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Mother’s Day open house at Burchfield Homestead features Little Library, Gallery dedications

Burchfield Homestead Society member and carpenter Ron Roberts, left, and award-winning artist Grant Menough stand near the new Little Free Library across the street from the Burchfield Homestead on East Fourth Street in Salem. Roberts built the structure and Menough recreated scenes from Charles Burchfield’s artwork on all sides of the Little Free Library. Salem Girl Scouts Troop 80774 thought up the Little Free Library project, which will be dedicated at noon Saturday as part of the museum’s Mother’s Day Open House from 11 a.m. to 4 p.m., honoring Burchfield’s mother Alice and mothers everywhere. (Submitted photo)

SALEM — Literacy and artistry will come together during a dedication at noon Saturday to celebrate a new Little Free Library and a Little Gallery on Burchfield Homestead lands on East Fourth Street.

The idea of “take a book, give a book” — the hallmark of Little Free Libraries everywhere — has been expanded to include art supplies at the separate Little Gallery, which is located in front of the Night Wind House across the alley from famed artist Charles Burchfield’s boyhood home.

The lot across the street from the Burchfield Homestead will be home to the new Little Free Library, which has been painted in the spirit of Charles Burchfield with re-creations of his art.

Burchfield, who grew up in the home that’s now a museum, graduated from Salem High School and went on to become an internationally-known artist whose works reflected his vision of his hometown and surroundings.

The dedications of the Little Gallery and Little Free Library will take place during the Burchfield Homestead Mother’s Day Open House from 11 a.m. to 4 p.m. as part of Salem Second Saturday.

The Little Free Library project was the result of an idea by Salem Girl Scouts Troop 80774, which was proposed to the Burchfield Homestead Society and then built upon by Burchfield board members with the addition of the Little Gallery.

The girl scouts designed a flower garden for the project and gathered books to place inside the wooden structure, which was crafted by carpenter and Burchfield board member Ron Roberts and painted by Salem High School senior and award-winning artist Grant Menough.

“It is wonderful to collaborate with Girl Scouts Troop 80774, local artist Grant Menough, board member and skilled carpenter Ron Roberts and members of the community to support literacy and artistic creativity through the Burchfield and its properties,” Burchfield Homestead Society President Sara Baer said.

There’s already a stash of art supplies ready to be placed in the Little Gallery during the week that people can take and hopefully donate more in return. Then on the weekends the museum is open, it will become a miniature museum itself. Artwork created by members of the community will be placed on display. Blank 4×4 canvasses can be picked up at the museum for a donation of $5, with the idea of the creations being returned for display.

“It’s just a way to foster creativity in the community,” Baer said.

She added there’s some artwork waiting to be displayed and lots of supplies donated.

“We’ve already had a wonderful response to it,” she said.

Troop leader Sephra Bender said the idea of the Little Free Library project was born after fellow Troop leader Melissa Kuttler and her daughter visited the Burchfield last year. They approached Baer, gathered a variety of books and the Girl Scouts planned and designed a flower garden that includes a pair of blueberry bushes around the Little Free Library.

“I think it’s a wonderful project. It provides easy access to books for the community. We just thought it was a good project,” Bender said.

Members of the troop include Allison Mincks, Lily Mincks, Audrey Beck, Emerson Kuttler, Leah Schmidt, Macie Brant and Sophia Bender.

Sephra said it’s been a fun project that the scouts really enjoyed.

“We hope the community enjoys it as well,” she said.

Roberts, who’s known for his carving skills, said he’s been doing more woodworking and when approached about building the Little Free Library was more than happy to do it.

“I’m glad to be able to help out the Burchfield,” he said, along with supporting artistic efforts in the community.

Menough said he was contacted a month ago and he looked at a bunch of Burchfield’s paintings and read interviews for inspiration. He decided to focus on the four seasons, with each side of the Little Free Library representing a different season. Burchfield focused a lot on seasonal imagery and nature.

“It was cool to try to recreate his work with a different medium,” Menough said.

Burchfield used watercolors, but Menough prefers oils. He also liked the challenge of a 3-D project and was real happy with the results. He plans to continue painting and plans to double major in art and business at Cleveland State next fall.

Both Roberts and Baer spoke highly of Menough’s skills as an artist, with Baer calling him “a unique talent.”

She said he’s a Burchfield fan and helped out as a voice actor for the Christmas video the Burchfield Homestead produced last year. She also said he’s a regular volunteer at the museum and already donated art supplies for the Little Gallery.

Besides the dedications, the Mother’s Day Open House will include complimentary cookies and lemonade in honor of the kindness once shown by Burchfield’s mother Alice to the Fourth Street neighborhood children. Attendees can also create their own Mother’s Day cards in the Night Wind House.

“We look forward to honoring the life and legacy of Alice Burchfield and your own dear mothers at our open house this Saturday,” Baer said.

A press release about the event said people who grew up in the neighborhood in the early 1900s remembered Alice Murphy Burchfield “as a loving mother, talented baker, and generous neighbor. Alice was known for leaving freshly baked cookies on a plate at the kitchen window for kids to retrieve as they walked home from school along the alley to the west side of the house. She was also known to share cookies with people who visited with her on the front porch.”

According to the press release, the Burchfield Homestead Society archives include “first-hand recollections of Alice and other members of the Burchfield family thanks to the interviews that Richard “Dick” Wootten conducted in the 1980s and 1990s. When Wootten moved to Salem in the 1980s, he put the knowledge and skills he gained as the Cleveland Press’s art critic to work by interviewing people who knew Charlie as a young man.”

The press release also noted “Wootten’s appreciation of Burchfield’s art and understanding of the importance Salem played in the watercolorist’s creativity was the driving force behind the formation of the Burchfield Homestead Society and its mission to preserve the home where Charles E. Burchfield grew up and experienced his Golden Year.”

mgreier@salemnews.net

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