I currently write a column each Tuesday for the DeKalb
Daily Chronicle. The column will also appear on this website
each week and be added to the archives.
The Articles started December 2007.
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Famous artist's work on display in
By Barry Schrader Senior Columnist...................January 31, 2012
Wandering over to Malta one day last week, I got to meet former
Daily Chronicle columnist Peggy Wogen, who once wrote a weekly
piece called Heart & Soul in the mid-1990s. She
is now better known as the library director of Malta Township
I had gone there to admire a large oil painting Washington
Square by well-known American realist painter Alfred Mira
that had recently been restored and hung at the library.
One of a series on the landmark park in New York City created
by Mira, it had originally hung in the Grand Central Art Galleries
in New York.
Malta became the paintings home when the late Claude Barber,
director of the Grand Central Art Galleries, donated it in memory
of his parents, Frank and Kate Barber of Malta. Claude Barber
had been raised in Malta, so he had a sentimental attachment
to the community. The donation was made in 1962, and over time
the painting became soiled and fell into disrepair.
Jim Powers, a descendent of Claude Barber, recently paid for
the full restoration and reframing
Gathered for the presentation of the newly restored artwork
at Malta Township Library are (back row from left) Jim Powers,
a descendent of Claude Barber; Sue Augustine, president of the
Malta Township Library board; and trustee Jodi Slade. In the
front row (from left) are board secretary Melanie Gamlin, trustee
Carol Nelson and Cassie Nimerfroh, vice president of the library
board. (Provided photo)
of the painting, done by the Conservation Center in Chicago,
so it can be enjoyed in full splendor once again.
At first glance, I thought it was depicting the Arc de Triomphe
in Paris, but upon closer examination it is obviously a scene
from 1930s America. Mira (1900-1980) created many paintings of
notable New York landmarks and his work is on exhibit at many
of the best known galleries, including the Washington, D.C.,
Corcoran Gallery of Art, the Art Institute of Chicago and the
Carnegie Institute, in addition to New York Citys Grand
Central Terminal.It is hard to imagine such a collectible artwork
can be seen at the Malta library, and there are other nice pieces
of art there. I was drawn to the painting of the Ellwood barn
created by Cindy Brown, whose barn paintings local art lovers
Wogen also was pleased to show me a collection of 20 large prints
that was made possible through the National Endowment for the
Humanities, which is even available to take home on loan. She
said many home-schoolers take advantage of these reproductions,
which include paintings and photography by well-known Americans.
The library also has an array of computers available to the public
for Internet access and some 700 entertainment DVDs and CDs.
In the back of the 2,500-square-foot addition that opened in
2007 are two special collections: Civil War books from Thomas
Brano and a number of books about Native Americans given by Georgina
Yeager in memory of her late husband, Wes.
Its worth the trip to Malta to see what the library has,
whether you have a library card or not.
Clarification from Barry: On Jan. 17, this column included a
photo showing Bob Myers and myself inspecting a used motor home
being considered for purchase as a Museum on Wheels.
His presence in the photo may have inferred his support for the
proposed project. In fact, he does not favor the project. I regret
any misconception that might have resulted from readers who saw
The columnist can be reached via email at :
or by snailmail at:
PO Box 851
DeKalb, Ill 60115