Throwback Thursday!

As you continue to explore our Summer Reading theme, A Universe of Stories, we encourage you to navigate your rocket ship to the nearest wormhole or crack in the space/time continuum and trek back to 1956!  

There you'll find our then temporary headquarters on Merriam Drive. We're talking way before Monticello and long before Lenexa City Center Library! Does history repeat itself? That poster those children are gathered around sure seems to say so! The Summer Reading theme in 1956? Your Ticket to the Moon! is your place for Johnson County, Kansas history! Follow our hashtag on Twitter.     

Moo then Boo!

No matter what you consider to be a great costume—even if it's dressing up as cows like these Shawnee Mission Rural High School kids in 1938—it's never too early to start thinking about that Halloween costume. 

Remember, is the place to time travel through local history. Be sure to follow our hashtag on Twitter!

Now @ Leawood: Cynthia Chandler

Wednesday, May 1 to Wednesday, August 21, 2019

Art is fun—even when Life isn’t.  I like to make things. I enjoy life and believe in art that entertains, delights the eye and engages the mind.  My work involves nature, family or a sense of place that is infused with a playful spirit.  I try to produce my impressions of  life that I find entertaining and worthy of a closer look and appreciation. I enjoy painting in oil on canvas as well as working in mixed media using  fabrics and other items I have saved or discovered.


I work to capture moments in everyday life.  My work frequently shines  a light on unsung heroes whose work—whether raising offspring,  farming, doing chores inside or outside—has dignity and is deserving of respect. Their work may have been a meditation while creating,  done to serve a purpose, practice a skill, or just something to fill  time productively.


I seek to recall the memory of those who came before us while also adding my own interpretation…and remembering not to take things  too seriously.  Often items I use are either from my own childhood or culled from shopping flea markets, antique stores or garage sales.

I hope you enjoy viewing my art. I  certainly enjoyed making it.


Enjoy this exhibition through August 21.


Introduce yourself.  How long have you been a painter?


I’ve been an artist as long as I can remember.  I grew up taking art classes at The Mulvane Center for Art at Washburn  University in Topeka.  In school I always enrolled in art classes when they were offered as electives. At The University of Kansas I earned a Bachelor of  Art Education, which allowed me to take a wide variety of art classes from silversmithing​ to textile printing and of course, drawing and painting. 


When I was unable to find a teaching job when I graduated, I submitted my portfolio to Hallmark Cards International here in Kansas City.  I was lucky enough to be hired and went to work for Hallmark eventually advancing to the  Book and Calendar department.


What would you like people to know about the work on display at the Leawood Library?


I enjoy painting in oils and especially like to paint animals or people with eyes looking back at me.  Painting can be  lonely at times and I think having your subject gazing back at you helps keep you engaged.  There are so many  amazing animals in the world. I continue to explore animals we here in the midwest may not see outside of a zoo. There are four animal paintings at the Leawood Library (an elephant, pigs, fish and sloths), although only the sloth painting of the mother holding her baby is in oil.  The other three are archival prints of the original paintings which I 

have sold. 


I love reading and am so grateful to have some of my work on display at the library. Naturally, I had to do a painting of children reading a book (“The New Book”) hiding out under a table. The two panel painting of the family with the  piggy bank (“Saving $ = Family Fun”) was an experiment combining acrylic paint and vintage fabric from the 40’s and 50’s in keeping with this particular style of illustration. “Julia Cooks” represents Julia Child and her joyful attitude to creating in the kitchen. “Packing Nightmare” is a feeling everyone who travels has had at some time or other—either  when getting ready to go somewhere and not knowing what to pack, or when having to come back from a vacation  and not really wanting to!

More of my art can be seen at my studio at The Interurban Arthouse in Old Overland Park.



Describe your creative process.  How long does it typically take you to complete a painting?

