Exhibit Opening POSTPONED due to weather.  The gallery will be open during normal hours on Fri. Feb. 10th–11am-4pm, and artist talks will run as scheduled…see schedule below.

KENT STETSON
“The Art of Handbags”

February 10 – March 24, 2017

Artist Talks:
Fri. Feb. 10th, 11am
Sat. Feb. 11th, 1pm (artist-guided tour of pieces)
Thurs. Mar. 23rd, 6pm

Artist’s Statement:
When I approached the Library Arts Center a year ago about staging this show, I had no idea that they would say yes.  I am excited and honored to join in celebrating the fiftieth anniversary of the Library Arts Center.  This exhibition traces the journey from my early struggle finding commercial success as a visual artist, to finding my medium in the unlikely form of handbags.  In 2003, after my first solo exhibition failed to produce any sales, I cut the pieces out of the frames, sewed them into small evening bags, and sold them at the shoe store where I worked.  Fast-forward 13 years, currently my handbags are sold in several hundred stores around the world and are featured in print, television, film, and on red carpets.  You probably have heard the expression, “necessity is the mother of all inventions”, and it is my hope that this exhibition captures the spirit of determination that led me to handbags.  Originally a framing device, handbags have since become my medium.  Mine is somewhat of a “Pinocchio” story – I desperately want to be a “real” artist.  While engaged with my commercial handbag business, I am also trying to create stories both through and around handbags.  This exhibit aims to jump off the wall and demonstrate one of the ways in which art can happen in unexpected places.  I am excited to share the fun and glamour of chasing a dream, but ultimately this show is my expression of gratitude to those who told me, “Yes, you can!”.

Raised in Lempster, my family and the community always encouraged me to be creative.  The town of Lempster is celebrating it’s 250th anniversary this year, it is the 20th anniversary of my graduation from Newport High School, and the Library Arts Center is turning 50!  This is a perfect calling to reconnect with old friends and celebrate what makes our home so special.   I was so lucky to have been raised in Lempster, with a family and community that set such strong examples of hard work, independence, and creativity.  I have fond memories of taking art classes throughout elementary school at the Library Arts Center. Later, the outstanding visual art program at Newport High School gave me and countless other students the opportunity to display our artwork in the gallery.  It is an understatement to say that the community here incubated my future.  I am so proud of the people who have worked to make this a great place for art to emerge and be appreciated.  I must caution about seeing my particular exhibition as an arrogant gesture by someone who left town and “made it big”.  Rather, this is a path that has tested me in every way imaginable.  I believe that this is something to which all of my peers, my entire family, every mentor of mine, and anyone who has ever pursued their dreams can relate.  And the founders of the Library Arts Center created this place for us to support and celebrate that which makes us seek our best.