Unique art collection was on display at Kearny Library

This slideshow requires JavaScript.

The Kearny Public Library recently highlighted one of its most unique collections as part of a mid-June art reception in the outdoor reading garden area of the building, Josh Humphrey, library director, said.

“For anyone who has visited the library within the last several years, you may have noticed our interesting collection of art throughout the main floor. As with everything in our beloved space, it has an interesting story,” Humphrey said. “Several years ago, Jennifer Cullen, the dynamic president of our Friends group, stumbled upon the artwork of Mick Wiggins during an internet search of book-related art. Wiggins, a native of Florida who now resides in Little Rock, Arkansas, has been, in his quiet way, creating amazing illustrations and book covers for more than 30 years.”

Humphrey says he was a “perfect find for us, and we started adding his framed prints right away.”

Many of his digital pieces serve as cover art for classic and contemporary novels, running the gamut from American literary giant John Steinbeck to contemporary British crime novelist Nicola Upson and award-winning young adult novelist Cynthia Voigt.

“All looked great on our walls, but this was only the beginning of a longer relationship,” Humphrey said. “In 2021, as we were struggling to get back some level of normalcy after COVID-related closures and limitations, we were trying as best as we could to bring back some adult programming.”

Enter Cullen again.

“At this point, our collection of Mick Wiggins prints numbered as many as 30 throughout our spaces, especially in our new River Terminal Development-funded teen room,” he said.  “Through an email correspondence, we learned Mick would be in the area for a couple weeks to visit his son, Leo. Jennifer was able to entice him over to our building to see his work displayed and meet some of his biggest fans.   This event, last year, was a great success, and it led to something even more interesting.”

After enjoying his work, including many pieces Mick had never even seen reproduced on that scale, he made the library the unique offer of creating a one-of-a-kind artwork in honor the building.

“This past June, we got the opportunity to unveil this new piece, a faithful reproduction of our 1907 Carnegie building through the unique lens of an immensely talented digital artist.  The result is, of course, breathtaking.  We got our first look during a reception that featured Mick and his family, Jennifer Cullen and the Friends group, our prior Director Julie McCarthy, council liaison and library champion Eileen Eckel and our own beloved Mayor Santos.”

Humphrey says the piece has been printed and framed in the largest format possible and will now hang in a central part of the main hallway, right over the portrait of Andrew Carnegie, whose donation of $32,000 some 115 years ago made the building possible.

It joins the now more than 50 framed pieces by Mick Wiggins.

“We invite all to come out and take a look at our newest acquisition, another amazing story in a community of amazing stories,” Humphrey said.

Learn more about the writer ...

Kevin A. Canessa Jr. is the editor of and broadcaster at The Observer, a place where he has served on and off since 2006. He is responsible for the editorial content of the newspaper and website, the production of the e-Newspaper, writing several stories per week (including the weekly editorial), conducting live broadcasts on Facebook Live, including a weekly recap of the news — and much more behind the scenes. Between 2006 and 2008, he introduced the newspaper to its first-ever blog — which included podcasts, audio and video. Originally from Jersey City, Kevin lived in Kearny until 2004, lived in Port St. Lucie. Florida, for four years until February 2016 and in March of that year, he moved back to West Hudson to return to The Observer full time. Click Here to send Kevin an email.