of judges selected five poems (from 328 entries) which were installed in September 2010. The judges were: Susan Newman – Library Board member; Josh Williams – performance poet; Julia Crowley-Farenga – ETHS student, poet; Michael Rohd – Northwestern Univ theater professor; Neal Ney – former Library Director: and Lina Ramona Vitkauskas – poet, Northwestern staff writer. This public art project was funded by the Washington National Tax Increment Financing (TIF) District. The poems are: “Research” by Ethan Plaut, “Clark Street Beach” by Charlotte Hart,  Poem  by Toby Sachs, “Snowflakes” by Susan Gundlach, and “The Poetic Foot” by Alicia Berneche.

Children’s Room

“Discover New Worlds” by Eric Rohmann
Eric Rohmann is a native of Illinois, who now lives outside Chicago. His work has been exhibited at galleries in Illinois, Ohio, Minnesota, and Indiana, and is in the permanent collection of several institutions in the United States and Europe. He has created book jackets for a number of novels, including Philip Pullman’s trilogy, His Dark Materials, which includes The Golden Compass, The Subtle Knife, and The Amber Spyglass. He has illustrated King Crow, by Jennifer Armstrong and The Prairie Train by Antoine Ó Flatharta.

He is the author and illustrator of four books: Time Flies (1994), a Caldecott Honor Book, The Cinder Eyed Cats (1997), My Friend Rabbit (2002), winner of the Caldecott Medal, Pumpkinhead (2003), and Clara and Asha (2005).

“Discover New Worlds” is a 34.25″ by 11″ oil painting reminiscent of Rohmann’s Golden Compass book jacket, which has a polar bear on it. Purchase made possible by the Edward Johnson Endowment Fund in October, 2003.
(Located in the Children’s Room, Art Garden.)

“Metamorphosis” by Peggy Macnamara
Peggy Macnamara is an Evanston resident and the illustrator of Illinois Insects and Spiders. The painting “Metamorphosis” is the original of one of the illustrations in that book. Macnamara is an adjunct associate professor at the School of the Art Institute of Chicago, artist-in-resident and associate of the Zoology Department at the Field Museum; instructor at the Field Museum, Chicago Public Libraries Nature Connection, and Art Institute Family Programs. “Metamorphosis” is a watercolor on paper, 30” by 20.” Purchase made possible by the Edward Johnson Endowment Fund in May, 2007.
(Located in the Children’s Room, Family Reading area.)

“A strong breeze shook the tree…” by Brian Pinkney
Brian Pinkney is the winner of the Coretta Scott King award for illustration. His books have also won the Parent’s Choice Picture Book Award, the American Bookseller’s Pick of the Lists award, and the Golden Kite Honor Award. This painting is from Max Found Two Sticks. It is oil on board, 16” by 10.” Purchase made possible by the Edward Johnson Endowment Fund in October, 2007.
(Located in the Children’s Room, Art Garden.)

“She told you all the stories in the world,” by Kristina Swarner
“She told you all the stories in the world,” is from the children’s picture book Before You Were Born, by Howard Schwartz. The image is linocut, watercolor, gouache and colored pencil on paper, 11” by 21.” Her recent book awards include the Koret International Book Award in 2006 and the Sydney Taylor Book Award Gold Medal in 2008. Her work has been exhibited internationally and is in numerous private collections. Purchase made possible by the Edward Johnson Endowment Fund in January, 2007.
(Located in the Children’s Room, Art Garden.)

This sculpture is just inside the entrance to the Children’s Room. It was designed by Peter Exley of Architecture is Fun and built by Red Box Workshop of Chicago. Chicago artist Alejandro Romero created the mosaics on Kinderspring. Children visiting the Library can control the sounds Kinderspring makes. This sculpture was installed during the remodeling of the Main Library Children’s Room in August, 2007.

Today a reader, tomorrow a leader.