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Barry Schrader


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
Malta Township Library

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 Library.

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 painting’s 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 City’s 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 know well.

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.

It’s 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 it.

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Barry Schrader
PO Box 851
DeKalb, Ill 60115