Walls of South Brunswick Library serve as canvas for community murals


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SOUTH BRUNSWICK – The walls of the South Brunswick Library look a little bit brighter thanks to community murals that adorn the interior of the Food for Thought Café.

Six library patrons assembled the newest addition on Aug. 12, which was based on Isa Genzken’s 2001 architectural piece. Barbara Battles, the head of Outreach Services for the library, asked amateur and professional artists of all ages to submit 11-inch by 17-inch original artwork based on architecture.

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Seven artists contributed 11 images, including local historians Art and Barb Lee; historian Ed Belding, who provided four pictures; staff member Viji Savithri, who took a picture of the Eiffel Tower in France; Simanti Chatterjee, who provided a picture of the Eiffel Tower at night and added silver paint to her representation of the Taj Mahal during Holi; Pat Dahl; and Nahul Shanmugam.

Battles photocopied the pieces, then cut them to assemble one large “Build a Better World” mural on foam board.

“It’s a bit of serendipity. I do what I get and I get what I do,” she said. “There are various levels of talent but when it comes together, it looks pretty good.”

Battles received her Bachelor of Fine Arts from Syracuse University, focusing on interior design. The mural project was inspired by an assignment she was given her freshman year: to take a small image, enlarge it and create one master piece.

She looks for creative means of expression at the library, especially when related to summer reading themes.

“Art makes sense because you do it alone but then it comes together,” she said. “I try to find something that has an interest for every square.”

There is a mix of colored pencils, crayons, paint, pastels, fabric quilts, yarn and 3D objects adorning each of the murals.

On one wall, an interpretation of LeRoy Neiman’s “American Gold” from 1984 was reinvigorated in 2016, a collection of 16 artists’ squares based on Olympic sports.

A Dutch floral still-life is on another wall, featuring colorful flowers, plants and bees, based on the 2014 theme of “Literary Elements.”

A large, eight-foot by 12-foot mural is in the corner of the library, based on the 2013 summer reading theme “Ground Breaking Reads.” Based on Leon Bibel’s “The Driller” from 1930, the mural depicts a driller with a jackhammer.

Twenty-five people contributed individual artwork to create the canvas based on South Brunswick resident and WPA artist Bibel – who was friends with fellow resident and artist George Segal. One artist incorporated Bibel’s original image, adding color; another used sequins to adorn her 24-inch by 36-inch paper; a quilter used fabric; and someone included his own self portrait.

There was also one mural that was removed, based on Van Gogh’s “Bedroom in Arles,” called “Between the Covers.” Battles said this particular piece included sunflowers and a wooden frame.

“It’s a lot of fun because people can come and say, ‘I did that part,'” Battles said.

For 2018, Battles said she would like to focus on a space theme.

The Friends of the South Brunswick Library assist with any necessary funding.

Contact Jennifer Amato at jamato@newspapermediagroup.com.



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