Kent County Public Library is delving into the work of great artists with their new series First Impressions, which kicks off the first week of January with a book club, kids' activity and lecture on Vincent van Gogh.

Walk into the Kent County Public Library and it’s impossible to miss what the latest initiative is. A 17-by-7-foot silk-screened version of Vincent van Gogh’s “Starry Night” with a brief bio about the Dutch artist stretches over the open entrance to the library’s atrium. It’s an arresting statement against the long, white walls of books, and sunlight that’s glancing off snow and in through the windows.

Through May, patrons will see oversized works such as the three van Goghs currently hanging to celebrate the library’s First Impressions series. During the first full week of every month, large-scale replicas from different artists will hang in the atrium to announce which artist and their work the series will explore through art lessons, lectures and children’s workshops.

Hanging large reproductions and holding the accompanying programming is something the library has wanted to do for a while, but didn’t have the space for in the old building, said Hilary Welliver, county librarian and assistant director of community services, library division. In their current digs, patrons can appreciate the art throughout the length of the library.

“Most of these are impressionists paintings and you want to look at them up close to actually appreciate the technique,” she said. “But you also need a substantial amount of space between you and piece to appreciate the impact.”

Welliver said it is part of the library’s duty to not only display the work, but to educate the public about it.

“We really would like to be more of a community center and this is one of those things that community centers should do,” she said.

Apparently, many agree with her. Since proposing the program, the library has found it easy to find help in the form of historians, educators and artists. The Dover High School Visual and Performing Arts Gifted Program students may be visiting performers for some of the events, and the Biggs Museum of American Art will lead three of the children’s workshops. Some favorite speakers are returning as well. Art historian Sandra Denney will give a lecture on the life and legacy of Pablo Picasso at 6:30 p.m. Wednesday, March 30, and artist and educator Eddy Seger will lend insight into Claude Monet’s world at 6:30 p.m. Wednesday, May 4. Seger also will kick off the lectures with a talk on van Gogh at 6:30 p.m. Wednesday, Jan. 5.

Welliver hopes that someday the oversized masterworks will be joined by local work as well.

“I would love to see pastel art, I would love to see local and regional artists showcased in our space. I love to see children’s artwork, I think there’s nothing more exciting than the energy that kids bring to their work,” she said.

For a list of related programming, visit

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