The Perry Public Library was the center of the art action Sunday afternoon in downtown Perry as it hosted an author-and-illustrator reading and the dedication of three new artworks for permanent display at the public center of the city’s intellectual and cultural life.
The 12:30 p.m. reading of “The Orphans and the Oak,” written by Katie/Kathi Owen Mable and illustrated by Betsy Mable Peterson, introduced about two dozen appreciative listeners to the heartwarming story of Tupper the acorn, who grew into an oak but longed to bring joy as a Christmas fir tree.
The book was born in part from painful personal losses in the lives of both the author and illustrator, but Peterson explained how suffering can be transformed into art by quoting a fragment of the Biblical scripture Nehemiah 8:10, “Do not grieve, for the joy of the Lord is your strength.”
Following the reading, one of Peterson’s original artworks was dedicated in the children’s book section of the Perry Public Library, taking its place alongside a bulletin board triptych, framed by master woodworker Joe Warnock, designed and painted by Peterson and dedicated to longtime Perry High School science teacher and avid reader Dick Ehlers, who died Nov. 24, 2015.
Shirley Ehlers, the wife of Dick, was on hand to admire the artwork and to thank Peterson and her and Dick’s many friends and well wishers for the honor to her husband.
A second artwork, newly dedicated Sunday, involved some 40 origami glass cranes taking flight above the library vestibule. The work was inspired by the 1977 novel by Eleanor Coerr, “Sadako and the Thousand Paper Cranes,” and dedicated to longtime library supporter and trustee Lorraine Winger, who died Sept. 25, 2018. Perry Public Library Director Mary Murphy thanked the local artists who collaborated on the mobile, Brad Kiefer, Doug and Mary Nichols and Jenny Eklund.
Ivan Winger, the husband of Lorraine, was on hand for the dedication along with his son, Eric Winger. Music, memories and longstanding friendships made the ceremony joyful.
The third artwork dedicated Sunday was the product of an even wider collaboration, this time among the many hands of the Perry Piecemakers Quilting Guild. Twenty-five quilting squares now hang on the walls of the library’s community meeting room, including nine on the east wall, seven on the north wall and nine on the west wall. The squares were created by and dedicated to the Perry Piecemakers.