DeSoto Public Library Paves the Way for More City Art In The Future

Whitney Houston -by Curtis Derall Ferguson

DeSoto Focuses On The Arts & Highlighting Local Artists

DESOTO – The City of DeSoto really is an art forward community and if you are an art lover you might already have discovered why.

From the DeSoto Public Library to City Hall to a new art project hopefully in the works for next year, art is an important part of DeSoto and much of it has been created by DeSoto residents.

According to city staff, the art around DeSoto is meant to showcase the works of local DeSoto artists.

Local artist Curtis Ferguson has his art featured in the Library’s lobby and the DeSoto Art League has furnished the art shown on the metal screens.

painting of simone biles
Simone Biles by Curtis Derall Ferguson photo by library staff

“As the DeSoto Public Library proves every day, a Library is about more than books and studying,” said DeSoto Mayor Rachel Proctor. “It is meant to be a focal point for the community where residents of all ages can be exposed to arts, culture, and learning in a comfortable setting. It expands minds and broadens horizons, especially among our youth, and it does it in a way that is fun and where the person doesn’t feel like they are being lectured or tested.”

Clint Eastwood by Curtis Derall Ferguson

The art began being displayed at the library when it was noticed by staff, that while the DeSoto Art League had been displaying art in City Hall for the longest time, the DeSoto Public Library attracts a lot more foot traffic. Next steps, the artwork shifted to its new library location.

Making The Library An Attraction

DeSoto’s Managing Director of Library Services Dr. Hunter Hayes said “We are fortunate in DeSoto to have a library that attracts residents of all age groups and all walks of life. I’m proud of the fact that we are able to provide programs and objects that appeal to each of them whether it’s story time for our youngest residents, a comfortable place to learn and interact for our teens, and for our Seniors a chance to feel safe and appreciated where they can receive assistance with important items such as securing COVID vaccination appointments or tax prep help.

And each group has access to books and authors that appeal to them based on their tastes and often their points in life’s journey. But the one universal that appeals to them all is the art that we display. It might say different things to them, but it touches them and welcomes them. It establishes that there is something special about where they are, and that’s the type of atmosphere where learning and camaraderie can flourish.”

Looking for Shelter by Carol A. Simmons

The future of art in DeSoto

It is also important to differentiate that the exhibitions in the DeSoto Public Library and the lobby of City Hall are art that is currently on loan for exhibition.

“The beauty benefits the public but it is not technically public art, which really means art funded by local government and on display in the public way or in or on public buildings and structures,” City staff added.

So perhaps some public art is next?

Residents can keep their fingers crossed that answer is yes.

In fact, aside from a few architectural enhancements in the city’s medians, DeSoto doesn’t have a lot of public art. However, this is something the city said they have been working diligently on with the DeSoto Arts Commission, City Council, and City Management.

Planning for the addition of public art is included in the city’s Cultural Arts Master Plan, the City’s five-year Strategic Plan and in the 2022 Work Plan.

A few future goals include the preparation of the DeSoto Arts Commission’s Request for Qualifications (RFQ) to commission a talented artist or arts team to produce a mural. The mural would be on the large wall of the North Side of City Hall facing the grassy courtyard. The wall measures approximately 65 feet by 25 feet. Staff said the final product will be “about as visible and as public as a piece of art can be”.

Art For Sale

As for the art in the public library, interested collectors can certainly take some of those pieces home with them. City staff said it depends on what the artists want to do as far as selling their pieces. The works by Ferguson are for sale and some of the work from the DeSoto Art League is for sale too.

“Art literally speaks to people and helps them to better understand and appreciate what the world has to offer,” Proctor concluded. “And when that art comes from DeSoto artists it proves just how connected our city is to the rest of the world. For many, their journey to the rest of the world begins right here in the DeSoto Public Library.”

And, in the future the art created for DeSoto by DeSoto will most certainly not only be a testament of the local artist’s skill shown at the public library, but hopefully throughout the city overall.