Works by central Ohio artists soon will be added to the Bexley Public Library's circulating collection.

The library, 2411 E. Main St., is inviting Franklin County residents to submit original artwork, paintings, prints, photographs and mixed-media pieces to be included in the first Bexley Art Library.

Librarian Leann Schneider said she proposed the idea to director Ben Heckman based on a circulating art program at the Akron-Summit County Public Library.

"My background is in art history and public museum work. As such, I'm very conscious of the power and importance of art in our everyday lives and I also recognize that experiencing art -- especially privately purchasing art -- is often inaccessible for much of the public," Schneider said. "By creating the Bexley Art Library, patrons will be able to have the experience of bringing home a high-quality original work of art and have the opportunity to connect with living artists here in the community."

Launching the Bexley Art Library is consistent with the Bexley library's mission of making works of art in various media accessible to the community, Heckman said.

"We knew this opportunity would be a wonderful addition for Bexley, a community that enthusiastically supports the arts," he said. "At the library we strive to break down barriers to access, and the creation of the Bexley Art Library will provide our patrons with the ability to check out original artworks, much like a book."

Fifteen art pieces will be chosen through a juried selection process. Jury members include Heckman and adult-services librarian Debbie Branigan, who will serve as the Bexley Art Library coordinator. The jury also will include Corey Favor, Columbus Creative Control Fest co-founder; David Gentilini, director of Capital University's Schumacher Gallery; Lyn Logan-Grimes, King Arts Complex education and cultural-arts director; and Cat Sheridan, director of the Ohio Arts Council's Riffe Gallery in Columbus.

Each of the 15 artists whose work is selected will be paid a $400 purchase fee for permanent placement in the Bexley Art Library. Heckman said the program is funded by grants from the Ohio Arts Council, the State Library of Ohio and the Bexley Community Foundation.

To apply, fill out the online submission form at bexleylibrary.org by March 27. Heckman said an exhibit of the 15 works selected will be featured in July, with the opening date to be announced.

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