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Posted on: October 15, 2018

Pop-up Libraries Debut in New Rochelle

Laura Heiss front

Earlier this summer Westchester County artists and designers were invited to submit their proposals to customize and embellish “Pop-Up Library” kiosks. The concept is simple: Take a book or leave a book. The goal is to promote literacy and the love of reading, and to build a sense of community, while also creating unique public art.

The six selected artists and their finished works will be introduced at a reception in the NRCA Rotunda Gallery in City Hall on Tuesday, October 16th at 6 pm. The public is invited to view the Pop-Up Library kiosks and meet the artists. The kiosks will be filled with donated books and erected at Feeney Park, Flowers Park, Hudson Park, Huguenot Park, Lincoln Park and Ward Acres near the “Paws Place” dog park.

In addition to the six kiosks Charles Fazzino has created a larger size version, incorporating a seating area, that will be installed at the Metro North train station, where he feels it will create an exciting visual impact while also providing a service to commuters, who will be able to pick up a book for their train travel.

Each of the finished kiosks reflects the artist’s own vision. For example, Laura Heiss says she fell in love with Old English Sheepdogs at a young age and has been blessed with a series of them, from Alice the Amazing to Winnie the Wicked, Cali the Cool and Rosie the Riveter ... the brightest and most opinionated of the four. Rosie, with her larger-than-life personality, was the inspiration for the design of Heiss’s “Little Library” which features a sheep dog on the front. She says the “milk bone meteor shower” and “raining dog biscuits” designs are frequent themes in her art work. (And obviously artist Red Grooms was also a source of inspiration with his wit and whimsy.)

New Rochelle’s Pop-Up Libraries project is a collaboration between the New Rochelle Council on the Arts, My Brother’s Keeper New Rochelle and the New Rochelle Public Library, working with internationally acclaimed artist Charles Fazzino and the New Rochelle Dept. of Parks and Recreation. The project is partially funded by ArtsWestchester.

The Pop-Up Library artists are:

Carol Bowen, a teacher of Visual Art at The Dalton School in Manhattan. She has been a member of the Middle and High Schools’ Art Department faculty since 1998, and served as Department chair from 1999-2001.  She has a B.A. in Studio Art from Mt. Holyoke College, an M.F.A., Concentration in Painting, from Tulane University, and a M.A.T. (Master of Arts in Teaching), Concentration in Arts Education, from Rhode Island College. Ms. Bowen‘s past art teaching experiences include the Rhode Island School of Design, Rhode Island College, Massachusetts College of Art, Art Institute of Boston, The Staten Island Children’s Museum and the American Museum of Natural History. Ms. Bowen has been a mosaic artist for the past ten years, studying with Luciana Notturni at The Mosaic Art School in Ravenna, Italy.  

Cristina Cerone,  a photographer who says “My Canon 60D EOS is my third eye now and is rarely off from around my neck.” She is the Vice President of Got Art?, Inc. which is a 501c3 organization curating exhibits as well as exhibiting her own work. She also teaches digital photography and photographs artwork for artists for their personal websites. Her commercial photography work includes portraits and party photography.

Alvin Clayton is a painter, model and restaurateur. After graduating from St. Mary’s University in Emmetsburg, MD Clayton began modeling with the Wilhelmina agency in New York, landing jobs with major fashion magazines like GQ, Vogue, Vanity Fair, Esquire, Glamour and Self. His work took him all over the world, and it was while living in Paris that he taught himself to paint. His biggest influence was Henri Matisse, whose paintings he studied intently —and whose bright color palette reminded him of Trinidad, his birthplace. Today his vivid paintings are featured on the walls of his own restaurant, Alvin & Friends in New Rochelle, as well as the homes of celebrity collectors. His paintings were recently featured in the film “The Best Man Holiday” directed by Malcolm Lee. He will have a one-man show at Iona College’s Brother Kenneth Chapman Gallery in January/February 2019.

Charles Fazzino, a graduate of the School of Visual Arts in New York City,  is one of the most popular and highly collected pop artists of all time. During his more-than-thirty years as a pop artist, he has inserted his unique, detailed, vibrant, and three-dimensional style of artwork into the very fabric of popular culture. Fazzino’s artworks are exhibited in hundreds of museums and galleries in more than 20 different countries. He has received many private and important commissions and has been selected as the official artist for festivals and events all over the world. Charles is often referred to as a pop culture historian because of the breadth of his work and the way it touches his collectors and captures the best parts of their contemporary lives. His legacy will mark him as part of the next generation of famous pop artists as he follows the paths originally forged by pop art pioneers such as Andy Warhol, Keith Haring, Red Grooms, and Roy Lichtenstein. Fazzino’s studio is located in New Rochelle, and he is a board member of the New Rochelle Council on the Arts.

Laura Heiss is the Director of Gallery at the Museum of Arts & Culture at New Rochelle High School. She was born and raised in New Rochelle where Hudson Park provided a childhood of adventure. “Swimming, building rafts, hide and go seek…..but best of all, an occasional art lesson in the gazebo overlooking Long Island Sound. I don't remember who she was, or why she was there, but the best day of my life was when that sweet old lady handed me a pad and pencil and showed me how to put it all down on paper.” Twenty years later Laura Heiss became an art teacher in the New Rochelle School District, starting out at her alma mater, Trinity School and ending the best 40 years of her life at Albert Leonard Middle School before becoming the director of the Museum of Art & Culture. Heiss holds a Bachelor’s degree in Fine and Studio Arts from the State University of New York at Cortland.

Aston LeMelle-Thomas is an illustrator, designer, and all-around creative artist based out of the greater New York City area. A graduate of New Rochelle High School, he received a Bachelor of Fine Arts in Illustration from the School of Visual Arts in 2013.  LeMelle-Thomas has described himself as a “fine art ninja” who attacks each project with “a sense of unbridled intensity and alarming precision.” In 2016 LeMelle-Thomas was selected from 26 entrants as the winner of the competition to create a mural for the North Avenue façade of the Dollar Tree store.

Stephanie Lombardo is a lifelong resident of New Rochelle who says she remembers when her Mom took her to the NRPL for her first library card. “It was a magical and inspirational experience,” she says, and her design – inspired by the children’s classic “Goodnight Moon” – is meant to “showcase the importance of reading at an early age, and how books create the foundation for success.” Ms. Lombardo is an educator who works with children who have autism and related disabilities. “Part of my job is to teach students how to read, and to help them develop their passion for reading.  I find it to be rewarding to see my students gain confidence, increase their reading abilities, and feel a sense of accomplishment after completing a book.” A graduate of the College of New Rochelle School of New Resources, Ms. Lombardo is a NYS certified Teacher Assistant. She was one of the artists selected for the NRNY Stacked Sculptures, and her work was recently displayed at the Pelham Art Center Faculty and Student Show.

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