ALTON --Art work by area residents is a feature of the Alton Public Library.
Photographs of the springs in Oregon County by Cecil Denton of Mountain View and an oil painting by Sue Flanagan of Fairdealing, "Seven Gables Barn" near Many Springs, are currently on display.
"We like to offer area residents an opportunity to display and enjoy local art," said librarian Janice Richardson.
During the month of October, "The Ozarks Native Stone Architecture," an exhibit of nearly 50 pieces by SMSU-WP art instructor Barbara Williams of West Plains, will be featured. Among them are mixed media paintings on canvas and paper and photographs by Williams and free-lance photographer Marc Newman of Alton. These pieces show homes, schools, churches, barns, stores and service stations constructed with native stone between 1900 and 1950 in Howell, Oregon, Shannon, Wright and Ozark counties.
Williams, a native of Oregon County, said she feels a special connection to the traditional art of the area and a concern for protecting its cultural heritage.
"Ordinary people use what is most common and at hand as building materials for necessary structures, and the Ozarks has an abundance of rocks," Williams explained. "Fieldstone, flintstone, cobblestone and split rock sandstone have been used practically and creatively. This medium became a means of personal self-expression, as well as an expression reflecting the environment.
"Each building, expressive in its own right, is or was part of a whole community, reflective of that community, not idiosyncratic. The buildings bridge boundaries of art and cultural environment and become a folk tradition. Folk builders perfected their craft and brought it to a level of beauty and creativity."
Williams pointed out that many of these buildings have been torn down. "We're hoping the exhibit will build awareness among local people of their value as part of the Ozarks cultural heritage," she said. "And, to those outside the area, we hope the exhibit will foster understanding and appreciation, helping to dispel the negative 'hillbilly' stereotype."
The Alton Library, on court square, is open from 8 a.m. to 4:30 p.m. Monday through Friday.