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Laramie County Library System presents its Annual Book Arts Show this summer

Photo Credit: Laramie County Library System

“A book is a garden, an orchard, a storehouse, a party, a company by the way, a counselor, a multitude of counselors.” — Charles Baudelaire

There’s power in books. There’s power in words. There’s power in art. And from Wednesday, June 12 through Sunday, Aug. 18, the Laramie County Library System is presenting its annual Book Arts Show, which will feature all three.

“Making art is an adventure, full of twists and turns,” reads the invitation to this year’s Book Arts Show. “For this year’s annual LCLS Book Arts Show, University of Wyoming professor and coffee entrepreneur Kayla Clark welcomes artist-adventurers ranging from book artists to letterpress printers to writers to graphic designers. These artists from Wyoming and beyond showcase books in traditional and experimental formats, as well as typographically driven works that highlight the artist’s journey. Kayla Clark and LCLS are particularly excited to welcome ‘The Rule of St. Benedict,’ a 36-foot-long printed scroll by Mary Bruno that is making a special journey to be with us from Minnesota.”

Clark is curating the selections for this year’s art show for the second year in a row, bringing both knowledge and passion to a show that is bound to impress and inspire.

“Each curator has a two-year stint with the show,” said Jesse Dorst, the manager of Community & Media Relations for LCLS. “And then, after their stint is over, we ask them to recommend the next curator. Kayla Clark was recommended by Mark Ritchie, who was curator for the previous two years. We try to choose curators who have some feelers in the art community, in Cheyenne or in southeast Wyoming, in general.”

Clark is the perfect choice for this year’s show, which will feature several different types of book-themed art installations. She’s got a vast knowledge of both art and tomes, and she’s spent countless hours perfectly curating the pieces on display. The Book Arts Show is a chance for art and book enthusiasts to commiserate, communicate, and pontificate. More than anything, it will give them a chance to relate — to each other and to the pieces on display.

The highlight of the show may just be “The Rule of St. Benedict,” a 36 foot-long printed scroll created by Mary Bruno.

“One thing that makes this particular show special is the fact that we’re bringing in a special piece of art from Minnesota called ‘The Rule of St. Benedict,'” Dorst stated. “It’s a 36 foot-long scroll made from woodblock prints. It’s a really spectacular piece that’s going to be installed on the third floor of the library by the artist herself. She’s coming in to do a special installation for it, and it’s going to be a bit of a showstopper. We’re really excited to have that one here. It’s really a remarkable piece.”

What, exactly, makes it so spectacular?

“The scope of it for one thing,” Dorst laughed. “The length of it. And Mary has put together a special display table for it, so people can sort of take in the scroll all at once, rather than seeing a part of it and then moving along. It’s meticulously handcrafted with Linoblock prints. It’s really, very special.”

In fact, this entire show is special. The shows at Laramie County Library System are always special, but this show in particular is something that will make the hair on the back of one’s hand stand up. It’s a labor of love — for the artists, the curator and the staff of LCLS. It is a conglomeration of everything that is good, everything that is powerful, everything that is beautiful about books, about art and about the human experience. And it is a show that is not to be missed. Luckily, the show will be on display for the next two months.

“Cheyenne’s art scene is growing, and we’re really happy to be a part of that,” Dorst said. “We’re happy to be part of that growth. There aren’t as many public galleries that are doing independent art shows in town yet. So we’re really happy that we have the opportunity to do that — to reach out to the fine arts community through the Book Art show in particular and to present a program that is very much in line with the mission and ethos of the library, while also giving local and regional artists a chance to display their work in a free and open public forum.”

The Laramie County Library System Book Arts Show is happening from June 12 to Aug. 18. It is free and open to the public and is available to be observed during normal library hours.

“It’s really nice to be able to offer some really high-end, national-quality art free of charge,” Dorst stated. “Hopefully this will give our patrons a chance to come in and engage with something that they may not see elsewhere in their day-to-day life. This show, both in the current iteration and in other iterations, really challenges you to think about, ‘What is a book?’ And I don’t think there’s any better place to question what qualifies as a book than at the library.”

For more information, visit the Laramie County Library System website, and follow them on Facebook for daily updates.

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