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Sculpture Selected for Gainsboro ‘Reading Garden’

The City of Roanoke and the Roanoke Arts Commission (RAC) announce the selection of Madeline Wiener of Denver, Colo., by a citizen panel to create an outdoor sculpture for the newly remodeled Gainsboro Branch Library. City Council approved the selection at its meeting Monday, May 4.

Wiener’s proposal for “Reading Garden” was selected from four finalists who came to Roanoke for interviews with the panel. Those finalists were chosen from a pool of 85 responses to a Request for Qualifications. The sculptural elements will be installed in the garden area outside the library by late October 2009. Carved from

Indiana Limestone this functional art is derivative of Wiener’s

“Bench People,” universal figures which provide multiple seating areas. In a nod to the library location, the two figures will hold open books and other seating areas will be made of carved stacks of books.

A unique feature of this public art will be the opportunities for community interaction. Wiener will hold workshops at the library at the beginning of the process to determine what titles or references the community would like to see inscribed onto the books. At the time of installation, she will show a film detailing the entire process of creating the work and invite participants to help with the final polish of the pieces. She will also bring chips that have been carved from the original stone used in the work and the public will be able to file or paint their own chip to take home as a memento of the larger artwork.

Wiener calls the Gainsboro Library “a wonderful venue for me to create interactive sculpture that suggests a place to read and interact as well as to create figurative sculptures that anyone can relate to.” A graduate of the New York School of Visual Arts, Wiener has exhibited in numerous museums and her public commissions can be seen across the United States and as far abroad as India. Her work has been included in many national publications including Stone in

America and Sculpture Review Magazine. She also teaches and lectures and founded the Marble Symposium in Marble, Colo.

According to Carla Lewis, Gainsboro branch librarian and a member of the citizen selection panel, “Ms. Wiener’s work will be a significant addition to the library and the community. As interactive art it will also provide a space for reading and contemplation.”

The public art program is funded by a Percent for Art Ordinance, established by the City of Roanoke as a way to fund public art in city neighborhoods and public places to reflect its vibrancy and heritage. The fund is comprised of one percent of the budgets of certain projects in the city’s capital improvement program. Funding for “Reading Garden” was based on capital projects completed in the 2007-2008 fiscal year. Public art policies and decisions are guided by the 15 volunteer members of the Roanoke Arts Commission, with final approval from City Council.

To find out more about the Public Art Program, please contact Susan Jennings, Public Art Coordinator, at 540-853-5652. More information is available at For information on the artist visit

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