The first room leading into the Carnegie Gallery from the main library displaying various works from the Riches of Reading show. Credit | Oliver Boch | Lantern Reporter 

The Columbus Metropolitan Library’s Carnegie Gallery hosts various shows that contribute to the library’s goal of accessible knowledge and art, and until April 26, the exhibition “Riches of Reading” will be displayed.

The show’s conception started in 2018 with Mark Ramsey, the president of the John Behling Watercolor Society, whose charter states that it hosts at least one public show per year. As the only criteria for being part of the show, each of the pieces were inspired by a piece of literature in some way.

“We didn’t specify any theme for the artwork itself so everybody that painted and contributed was free to choose their own subject matter and formatting style,” Ramsey said. This allowed the exhibition to take on “a wide distribution of perspective and talent and choices of themes, which makes the whole show really diverse.”

Of the 20 member artists of the Watercolor Society, the 12 chosen contributed 59 paintings to the space. Ramsey said this is different from what might be seen at a standard single artist gallery show.

The Watercolor Society began in 2004 when John Behling was the instructor of watercolor classes at the Civilization Gallery, which used to be located in the Short North. A few of the students from those classes evolved into a club which eventually became the society.

Stephanie Rond, the founder of the Carnegie Gallery and a curator with Friends of the Library — an organization within the library that runs programs and resources within the various branches, helped to put together the show from its first conception.

“The whole idea behind [the gallery] is that visual literacy leads to text literacy. For me, personally, it’s about accessibility. Not everyone feels comfortable walking into museums and galleries, and so a part of what we want to do is bring art to everyone,” Rond said.

Shows held in the Carnegie Gallery mirror that vision that libraries are a comfortable space in which all people can feel welcome and have the opportunity to be exposed to other conversations.

“A lot of times, visual art can be a platform for larger discussions, and so that’s what we’re hoping to bring to our patrons,” Rond said.

Friends of the Library has also aimed to support local businesses, a sentiment that is largely shared by other galleries in the area, Rond said.

“We like to partner with other nonprofits and what we want to do is serve as a satellite for their venues,” Rond said. “We like to have a place to not only elevate artists, but elevate our nonprofits in the city.”

Riches of Reading will be available to view until April 26 in the Carnegie Gallery on the second floor of the Columbus Metropolitan Library on Grant Avenue during regular library hours.