Dog-eared library cards have gone the way of the fountain pens - possibly kept for sentimental reasons but probably relegated to the back of your sock drawer. The staff at D.R. Evarts has been handing out the new key ring library cards left and right. Didn't get yours yet? Stop by and pick one up and join the community of D.R. Evarts as a library member in good standing.
Does anyone not recognize that set of white ear buds attached to a set of white wires that trail off into a hidden pocket? It's music, music, music - for a trip, for a jog, for a workout. But maybe you're a bit tired of all that music and are looking for something new to replace that repetitive list of "hit" singles. How about a great story?? Remember how you loved having stories read to you?? Your library is prepared to help you download many of the new best sellers and older classics on to your "walking around" devices for a bit of modern storytelling. What a great way to pass time in the gym, make a walk more interesting or save you from the boredom of long air and train trips. In addition, you'll have a timely answer when you're asked, "So, what good books have you read lately?" Best-selling author Debbie Macomber admits she's able to answer that question because audio books help her deal with dyslexia that makes traditional "reading" so difficult. Take a look under "Audio Books" on the library's website to find all the directions you need. If you need help, please stop by and the staff will be happy to assist you.
Who are the two children whose portraits are displayed in the main reading room of the D.R. Evarts Library? It was always known that the portrait over the Circulation Desk was Daniel Redfield Evarts whose bequest made possible the construction of the library in 1907 and for whom the library was named, so it was assumed these were the children of Evarts and his wife Elizabeth Woodward Evarts. However, nothing was known definitively about the children or the paintings until recently when old records found in the library combined with information supplied by art dealer Mark LaSalle solved some of the mysteries surrounding these portraits.
The larger of the two paintings in the main reading/computer room is the Evarts' son Daniel Woodward Evarts who passed away in 1868 just after his third birthday and the painting over the fireplace is their daughter Mary Elizabeth Evarts who passed away in 1879 just shy of her sixteenth birthday.
According to Mr. LaSalle, there is evidence in both paintings that they were painted after the death of each subject. Apparently it was not uncommon in Victorian times after the development of photographic techniques to memorialize a love-one by having a portrait painted after death using photographs taken during the subject's lifetime. Since photographs are only two dimensional, there was usually a certain flatness of features in portraits done using this technique. In Daniel's portrait, it appears that the red scarf is being used to connect his head to his body indicating the possibility that most of the painting was done before Daniel died and then his facial features were added later from photographs taken during his lifetime. Symbolically, he is dressed for winter, the season associated with death, and the open door indicates that he is about to leave. Mary's portrait over the fireplace has a certain flatness of features especially around her hands and head indicating the artist copied from a two dimensional photograph rather from an actual posing by the subject.
Information about the artists who did the portraits is rather sketchy. The portrait of D. R. Evarts that hangs over the Circulation Desk was done by an unknown artist and there are no clues as to his/her identity. Mary's painting was done by a well-known 19th century artist named George Allen Rudd who lived the last years of his life in Europe and who reportedly went missing while climbing in the Alps in 1888. The identity of Daniel's painter is unknown but there are some clues. What can be seen is a signature that looks like the script form of the capital letter M with the capital letter D attached to it and a small c inside the capital D. Perhaps his last name began with McD....
Obviously some of the mysteries remain.
The Athens Book Group is starting 2013 off with a number of very interesting books.
The Book Group selections for the coming months are:April 29, 2013 -The Curious Incident of the Dog in the Nighttime by Mark Haddon
Christopher John Francis Boone knows all the countries of the world and their capitals and every prime number up to 7,057 He relates well to animals but has no understanding of human emotions. He cannot stand to be touched. And he detests the color yellow. This improbable story of Christopher's quest to investigate the suspicious death of a neighborhood dog makes for a most captivating novel.May 20, 2013 -The Light Between Oceans by M.L. Stedman
This book takes place on a small island half a day's journey from the coast of Western Australia shortly after World War I. When a lighthouse keeper and his wife find a baby in a boat that washes up on the shore of the island, they decide to keep the child. This is a book about their decisions and the consequences of those decisions as well as the relationships between the various characters. Once again this is “our” book-in-the-bag, so we will be developing questions.June 24, 2013 The Art of Racing in the Rain by Garth Stein
The narrator of the novel is Enzo – a lab-terrier mix awaiting the end of his life as a dog so he can be reincarnated as a man, an idea he got from a documentary he watched. Enzo spends his last moments alive reminiscing about his life with his master Denny Swift. The book follows these memories as he narrates the triumphs and tragedies of Denny's family during his many years with them.July 29, 2013 A Violet Season by Kathy Leonard Czepiel
The violet industry is booming in 1898, and a Hudson Valley farm owned by the Fletcher family is turning a generous profit for its two oldest brothers. But Ida Fletcher, married to the black sheep youngest brother, has taken up wet-nursing in order to help her family, and her daughter, Alice, has been ordered by her father to leave school and find work or marry. As their family is about to lose their share of the farm, Ida and Alice make increasingly great sacrifices that set them against each other in a lifelong struggle for honesty and forgiveness. The story is framed by an amateur historian’s 1972 interview with Alice, whose redemption will come only with her willingness to break a silence of more than seventy years and recognize her mother’s courage in the face of a changing world.August 26, 2013 An Arsonist’s Guide to Writers’ Homes in New England by Brock Clarke A lot of remarkable things have happened to Sam Pulsifer beginning with the ten years he spent in prison for accidentally burning down Emily Dickinson's house and unwittingly killing two people. Emerging at the age of 28, he creates a new life as a husband and father. But when the homes of other famous writers go up in smoke, he must prove his innocence by uncovering the identity of this literary-minded arsonist. The Athens Book Group meets in the basement of the D.R. Evarts Library on the last Monday of every month from 6:30-8pm. We encourage you to join us for an evening of good company and lively discussion.