Search Stories


New Podcast Episode

Johnson County Movie Theater History, Career and Finance, and Bookstores

In this episode of Did you hear?, host Dave Carson and Librarian Mike Keller give you the inside story on what it was like to visit and work at Johnson County movie theaters back in the day! They also chat about the 4-part jocohistory series about the local chain of Dickinson movie theaters!

Then, our weekly Library Community Calendar highlight: career and finance Librarian Marty Johannes brings Karen Silins of A-Plus Career and Resume by to preview resume and interviewing events!

Plus, Dave tells ya about our bookstores!


Homework Help

Keep your school skills sharp over the Summer with


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 :) 



The West African Talking Drum

Join us for The West African Talking Drum, June 18 at 1 and 2 pm.

Teens, it’s time to play some drums! Participants will learn about Ghana in West Africa and explore a drumming tradition that dates back 800 years. Experience how music is an integral part of all societies of this region. Through a hands-on workshop we will see how music speaks to a community, and how it can make a village dance. Ages 12-18.

Register online for this program or call 913.826.4600


New Podcast Episode!

West African Talking Drum and Improv, ELL, and Books to Go!

In this episode of Did you hear? Jennifer Reeves and Chris Koppenhaver talk Let's Improv! and the West African Talking Drum,

Then, we give you a behind-the-scenes listen! Our English Language Learning (ELL) Conversation Group volunteers share why they spend every weekend helping non-native speakers become proficient at English.

Dave also tells you about our 6by6 books to go!



Now @ Cedar Roe: Joe Bussell

Wednesday, May 1 to Wednesday, August 21, 2019

Joe Bussell is an award-winning painter of startling, vibrant abstracts that defy description. Figures and shapes float and scrape across the canvas in ways that are both playful and mysterious. His work embraces primary colors that can simultaneously blend together and maintain their identity.

He states: “When I was a kid my summer days were spent playing baseball, hunting for fossils, attending music and art camp. My favorite activity during these carefree summers was going to the public library on Saturday and thumbing through the open stacks pulling out everything from art books to zoology. It was a thrill to get them to a table and scan through the contents. This series of new paintings is titled Leafing Through and are based on these childhood memories.”

Enjoy this exhibition through August 21.


Introduce yourself and describe your work and the media/genre you work in.

My name is Joe Bussell, website address: I'm an abstract painter and sculptor. In 1979 I earned a BFA in painting from Kansas University. From that time to the present I lived in London, on both US coasts and a variety of cities in between. I received 2 MFA’s—one in painting and the other in ceramics from Washington University in St Louis. I taught art at Wash U and Johnson County Community College. My work has been represented and exhibited in the US and Europe over the last 40 years. 

Talk about the work on view. What would you like people to know about it?

When I was a kid, my summer days were spent playing baseball, hunting for fossils and attending music and art camp. My favorite activity during these summers was going to the Lawrence Public Library on Saturday and thumbing through the open stacks, pulling out everything from art books to zoological drawings. It was a thrill to get the material to a table and scan through the contents.This series of new paintings is based on these childhood memories.

Describe your creative process. How often are you painting and where is your studio?

Process is my favorite part of making art. These paintings are primarily made by pouring and scraping the medium on and off the canvas. I have kept my studio practice in Rosedale for the last 19 years. I work in the studio every day.

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

The artists' works I always look at are Joan Mitchell, Mark Rothko, Howard Hodgkins and Cy Twombly, but not sure I can say they inspire me. I'm inspired by many things though, from contemporary African sculpture, to opera, to a snowy night reflecting stars and a full moon.

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

I've been a reader and a movie goer my entire life.Books and films that are a part of my consciousness include, The Cairo Trilogy by Naguib Mahfouz, Paradise by Toni Morrison, Tales of the City by Armistead Maupin and Wind Up Bird Chronicle by Haruki Murakami. Films include, Boys in the Band, To Kill a Mockingbird, Who's Afraid of Virginia Woolf? and The Insect Woman by Shohei Imamura.

I'm currently reading Zora and Langston, The Letters of Sylvia Plath and Foursome, Alfred Steiglitz, Georgia O'Keefe, Paul Strand and Rebecca Salsbury. Very different people but interesting how their creativity match up in many ways.


Calling All Movie Buffs!

Two recent JoCoHistory posts explore the history of a local movie theater.

Watch for the next post, "Reel Three," coming soon!

Movie buffs, you might also enjoy our podcast episode coming June 17. We'll feature some of our cinemaniac Librarians chatting about local theaters and their favorite summer camp movies! Watch this space on Monday to listen along!

For more local history, follow our hashtag on Twitter.




Music and Movies in the Park, Modern Day Fitzgerald, and Books in español

In this episode of Did you hear? – the Johnson County Library podcast – Bryan Voell pops by to discuss music and movies in the park. Then, Mica Elgin-Vi of Modern Day Fitzgerald joins the conversation. Also, Dave then shares a DYI about books in español! It's funny, informative and compelling. Give it a listen and then consider subscribing!