Art at the Library
Our Family of Readers by Penelope Jencks, donated to the Chappaqua Library in 2010 by The Reader’s Digest Association, Inc.
Artist: Penelope Jencks
Title: Our Family of Readers (1993)
Dimensions: 73 x 64 x 41 inches
Weight: 1,300 pounds
“OUR FAMILY OF READERS” SCULPTURE DONATED TO LIBRARY
The Reader’s Digest Association has generously donated a six-foot-tall bronze sculpture, entitled “Our Family of Readers,” to the library. Visitors will notice this new addition near the walkway that comes up to the left of the library from Greeley Avenue.
Commissioned by Reader’s Digest in the early 1990s, the sculpture was installed on the front lawn of their Chappaqua headquarters in 1993. It depicts four figures, each holding a book, and represents a mother, father, daughter and son of varying cultures. An accompanying plaque reads: "Dedicated to the millions of readers around the world who find information, enrichment, entertainment and inspiration in Reader's Digest."
The sculpture was created by artist Penelope Jencks, a prominent contemporary sculptor born in 1936 in Baltimore MD. Jencks studied art history and French at Swarthmore College before transferring to art school at Boston University, where she earned her BFA. She says she decided she would rather make art history than study it. Jencks’ figurative sculpture, done mostly in terra cotta and bronze, is represented in several collections worldwide, including the White House in Washington D.C. and the Boston Public Library. She has had solo exhibitions in New York and Boston, and has won numerous awards. Among her many notable commissions is a sculpture of Eleanor Roosevelt located at a Riverside Park memorial in New York.
The library was contacted about the possible donation of the sculpture as Reader’s Digest prepared to move from their Chappaqua location to their new offices in Manhattan. Pamela Thornton, director of the library, was thrilled to accept the offer, saying “I think it's important… that the meaning of the sculpture that was so important to Reader's Digest is of utmost importance to us.” Mary Berner, the President and CEO of Reader's Digest Association, said "we are delighted to donate this sculpture celebrating the Reader's Digest heritage and reading to the Chappaqua Library and the residents of New Castle. A piece of Reader's Digest will always remain in Chappaqua through this donation. Reader's Digest has long championed reading and literacy, and this inspiration will be reflected by the sculpture now situated at the library."
Letter from Penelope Jencks - Family of Readers
I am so happy to hear that this sculpture which I made in 1992 has finally found a good home! It was originally made for the Readers Digest, but once it was finished it was put away for several years and I often wondered what had become of it.
The Family was made up of several different models:
The man was an art student at Boston University. He had grown up in the West Indies, and while we were working we would trade stories that we were both brought up on. Oddly enough we had read the same books as children, many of which were unknown and unread by my American friends.
The woman was at that time working in Boston as a model. She was German and had married an American jazz musician, but was eager to return to Germany where she felt that inter-racial couples were more easily accepted, and where she much preferred the health system. She was a lively and interesting lady and we had a good time working together, while her husband entertained their tiny baby. (whose name meant some wonderful thing, in some African language)
The children were kids that I found by putting up notices, and contacting friends. There were many, many of them. Some were too old. Some were too young. Some couldn't hold still. Others got bored... or perhaps their parents got bored. Sometimes I got bored, too! Finally I settled on a very conscientious Asian girl who was about 8 years old, and a little American boy. Of the four people in the Family group, he was the only one who was originally from this country!
I am very pleased that this multi-cultural & generational family of readers has finally come to rest in front of a library. (I wish that I knew what had become of their living & breathing counterparts, the kids must be all grown up by now!) It seems optimistic to me, that in this global time so may different parts of the world have come together in such a peaceful pursuit.
Penelope Jencks 12/02/2010
"Westchester" a painting by Robert Goodnough, local resident and artist, is now hanging in the theater lobby.
Chester West" by Robert Goodnough
Hans and Judith Noe have generously given the library a second piece of art by Robert Goodnough. Goodnough, well known as a painter and sculptor and recipient of numerous awards, has exhibited extensively. His work hangs in virtually every major museum, including MoMA, the Whitney and the Metropolitan Museum of Art. He joins Robert Motherwell, Jackson Pollack and Willem de Kooning as an accomplished member of the Second Generation of the New York School abstract expressionism. Edward Albee hung one of Goodnough's paintings in the living room of the set of the movie "Who's Afraid of Virginia Woolf". The library is proud and grateful to be the recipient of this gift.