When Michael Brown, a retired designer and Madison Avenue adman now living in Scarborough, suggested starting a group at the Scarborough Public Library for local artists, he said he saw it as a monthly thing – ” a group of light, scribbling sketches to have fun for a few hours, ”he said.
Three years and a pandemic later, the Library Sketching Group is still going strong, and four of the group members, including Brown, Debra LaPlante, Pat Scammon and John Girard, will exhibit and sell their work at the library this Saturday, July 24. .
“Art on the Lawn” will be held from 9 a.m. to 3 p.m. in four outdoor tents, each dedicated to one of the artists’ four works. Lucy Jackson Norvell, programming and communications coordinator, said the event is the first of its kind for the library. A similar exhibit had taken place inside the library from October 2020 until last month, when samples of the artists’ work were on display and offered for sale, with the proceeds going to the library.
Norvell said she wasn’t sure exactly how much money had been raised, she was more focused on the art being the product of a group connected to the library.
“We saw how the public reacted to the art,” she said.
Saturday’s event, she said, is not a fundraiser for the library, but will serve to promote the Library Sketching Group, while drawing public attention to this group and others. social groups based at the library.
“The community presence of what they do is really, really important to the library,” she said.
Brown said he first ventured into a formal art-related path by sketching airplanes during his tenure in the Air Force from 1958-62. Despite a long career in advertising in his own business in New York and as an assistant professor at the Maryland Institute College of Art, he is a humble man, quick to distract a talented journalist from his fellow artists.
The other artists also have professional backgrounds. LaPlante is a former kindergarten teacher, Scammon is a retired social worker, and Girard is a retired pediatrician.
The name of the group is a bit abusive, because the artwork is hardly limited to simple sketches. LaPlante, from Saco, said she works in collages, builds papier-mâché sculptures and also builds mobiles. Scammon works in a variety of mediums, from watercolor to acrylic.
“It feeds my soul, makes me happy,” Scammon said. “This is my happy place.”
Girard said he started drawing single-panel cartoons as a hobby and liked doing the actual designs digitally before producing prints.
“I think humor is a good medicine,” he said. “It’s a bit like writing a short story in one picture. “
The group is set to resume its monthly meetings on September 10 after being forced to cancel in-person meetings in March 2020 due to COVID-19. They are scheduled to meet from 10 a.m. to noon on the second Friday of each month in the library meeting room.
The digital world has become a lifeline for the group to stay united when the pandemic struck. At its peak, the group had 10 to 15 members, and although some could not keep in touch, Brown said many performers kept in touch via email, as they did before the lockdown.
“We would, whether there was a pandemic or not,” he said.
When asked if there would be more than four members returning to face-to-face meetings starting in September, Brown said, “I’m pretty sure there will be.”
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