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Woman donates painting to library

March 02, 2005|by MARLO BARNHART

marlob@herald-mail.com

SMITHSBURG - While Louise Keuper freely admits she got started on her art career late in life, she's been making up for lost time.

A Hagerstown resident, Keuper has strong connections to Smithsburg, where her daughter lives and has an art gallery and shop and where Keuper attends church.

One of her recent artistic endeavors is causing a lot of excitement in her adopted community since it is an oil painting of the old Smithsburg Library building on East Water Street, which caught her eye one day a few years ago as she was traveling through town.

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"I painted the building in the impressionist style," said Keuper, 80. "It is such a charming building."

After she completed it, the painting graced the walls of the Dixie Eatery on Main Street.

But its destiny is taking a new direction and no one is quite sure where the painting will take up residence.

Keuper has donated the painting to the library board that is working to make a new Smithsburg Library building a reality, said Judith Ferro, board president.

"We haven't made a decision about how we are going to handle this gift," Ferro said.

While Ferro said Keuper hoped the painting would hang in the new building, which is to be built at Veterans Memorial Park on West Water Street, its fund-raising value cannot be ignored.

Ferro said she could envision a silent auction. "Maybe then someone who would purchase it would donate it back to the library," she said.

Or perhaps the painting could hang in the new library on loan from the new owner. "Wouldn't that be wonderful," Ferro said.

The painting recently was taken to Country Gallery on Bradbury Avenue where Paul Davis has put a new frame on the artwork.

Keuper isn't the only artist who has put brush to canvas to paint the current library on East Water Street. Prints of Carolyn Smith's painting are available at the library free to any donor who gives more than $50 toward the fund to build the new library, Ferro said.

As of late last fall, nearly $1.2 million had been raised for the new library in Smithsburg, which will be a branch of the Washington County Free Library.

"I lived in Silver Spring (Md.) when I became a professional artist," Keuper said, noting she was in her 50s then.

She moved to Washington County and took painting classes at Hagerstown Junior College (now Hagerstown Community College) and at the Hagerstown YMCA.

As for the future of her library oil painting, she said she is flexible. "Whatever works for the library committee is OK with me," Keuper said.

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