Ghanaian artist finds success in library gallery
From Sept. 3 through Sept. 13, Ghanaian artist Nana Kwesi Agyare Ansah shook up the art scene with his Cleveland Heights debut at Heights Libraries’ Lee Road art gallery, selling 10 of his vibrant acrylic paintings, ranging from the figurative to the abstract, along with three handmade African masks.
Ansah’s display was just one of dozens of exhibits the library’s gallery has hosted over the past six years. Being an accessible community gathering place, it is an ideal public venue for displaying art, and artists of all ages and backgrounds are encouraged to apply for the opportunity to exhibit their work.
Stopping in Cleveland for part of his United States tour, Ansah discovered Heights Libraries’ Lee Road branch and happened upon the library gallery, which is located on the first floor of the library's HKIC building.
“Kwesi came to us about displaying his art in our gallery,” said Nancy Levin, Heights Libraries director. “We usually book exhibits months in advance, but we just happened to have a two-week window available before our next show. We were thrilled to provide a platform for him to display his work.”
Ansah opened his show with a live painting demonstration. The following week, he coordinated with the library’s children’s department to teach a recycled art workshop.
“Little did we know that he would give so much back to the library community by engaging visitors and staff alike,” Levin added.
Ansah hopes his exhibition serves as a tool to shape the perception of the arts in Ghana, and would like to return next year for another show. Until then, the library purchased one of his paintings, using money from the Friends of the Heights Libraries, which is displayed on the upper level of the Lee Road branch.
“Maryland, Virginia, D.C., New York; I’ve been all over the country and no place has welcomed me like Cleveland Heights,” Ansah said. “I’ve fallen in love with this place where art is a priority. It’s a friendly place, one where you have the space, time and opportunities to thrive as an artist.”
The gallery is open during regular library hours. Gallery applications can be downloaded from the library’s website at www.heightslibrary.org/art-gallery.
Isabelle Rew is the community engagement associate for the Cleveland Heights University Heights Public Library System.