Friday, October 13, 2017

Libraries highlight work from local artists by Elizabeth Richards

Community members can find more than a good book at the libraries in Windham and Raymond. Visitors can also enjoy exhibits of artwork by local artists in each locale. Through the month of October, the Windham library has paintings by Windham resident Josh Emerson on display, while the Raymond Village Library is displaying the work of Gray photographer Jesse MacDonald.

Artists are selected in a variety of ways, including recommendation, past experience with an artist, or the artist reaching out to the libraries. Sally Bannen, Technical Services Librarian at the Windham Public Library says, “While I prefer to have fresh faces in order to give a wider opportunity to as many artists as possible, I have allowed past artists to display again if they ask and the schedule permits. Our current artist, Josh Emerson, was recommended to the library and we have been pleased to give him the chance to display his artwork with the community.”

Emerson’s work has been on display since August, and all displays are scheduled in three-month time slots. Displaying and highlighting the work of local artists is important, because the library is a place for all community members, said Library Director Jennifer Alvino. “The library belongs to the community and by opening our space to this kind of display it shows that we are much more than a place for just books. We are a community space and offer all kinds of services and opportunities for the community to come together to educate themselves and find entertainment,” Alvino said.

Emerson said he began painting 20 years ago when he was in college at ASU (Appalachian State University) in North Carolina, where he received a BFA in fine arts. He paints every winter, he said, but while he exhibited on a regular basis until 2008, now he mostly paints for himself. He said he enjoys getting art out into the community, and is excited to see Windham increasing this effort through the library and other venues. is a digital photographer, with the majority of his work focused on landscapes and scenery, which he has been shooting for approximately seven years. Recently, he has also begun to work on portrait and studio photography.  

When he was younger, MacDonald said, he enjoyed taking pictures while travelling with his family. On vacations, he’d use a phone or pocket sized digital camera, and although the photos weren’t top quality, he enjoyed bringing home photographic memories instead of knick-knacks from a souvenir shop, he said.  As he got older, he purchased a higher quality camera and taught himself, through reading articles and blogs and video tutorials online. His only formal photography training is an Introduction to Digital Photography class he took as an elective in college.

“It's exciting to see my artwork on display. Sometimes it feels a little unreal, I never thought of myself as an artist growing up,” MacDonald said. “I've always enjoyed sharing my experiences and images with my friends and family, but it's just as exciting to share them with the rest of the community.”  

Emerson’s work has been shown in Raymond once before, and at a few local small businesses as well. “I've always been fortunate enough to get great feedback from my showings. It's nice to make a sale or two during a showing, but the words of encouragement and positive feedback from those who see my work really keep me going and encourage me to continue doing what I do,” he said.

MacDonald has an online gallery at and his work can also be found on Facebook at Jesse MacDonald Photography.

The work of both Emerson and MacDonald will be on display until the end of October.

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