An oasis for readers and art lovers

No library card needed to see this museum-worthy art full of Minnesota author quotes. Credit: Photo by Linda Koutsky

Check it out!
Ridgedale Library, 12601 Ridgedale Drive, Minnetonka
Open Monday–Thursday, 9 a.m.–9 p.m.; Friday–Saturday, 9 a.m.–5 p.m.; Sunday, noon–5 p.m

The Hennepin County Library app makes me so happy! Need to know library hours, locations, job search assistance, or where there’s an interesting event for you or your kids? One or two clicks will get it for you. And never before has it been easier to find a book. Any card-holding library patron can look up books on the app then find out which libraries have it in stock. All checked out? Another click will send a request to rush the title to your local library as soon as it’s returned. Sure, you can do this all online, but the app makes it quick and easy and you can do it anywhere.

The other day I was looking for some nonfiction travel books and decided to make a trek of my own to a library I hadn’t been to in a while to pick up the books myself. Call it an adventure. Ridgedale shopping mall was built in 1974 as the fourth “dale” after Southdale (1956), Brookdale (1962), and Rosedale (1969). A combination Hennepin County Service Center and Library opened on the south side of the mall in 1982. When the building remodeled in the late 1990s they included art in their public spaces — what a delightful surprise on my excursion!

Steel lobby benches by SHERYL TUORILA are inlaid with colorful ceramic and glass tiles. Linear patterns in the mosaics match up with glazed stripes in the floor tile. Tuorila teaches workshops in her Northrup King Building studio. Other installations can be seen at Metro State University, Hennepin County Medical Center, and Roosevelt Library.

Hanging above the benches in the two-story atrium is an abstraction of a reading lamp by RANDY WALKER. Though this piece is permanent, the artist often uses colored strings to make temporary installations. Other permanent pieces in the Twin Cities are at the Science Museum of Minnesota, Cream of Wheat Lofts and the City of St. Louis Park

Marking the entrance to the library on the building’s second floor is “The Story Garden” by TOM ROSE. A curving green wood wall looks like an exhibit space for words and images and is punctuated by windows with etched imagery. An homage to children’s literature, this piece by a University of Minnesota art professor engages viewers to contemplate what makes a story.

Though there are several other pieces scattered about, including changing exhibits, the collection’s piece de resistance is a large stairway mural by JAUNE QUICK-TO-SEE SMITH. Smith grew up on the Flathead Reservation in southwestern Montana where she checked out books from a bookmobile. After receiving degrees in art education and fine arts, Smith’s work became influenced by other painters of the era including Jasper Johns and Robert Rauschenberg. A map of Minnesota shows a layering of trees, fish, loons, moose, buffalo, petroglyphs, people, and hands, along with quotes from authors. Smith’s work is in collections around the world including the Walker Art Center; New York’s MOMA, Whitney, and the Met; the Smithsonian; the Victoria and Albert Museum.; and the list goes on and on. This was a surprise to see and worth the drive. Actually, I’d drive a lot further to see a painting this good. So put this stop on your list. And renew your card if it’s expired.

LUNCH TIP: You don’t have to go far, the small of coffee is just around the corner — Dunn Bros. is in the building!

BONUS TIP: Just so you know, since the season seems to be here: this is an easy place to get your state park permits and vehicle and boat registration.