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 Jacob Edwards Library

JEL Website: www.jacobedwardslibrary.org

Monday, August 31st, 2009 Open House
comments read by Town Manager Chris Clark

In addition to the well executed portraits of some local industrialists as well as the prestigious landscape “Globe Village” by Francis Alexander (on the east wall in the main hall) that form the foundation of the art collection at the library, there are some new installations.

The monthly art exhibit bring a new perspective and opportunity to view art in the community.  Each month a new artist installs his or her show and on the first Thursday of the month (from 6:30 to 7:30 p.m.) there is a reception, where the community is encouraged to come by and meet the artist.

The August exhibit is coming to a close – Quinebaug Valley Community College (CT) student Ashley Hardt’s work graced the panels with her mixed media work.  In the display case, the 3-D work of retired Emergency Room nurse: Mary Larochelle, is on view.




On the lower level hallway, artifacts from the American Optical / Optical Heritage Museum collection are on view, curated by Dick Whitney and Donna Silverberg.

Montage   in the Pioppi Room

This montage was created by art students in Drawing and Painting Class Southbridge High School, 2001-2002 under the direction of teacher Donna Silverberg. Students were asked to examine the various styles of Architecture found in the center of town, and to interpret one building with plywood, paint, and other materials of their choice.  As was done most years, the artists were asked to contribute art work to one group project that would reach the community beyond the High School building. Eight Students participated:  Amanda Livengood, (daughter  of Councilor David Livengood), Lioudmila Mochegova, Anarae Zebryk,  Dmitriy Dunchick ,  Gabriel Seguin  and Lisa MacGillivray. [There are two pieces still unidentified – if anyone can assist with the identification it would be appreciated as our goal is to have all identified before we have a plaque made.]

Biography of Donna Silverberg
Donna Silverberg has been interested in making art virtually all of her life. Over the years her media has included drawing, painting, printmaking, metal smithing, ceramics and fiber arts. Donna is a certified art teacher and taught at all levels. Like Claire Birtz, she has taught in the Southbridge Public Schools, primarily at the high school, and has taught both adult workshops and children’s classes at the Worcester Art Museum.

A tireless community activist, this year Donna has presented two programs at JEL on the interpretation of Picturing America – a series of posters representing.   Silverberg is one of the driving forces behind the Optical Sculpture to be installed later this year on the common. Donna lives in Southbridge with her husband . She has two children.

Project 2 – Installation Landscape, Still Life and Architectural Watercolor at rear of stairwell on the lower level

Claire J. Birtz was an art teacher and educator in the Southbridge school system for many years. She designed and painted the Southbridge Town Seal that is on display at the MacKinnon Chambers at Town Hall. Actively interested in conservation, her legacy to the community is the funding of a conservation trust in her name.  Last year, the Jacob Edwards Library was honored with a $1,000 grant to purchase materials and provide programs on sustainability, by the Trust.  This partnership has allowed the library to stay current in a constantly innovative and emerging field.

The idea for this installation came about when former Town Clerk, Helen Lenti donated the four paintings that are installed here to the Historical Commission. The Commission voted to have the work on permanent display at Jacob Edwards Library. The two watercolors of Notre Dame were given to Helen by Lesley Stanley, at an earlier time.

Since then, the Claire J Birtz Trust has continued to support art in the community and provided a matching grant for the partial funding of the Optical Sculpture that is being spearheaded by Janina and Nancy Swiacki.

This is an ever-evolving story and just as late as Monday last, Mary Liro, executrix of the Trust, presented the remaining paintings to the Jacob Edwards Library (and some are for Town Hall). These beautiful pieces will be installed in the near future. And this morning, Claire St. Pierre donated a still life floral bouquet painted by Ms Birtz and presented to her during when she was serving as a Eucharistic Minister.


Margaret Morrisey (Jacob Edwards Library Director) and Chris Clark (Southbridge Town Manager)



Project 3 – Portrait of Dominic LiCastro by Christine O’Brien  -   hallway of the lower level

The portrait is a very realistic representation of Dominic LiCastro.  Beloved by the community, Mr. LiCastro served as a safety officer at the Southbridge Police Dept. He and his wife Jean were dedicated library patrons and donated this painting to the library community a while ago, and it was recently installed by the DPW. Over the years, Dominic helped identify historical photograph and helped document the information from the veteran’s monuments throughout town. He was one of those interviewed for the movie: Memories of Southbridge.

Esteemed local artist Christine O’Brien painted this portrait in the early part of her career and it was treasured by the LiCastros.  Many artists in the community attended Ms O’Brien’s L’atelier de Christine.  Ms O’Brien was a successful participant in the State House Christmas Card contest for many years. Her most notable success being the Ducklings Visit the State House for the Holidays card which was used as the Massachusetts Official State House greeting card for 1998.  Ms O’Brien donated a card at the time to the library, and it is on permanent display in the Children’s Room.

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