Young artist’s sketch celebrates a decade at Jesse Smith

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BURRILLVILLE – A Burrillville High School student’s sketch of Jesse Smith Memorial Library has been featured on bookmarks and totes celebrating facility’s 10th anniversary, and has evolved into a fundraiser for the popular community building.

Angelina Allard’s depiction of the 25,000-square-foot library, opened in 2008, was initially thought of as one more small way to acknowledge the landmark birthday.

“They were trying to find an idea for the ten year anniversary and they knew I had an interest in art,” said Allard. “I took my notebook out front and drew a picture of the library.”

“They loved it so much they turned it into bookmarks and totes,” she said. “It was supposed to be a small thing and it turned into a big thing.”

The library, once part of the Stillwater Mill Complex, was the first target of a revitalization project that has since been hailed as a major success for the town. Construction of the two-story building was financed with the help of a $5 million dollar bond approved by voters in 2004.

Soon after, the historic mill’s clock tower building was renovated into 47 housing units, which was followed by creation of the Stillwater Mill Pavilion, now home to the town’s weekend farmer’s markets. The project won a Grow Smart Award in 2012.

“This used to be all mills,” explained library director Beth Ullucci. “It was a blight on the town.”

Events throughout the month of April acknowledged the landmark building’s first decade, and will continue throughout the year in smaller ways, such as handing out the bookmarks with Allard’s design.

The self-taught artist said it took her just a half hour to plan the detailed sketch.

“Ever since I was little I would draw, so now it comes easy to me,” she said.

The drawing was initially only set to be featured on the bookmarks, but the group was impressed by the 14-year-old’s work, and they asked Allard if she was comfortable with putting it on bags.

“I thought that was amazing,” she said. “This is my first published artwork.”

Allard’s skill was developed with the help of a parent who also has a knack for art. Her mother, librarian Candace Ranslow, has a fine art degree and runs the facility’s adult art program.

“She was an artist back when I was little, and she always had the materials for art, so I kind of took after her,” Allard said.

The young artist said she does not intend to turn the skill into a career.

“Art is just a hobby for me,” Allard said. “It’s just something I do to translate my emotions onto paper.”

Friends of Jesse Smith Library is selling the totes as a fundraiser. The bags cost $3 and are available at the front desk.