Inside the Prescott Public Library is an eclectic collection of art work, most of which has been donated to the library by the community. You never know what you’re going to find around the corner, on a wall over your head or hidden in a hallway. Let’s take a quick tour.
As you approach the library from the Courthouse Plaza on Goodwin Street, a very large bike rack shaped like a rattlesnake greets drivers as they head up the hill. This was designed and built by Mark Riemer. The ribbon cutting ceremony took place on April 12, 2012.
As you make your way towards the main entrance, the timeline of the world is beneath your feet. The beginning of time starts at the west side of the building and the timeline walks you through human history to the last part of the twentieth century on the east side. The timeline was created by artist Fran Wildman. If you have time while you’re in Prescott, you can see the Yavapai County timeline on the sidewalk on the north side of Courthouse Square. Detailed timeline booklets are available in the library for $1.
As you approach the library’s Goodwin Street entrance, look to the left and you will see a life-size bronze mountain lion lounging on the wall, looking out over Goodwin Street and guarding the wall surrounding the library courtyard. Jesse Homoki was commissioned by the Friends of the Prescott Public Library to create the mountain lion, thanks to a donation from Dezi Lerner, and it was installed on March 10, 2008.
Seated outside our main entrance on Goodwin Street is a larger-than-life-size bronze horned lizard created by sculptor Heather Johnson Beary, Titled “Library Lizard,” the sculpture was commissioned by the Friends of the Prescott Public Library. “Library Lizard” is accompanied by a small sleeping cat, a butterfly and a ladybug at her side, but you have to look very close to find them.
Once you enter the library and head left past the Café Libre, you find the door to the courtyard. Within is a sculpture of an avid reader, a bronze girl seated on a bench and engrossed in a book. This sculpture, “Booked for the Day,” is by artist Dan Hill and was donated by Seymour Petrovsky.
Above the Goodwin Street entrance doors, there is a three-piece wood carving of ravens and a nest, called “New Beginnings.” These were presented to the library as a gift of the artist, Bill Neely. Bill Neely also carved “Gambels’s Quail and Family,” which is found above the Wall of Honor on the main level.
To the right of the Goodwin Street entrance as you enter, there is a hand-carved mahogany bench. The back depicts two horses meeting nose-to-nose, in the middle. It was created by local artist Connie Foss, whose entire family has dedicated their lives to horses or animals of some form.
You can sit on the bench and read or admire the other artwork, such as the ravens above, or the Katsinam to your right. Each Katsina has a small description by its side. The current collection of 29 Katsinam was donated to the library by Gardner Single and Ed Long, with additional donations from Francine Garner. Bill Neely donated hundred of hours on expert restoration work, and Jerry Paris designed, built and donated the cases.
Just across from the small study room, the Valentine Room, the historic painting “The Walker Party” by well-known western artist, George Phippen, resides on the wall. A group of men led by mountain man Joe Reddeford Walker came to the Prescott area in search of gold, and this painting portrays this historic occasion. Finished in time for Prescott’s Centennial in 1964, it was presented to the library by Dr. David Rummel and his family.
Above the water fountain and near the elevator are two Yaqui and Mayo Pascola masks. Both masks use horsehair for beards, mustaches,and eyebrows, some with spectacular amounts of hair. Several ceremonies of the Yaqui and the Mayo Indians of Arizona and Sonora, Mexico represent a tradition that dates back to the early 17th century. These masks were presented to the Prescott-Caborca Sister City Committee in recognition of the committee’s support of El Templo Viejo and the 200 year anniversary of this church in our Sister City, Caborca, Sonora, Mexico.
At the entrance of the North Reading Room, there is a small version of the sculpture of Bucky O’Neill that is located on the Courthouse square. This large sculpture was originally designed by Solon Borglum in 1907, and the smaller library version was replicated by Jack Oamer in 1981.
In the North Reading Room, there are many oriental hanging pieces by Kate Rinzler, who died in Prescott in 2010. Some are batiks and hang in the windows, Rinzler’s prints from batiks are displayed on the east wall.
As you look past the public computers to the south in the center of the main level, you will find two Kate Cory paintings, one titled “Indian Corn Ceremony” and the other called “Hopi Carding Wool.” Kate Cory was another local artist who became a good friend of Sharlot Hall, and the two friends are now buried side by side.
Be sure to see the mural outside the South entrance, which starts at the east side of the library lawn, continues under the stairs that lead to the upper level parking lot and around the corner to the alley that leads from the automated book drop driveway. The mural’s theme is “Beyond Words” and it starts with the history of words, includes highlights of the history of Prescott and ends with a glimpse into the future. The project directors were R.E. Wall and Maggie Dewar (also known as the Mural Mice). With help from 800 community members, they created the mural, starting painting it in 2008 and continued throughout the summer of 2009. “Beyond Words” celebrates the passage of free knowledge to the public.
There are over 130 pieces of art in the library. Come and see the artwork in the treasure trove that is Prescott Public Library, Prescott’s Living Room. For more information, call the Ask a Librarian Desk at 928.777.1526.