Public Libraries, a gift to the community

2019 Winner of the Record Award Roots

It’s National Library week and I am so proud of our library system and their diversified programming. This week they have outdone themselves with a myriad of activities for the entire family .

Live music by Greg Balfany and Friends welcomed community members to the library’s kickoff reception to the first day of Library Week and to what it hopes is just its first annual art competition.

Luke Thering, Karyn Quinn and Greg Balfany

Kudos to Jennifer Williams on the library board who lent her art perspective and ideas for community members to participate in creating art to add to the “Libraries are for Everyone” canvases outside the Main Street Library.

In collaboration with the Library Board, Dick Record who’s on the La Crosse Arts Board generously sponsored the Record Award and its first annual winner which was unveiled from the 18 entries. The winning mixed media artwork Roots was destined to be the best entry encapsulating inclusivity, diversity and the power of the arts. Roots was created by Mai Chao Duddeck, a visual artist who also works as an equity adviser/recruiter at UW-La Crosse. Her entry will be the first canvas to don the south facing entry to the main Public Library and will remain in place there for three years.

Ms. Duddeck was awarded a $1000 check for which she shared her appreciation and a few words after a moment to recognize the Ho Chunk land on which we were standing.

Mai Chao Duddeck receiving her award is flanked by Jennifer Williams and Dick Record

The winning artist and social justice activist also spoke of Roots’s symbolism and her dual identity as a modern young Hmong American woman and mother and the role her ancestry has in her identity and raising her family in our midwestern community. She hopes her art will bridge the different communities within La Crosse and be a welcoming force to all those who visit the main library.

In addition to the main award a ‘People’s Choice Award’ of $250 will also be chosen from 11 of the entries on display. One can vote more than once for your favorites during this week. Below is a glimpse of those 11. Beside each entry is also a short artist bio and description of their art to help you make your decision before casting your vote.

If you’re in downtown La Crosse , do stop by the Main Street Library.

Stay tuned for a sweet treat tomorrow with local baker extraordinaire, Jen Barney who was the winner of the Food Network’s National Bakeoff.

I appreciate your patience as I learn my way around this new blog space and add entries both new and old… Trust me, it’s a big learning curve.

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