I think my creative process goes on even when I’m not aware of it.  As an artist I think we are constantly looking and observing the world and people around us, thinking “Would that make a good painting? Should I take a quick photo for future reference?” I take photos a lot, as well as make a quick sketches just to serve as a reminder for later. I tear out of magazines for reference material and visit museums and galleries to see what others have done or are doing. When I finally start a painting I know in my mind what I want the finished work to look like.  I don’t think  I have a typical amount of time I spend on a painting—everyone of them is different. Some happen easily and others can take much longer than I think they should, but in the end it's always worth the time invested in it. I continue to take drawing classes, as drawing is the basic building block that everything else depends on. And it’s fun to draw!



What books, movies and/or music have inspired you recently? 

Mary Poppins Returns is my most favorite movie I have seen recently. The combination of live action and animation, as well as the amazing color palette, were delicious to see. The colors, music and story just made me happy. Where  the Crawdads Sing is the book I read most recently that I am hoping is made into a movie because of the descriptions of all the illustrations of nature the heroine created. I loved reading about her cataloging of various plant species  once she learned how to read and had books available to her. Reading is the key to everything.  I always am reading art magazines and new books about creativity and finding joy, because I think for me I want my art to create joy for the  viewer.






Read to a Dog

A child’s reading improves with practice. This relaxed, friendly session allows your kids to practice their reading-out-loud skills with a certified and well-behaved therapy dog as an audience. See the schedule »

Presented in partnership with Pets for Life, Inc.​ and Wayside Waifs​.

Now @ Shawnee: Larissa Uredi

Wednesday, May 1 to Wednesday, August 21, 2019

Larissa Uredi is an award-winning and internationally recognized fiber and mixed media artist. She has exhibited regionally and internationally and has won several artist residencies in Spain, Estonia, Italy and beyond.

When she's not out mountain biking or exploring this wide world, you can find her in her studio making a mess with paint, dyes and a myriad of other mediums. She writes about her adventures (locally and abroad) and is always up for swapping stories.


Tell us about the works on exhibit. What’s the medium? What has inspired their creation?

The works are on silk and use a variety of dyes, paints and found objects to create the marks and colorations. These pieces were inspired by two things: An artist residency I did in El Bruc, Spain and a solo show that I built around the concept of attrition, heat death and entropy.

What comes first – the medium or the message?

Silk belongs on the wall and in the home. It is not just a medium for clothing or bedsheets. It's a beautiful, sustainable and expressive medium. I feel it is essential for silk pieces to be able to move in their environment—having pieces that continue to retain some motion and character is a big part of my creative decision making. While it may not always happen, I keep the playfulness of the material in mind.

What’s the most challenging thing about your creative process?

I go through really wild swings in my productivity and creativity. I feel as though I am either completely inspired and in the pursuit of something or I'm focused on other endeavors— my job, my hobbies, etc. While it is all one big web that feeds itself, it can be really hard to keep the momentum going and remind myself to take care of my inner artist. The work I make also has a variety of processes, requirements and tools to really be successful—I love the challenge of working with those processes, but it often means keeping an open mind as I work. 

Who do you consider your main artistic influences?

I LOVE Alphonse Mucha, Monet and Bocklin, as well as modern-day artists such as James Jean.

Please list 5-10 books, movies and/or music that currently inspire you.

I listen to a lot of The Decemberists, Of Monsters and Men, Deva Premal and World Rock. As far as books go, This Idea Must Die and Critical Mass both were major sources of inspiration and knowledge when I was building my body of work on entropy. The movie La La Land really shook me to my creative core, because of how accurately and cleanly it described the artistic approach and lifestyle.


Science? Yes. Boring white lab coats? Definitely no. Brock Hatton will use science special effects to bring a story to life at ScienceTellers: Aliens: Escape from Earth. Enjoy Brock's amazing technicolor lab coat during this fun story+science event for families.

Catch Aliens: Escape from Earth on July 11 at Blue Valley Library or July 30 at Gardner Library and Central Resource Library. See the schedule »

Throwback Thursday

What kind of photos will you snap this Independence day? Can you beat these kids and their patriotic bikes?! If you can, maybe someday your pics will show up on JoCoHistory!

Photographed are Tracy and Rusty Steitz who decorated their bikes with red, white and blue streamers and American flags for 1982's Independence Day parade in Leawood.

