Russell and Jean Groves like the Hillsboro City Library. They come in often to enjoy the selection of books, magazines, and newspapers. It was only natural that they decided to make the library a beneficiary of their family art sales when the opportunity arose.
“Libraries have always been real important to Jean and me,” Russell Groves said. “We felt this is something our parents would approve of because it benefits everyone in the community.”
Grove’s mother, Ellen Groves, was a watercolor painter, and Jean’s father, James Baxter, a wood carver. The combined collections of their work now fill the former Supreme Floor building at 110 N. Main Street in Hillsboro. It is the beginning of a downtown art gallery, and Mayor Delores Dalke is excited about the possibilities.
“We’ve needed something like this in Hillsboro for a long time,” Dalke said. “The whole idea is that someday we will invite additional artists to exhibit and sell their work here. The quality of the items the Groves’ are donating to benefit the library is just amazing.”
The business does not have an official name yet, but Groves tossed out the possibility of Hillsboro Holiday Art Gallery.
“We will be opening the first weekend of November and then be open every weekend and on holidays,” he said. “We will likely be open on Thursday evenings as well, and by appointment.”
At a sneak peak show Tuesday evening, Dalke said the organization of display was still in process, but items were already for sale.
“Russell is working on getting the prices computerized, but if anyone wants to see what is here, they can call me and we can work out a private showing,” Dalke said.
In addition to watercolor paintings of flowers, landscapes, and sky scenes, a special group of carousel paintings is paired with wooden fantasy carousel animals.
“We will probably use those as a centerpiece for the gallery,” Groves said. “It is just very interesting how some of these things are coming together.”
Groves said his father, Leslie Groves, who is still living, had all his mother’s paintings at his home.
“When he was ready to let them go, he asked us to set up a way to donate them in a way that would benefit the community,” he said. “We hope this will be a way to start some seed money for a building project for the library.”
Groves’ mother, Ellen Groves, is no longer living, but her original watercolor paintings that now rest in Hillsboro have traveled around the world.
“She painted and sketched since she was a kid, but became an actual artist, selling her work in the 1960s and ’70s,” he said. “Through the Kansas Watercolor Society she had four pieces consigned to an exhibit of American art that traveled throughout Europe. Only one of those pieces has not been sold and it will be available at the art gallery.”
Woodcarvings by Baxter on display at the gallery range from intricate bird and flower displays to fish, mountain goats, and other wild animals. A mountain lion carving is currently on display at the Hillsboro City Library, along with several watercolor paintings.
“This all helps the city in two ways,” Dalke said. “We get to help the library as money from these art sales will go directly toward that fund, plus we hope to make this a long-term art gallery for Hillsboro.”