“Easter Realness #2,” oil on canvas by Kehinde Wiley is on display at the Oak Park Public Library. (Photo provided by Oak Park Public Library)
Kehinde Wiley. Barack Obama, 2018. Oil on canvas. National Portrait Gallery, Smithsonian Institution. The National Portrait Gallery is grateful to the following lead donors for their support of the Obama portraits: Kate Capshaw and Steven Spielberg; Judith Kern and Kent Whealy; Tommie L.Pegues and Donald A. Capoccia. © 2018 Kehinde Wiley. Courtesy of the Smithsonian’s National Portrait Gallery.

It was with pleasure that I was reminded of the efforts and success of the Library Art Selection Committee in Wednesday Journal’s Artbeat [Obama’s portraitist also has work in Oak Park library, June 23] by Michelle Dybal. I would like to add to this tribute:

The library’s permanent collection was selected painstakingly by the volunteer committee that included:

 Ed Byers, former executive director, and Janet Kelenson, former library board member; Aaron Skoog, an employee; Oak Park Area Arts Council Executive Director Camille Wilson White and Charity Piet Miska, her former assistant; community members Frank Pond, a longtime FLW docent, and Sandy Meade, an interior designer, who is now deceased.

The notable artists the committee pursued included: Chris Ware, Judy Ledgerwood, Barry Tinsley, Jon Loving, Jacob Hashimoto, Tia Etu’, Nancy Fong, Jonathan Franklin, Jeanine Guncheon, Higgins Glass Studios, and Weeks Ringle.

They commissioned David Gustin, who painted the large piece in the Veterans Room. Committee members were able to visit his studio and view the work in progress.

Since the library was under construction in 2002 and 2003, the committee improvised its meeting places, often at Frank Pond’s home, the former Pep Boys building on Harlem in Forest Park, which was the library’s temporary home, or Oak Park Village Hall. It was a labor of love over 2-3 years.  

So wonderful to see the selection and recognition of Kehinde Wiley, not only of his Obama portrait, but “Easter Realness,” on permanent display at the Oak Park Main Branch Library.

Cynthia Breunlin, Oak Park

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