The Marilyn Citron O’Rourke Art Gallery, at the Benicia Public Library, is open.

In the midst of so many pandemic-imposed closures, it is a welcome relief to hear about and see re-openings, wherever they occur…especially when it’s something that can inspire and soothe the soul, and share the commonalities of our humanity.

The Art Gallery Advisory Committee at the Library, a sub-committee of the Library Board of Trustees, is pleased to announce the opening exhibit, East meets West. A mixed media show by artists Diane Williams, Merry Gregg, and Stephanie Gray, the exhibit will be on display through the end of the year.

Once a year the Art Gallery Committee welcomes proposals for exhibitions of original artwork by local and regional artists.

A call for artists is issued in June, the exhibits are chosen by November, with the first show of the year in January. Subject to available space and schedule, eight to ten exhibits are presented each year, highlighting a wide variety of art. Committee members are assigned to the artists to serve as liaisons. In 2019, the Art Gallery Committee changed things up a bit by choosing to feature an invited artist to exhibit in the gallery in 2020. Michael S. Moore, a highly acclaimed and esteemed artist, was invited. The first two shows of the year, Benicia High School, and Lee Wilder Snider,  were highly successful, with Moore’s show, “Further Afield” scheduled to open next, on March 17th, 2020. The extraordinary exhibit was in place, ready for viewing. On the eve of the show’s opening, shelter in place orders, due to COVID, were disseminated…Bay Area Public Libraries closed. Little did we know at the time, it would be a long 19 months before the Art Gallery would open back up. But with foresight and resolve, Kathryn Weller Renfrow, a longtime member of the Art Gallery Committee, the liaison for Moore’s show, and the curator, was determined to have this exhibit chronicled. Kathryn acquired the services of well known videographer John Beck to produce a video of Moore’s show. Narrated by the artist, it was posted on the Library’s website until recently, and can now  be viewed on Benicia Library’s YouTube channel, @benicialibrary, “Further Afield”–Michael S. Moore Exhibit at the Benicia Public Library 2020. The artwork is stunning, and the filming of it is splendid!

To the delight of the Art Gallery Committee, the remaining artists whose shows were scheduled for 2020, and had to be cancelled, have all agreed to reschedule, beginning with the current show now on display.

The exhibits are scheduled through the end of  2022. On the Library’s website, show dates for each artist will be posted. Exhibits will include works from Linda Wong and Melinda DiSessa, Donna Fenstermaker and Susan Ashley, Joanne Tauffer and the Bay Area Studio Artists, Nikki Basch-Davis, Mark Eanes, Connie Millholland and Cynde Kaye, and Michael Moore. It promises to be a compelling year of exhibits, especially given the circumstances of the last 19 months. The current show, East meets West, is just right for the re-opening of the gallery. Grabbing your attention the moment you enter, this engaging show invites you in and opens your eyes. Don’t miss it!

Library Gallery Hours: Monday-Thursday: 10:00 am – 9:00 pm

Friday-Sunday: 12:00 – 6:00 pm

Jasper Johns: “I don’t know if art can be understood in any final way, but a search for understanding tends to open one’s eyes rather than close them.”