Local librarian brings art to the masses

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BURRILLVILLE – Candace Ranslow, a librarian at Jesse M. Smith Memorial Library, knows that not everyone can paint a massive mural depicting a famous Van Gogh painting without a little help.

Ranslow, a ten-year employee at the Pinkham Lane facility, also knows that classes and exposure to art don’t come cheap, leaving would-be amateurs few means to explore the craft.

She’s using her fine arts background to make such endeavors more accessible to the public. In a series of community art projects, participants contribute to larger pieces by painting a single square.

Ranslow draws the pictures on a large canvass, and cuts the artwork into 20-24 pieces. She recently assembled a picture of the library – now hanging in the building’s new Champlin Room – in celebration of the facility’s 10-year anniversary.

“We’re always looking for something to integrate into a community project and that’s why we started the murals,” said Ranslow. “Quite a few people can get involved.”

Previously, her group worked on a recreation of Van Gogh’s sunflowers.

“That one was a little more difficult,” she said.

Ranslow has also brought her art outreach program to places outside the library, including Ashton Court and Stillwater Heights housing complexes. Some of her pieces hang in the Cumberland Public Library, where she has also worked.

Working with Assistant Director Lori DeCesare, Ranslow runs monthly adult art programs on Saturdays, creating projects such as rock painting, or making paper hats.

A group of aspiring artists works on one of Ranslow’s creations.

“Library Rocks is the theme for summer,” said DeCesare. “We’re trying to use the geology and music theme.”

For Ranslow, it’s an opportunity to bring her passion for art to the community she serves.

“It’s hard to find places to practice and learn art that don’t cost a fortune,” she said. “I just enjoy being able to share the art with everyone.”