When patrons walk inside the Arts’tination art gallery at National Harbor, they see vibrant paintings, distinctive clothing and various, uniquely crafted collages.
Tucked in the rear of the gallery, one will find a small room with books replete with beautiful illustrations including “Chamber Music” by the hip-hop group Wu-Tang Clan, “How To Become A Successful Artist” and “Radiant Child.”
The Prince George’s County Memorial Library System curated these as part of more than 400 books – selected because of their connection to the arts.
Thanks to a partnership with the county’s Arts and Humanities Council, the space called the “Pebble pop-up library,” with materials suitable for both children and adults, opened to the public on Saturday, April 30.
“We want to make sure that the library is visible no matter where people go,” said Roberta Phillips, president and CEO of the library system during a soft launch three days prior to the official grand opening.
“This was the perfect partnership with the arts council. This is a way for people to get educated about the arts and for people to get a career in the arts,” she said.
Prince George’s residents with a library card can check out books from the Pebble and return them to any of the County’s nearly two dozen branch locations. The books will be picked up and returned back to National Harbor.
Visitors can not only check out work by local artists but also register to participate in various programs hosted by the library system and arts council. The council will celebrate its 40th anniversary this year and has plans to host a film festival in September.
While on vacation visiting family in the D.C. area, Lionel and Sarah Green of Los Angeles stopped by Arts’tination on April 27.
“This place is really cool,” Lionel Green said inside the Pebble library. “I like the artistic expression on all the [book] covers, especially those which showcase African-American and women’s history. It’s multicultural. This entire space is really inviting.”
Marie Antoinette, who showcased her collage of artwork, “The Mariposa Collective,” at Arts’tination, said the addition of a library enhances the gallery.
“It’s going to be great. We are going to be offering a series of workshops this summer,” said Antoinette, who taught art in the Prince George’s public schools for three years. “The sooner you introduce children to different forms of art, the better. You let them interpret art the way they see it.”
Phillips added the significance of the library system’s decision to offer an inclusive selection of books and other materials cannot be overstated.
And when the Oxon Hill library holds its first in-person activity in over two years on May 21, it will be presented in conjunction with the Prince George’s County Lynching Memorial Project and feature a discussion about the lynching of Thomas Juricks in Piscataway in 1869.
“We are one of the few Democratic institutions still alive and still saying we welcome all points of being,” Phillips said. “We disdain book banning because we know everybody wants to be represented. All voices deserve to be heard. It’s not our job to limit what people have access to. It’s the customer’s job to decide what they would like to select.”
For more information on the county’s arts council and Pebble library, call 301-772-8943.