For even more local history visit or follow our hashtag on Twitter.

MakerSpace and Recycling

What happens to your failed 3D prints? Well, here are a few ways we've given that plastic a second life. Enjoy the video of us blending up the scraps and scroll through the slideshow to see how we've made a prototype for swag for your baseball cap and USB tags!


Now at Gardner: Paige Davis

Wednesday, May 1 to Wednesday, August 21, 2019

I think of my drawings as specimens that have not yet been identified, as in they are abstract organic forms based on textures found in nature with an emphasis on mark making and mapping out larger spaces to find potential areas for detail and elaboration.

My paintings, on the other hand, are inspired from still lifes built from fabrics, toilet paper, foliage, dried flowers and other found objects. Using observational skills to capture every tiny shift in color and temperature, I create an “alien” environment. Scale and color transform the small still life reference to something abstract yet believable, with the resulting space suggesting a home for an organism or life force that is imagined or undiscovered.

Paige Davis is a multimedia artist currently living in Lenexa, KS. She earned her BFA in Visual Art from Clemson University, South Carolina. 

Enjoy this exhibition through August 21.


 What comes first – the medium or the message? Tell me a little about the work that will be on view.


Both! I ​tend ​to focus on the medium and, when all goes well, it should enhance the message. I appreciate how oil paints behave and provide so much range in color. For my newer paintings on view, I did a lot of testing with still lifes that involved submerging mundane household objects in milk which added a different layer of depth and created new opportunities with color for me to then play with on canvas to create believable yet abstract environments. 


With my multimedia works, I choose my materials with more intent and consideration. A few of my more graphic pieces on view include fly fishing thread which is a nod to my interest in camping and newer hobbies since moving to Kansas - hunting, fishing, and all the skills that you hone while outdoors. When I use graphite and ink, I’m kind of recalling that idea of field notes and studies. I start with an abstract splash of ink, study it and enhance areas of interest. There’s no particular result in mind when I start these pieces, so it’s a bit freeing compared to my oil painting. 



What do you feel is your role as an artist?


Recently, I try to focus on how making art enhances my life, personal growth, and critical thinking. In the grander scheme, I hope people that do view my art spend a few moments lost in observation and are able to just be present with the work. Furthermore, I hope it encourages people to make that connection beyond the art - to appreciate the beauty and complexity of their own surroundings. 



What influences your practice/works?


I’m inspired by the idea of “place” and observation. Nature continues to be a large influence in my work; moving from SC to TN - and to KS in 2013- has exposed me to a variety of landscapes. In learning about habitats, I was fascinated with the knowledge that there is all this activity at the “edge” of a habitat and its importance. I try to recall that concept when working on a piece.



Who are the other artists you look to for inspiration? And what about their works do you like?


I’m inspired by a lot of portrait painters because I simply love flesh tones and the variety of colors that are actually used to define the figure. From early on, I’ve always enjoyed Jenny Saville’s works and how she places the figure in space and her brush strokes. I’m very much inspired by ceramic artist Sam Davis (he’s also my husband)! He often finds a way to insert humor into his work and is a good reminder not to take myself too seriously or overthink my ideas; he also challenges me to consider context and concept with my work. 



What other writings do you recommend reading to have a better understanding of your artworks and your art practice/process? Please look through our on-line catalog and provide any links to resources that you would recommend.


Themes of Contemporary Art: Visual Art after 1980 by Jean Robertson and Craig McDaniel- My painting professor at Clemson introduced us to an excerpt (Chapter 3 in particular regarding “Place”) and it blew my mind. 


I also encourage reading any outdoor books that help you identify nature, plants, tracks etc. native to KS (but then go outside and identify stuff and enjoy the feeling of curiosity and discovery)!


This won’t help you understand my work necessarily, but I read a million romance novels. I also find that oil painting in general can be kind of dramatic and romanticized so getting in the studio after reading some angsty love stories makes for good results (especially when paired with an equally dramatic and angsty playlist). Mariana Zapata has been my go-to romance author :)