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Bird is the word 

Anne Seltzer's paintings celebrate books and birds

When artist Anne Seltzer first moved to Claremont, Calif. about 10 years ago she noticed that birds, specifically ravens and crows, seemed to be everywhere. They flocked around her house and all over town.

click to enlarge STUDY TIME Birds pour over books in artist Anne Seltzer's painting Birds at the Local Library Table. - IMAGE COURTESY OF ANNE SELTZER
  • Image Courtesy Of Anne Seltzer
  • STUDY TIME Birds pour over books in artist Anne Seltzer's painting Birds at the Local Library Table.

"I just love their shape," Seltzer, who now splits her time between Claremont and Cambria, said. "They're really raucous. They make noises of all kinds. They're very fascinating"

Through her observations, Seltzer realized that birds are intelligent creatures, which even teach each other how to know which humans to trust. Since Seltzer noticed this, birds have found their way into her paintings. As a former literature major and current writer of prose, Seltzer also has a soft spot for books, so naturally her exhibit, Birds Discover The Local Library, is currently on display at the Cambria Library for bibliophiles and art aficionados alike to enjoy.

click to enlarge LOVE OF LITERATURE Artist Anne Seltzer's passion for libraries stems from studying literature for her undergraduate degree. - IMAGE COURTESY OF ANNE SELTZER
  • Image Courtesy Of Anne Seltzer
  • LOVE OF LITERATURE Artist Anne Seltzer's passion for libraries stems from studying literature for her undergraduate degree.

Working in acrylic, Seltzer takes a slightly abstract, soft, and illustrative approach in this series, focusing on the shape of the birds rather than exact details and favoring bold colors. It feels akin to opening a bedtime story, simultaneously engaging and comforting.

In a time of e-books and kindles, Seltzer thinks of another era, way back when she was in the seventh grade, when there were paper library check out cards with due date stamped on them. Back then Seltzer even worked as a library assistant with a friend and the two would sign in American Sign Language to one another across the library.

"I like handling the books," Seltzer said. "I just like the physical objects in the library. There's just something quiet and old fashioned about libraries. I hope they don't disappear."

click to enlarge LITTLE LIBRARY HELPERS Winged creatures appear to be quite familiar with the Dewey decimal system in Birds in the Local Library Stacks. - IMAGE COURTESY OF ANNE SELTZER
  • Image Courtesy Of Anne Seltzer
  • LITTLE LIBRARY HELPERS Winged creatures appear to be quite familiar with the Dewey decimal system in Birds in the Local Library Stacks.

In one piece, Birds Discover The Local Library, a few black aviators study and peck at various tomes of literature, in Birds in the Local Library Stacks, the winged creatures appear to be helping to put misplaced books back where they belong, and in another painting, Summer Reading at the Local Library, there are no birds at all, just a table stacked high with unread books and a vase of colorful flowers, perhaps tulips.

And maybe, just maybe, viewers of Seltzer's paintings might walk away feeling like they do after reading a good book: satisfied, curious, and ever intrigued.

"I hope they get a sense of the whimsy, kind of a light view of possibilities," Seltzer said. " I'd like them just to enjoy the paintings. Reading is about imagination. I'd like it if it peaks their imagination about birds and books." Δ

Ryah Cooley is reading a good book at rcooley@newtimesslo.com.


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