On the Town: Brand Library reopens with a new look

After an extensive, two-year renovation, the Brand Library & Art Center reopened with a celebrity gala. Close to 150 supporters got a first look at the brand new library and art center's facelift.

Last Saturday, handsome men, with or without black ties, and their ladies who strolled the gallery also had the chance to be the first to view the inaugural exhibition of mixed-work pieces from contemporary artists.

In 1998, members of the Glendale City Council approved the multimillion dollar funding for the Brand Library and Art Center.

This evening, one council member who OK'd the project made it clear the council's vote, now having come to fruition, was more than worth it.

Glendale Mayor Dave Weaver, who was on the council in 1998, encouraged supporters to "keep the fundraising going to run the programs."

Current councilman Frank Quintero enthused, "This will be a regional draw attracting people from all over Los Angeles."

Fellow councilwoman Laura Friedman, appropriately toting her daughter, 9-month-old Rachel Lemoine, took the microphone to assure supporters the library and art center will be enjoyed for many years.

"This capital investment is for future generations," said Friedman, who is also a member of the Associates of Brand Library.

Former Glendale Mayor Eileen Givens, part of the self-confessed "old guard," also took the mic to thank supporters.

Library VIPs, too, were effusive in their appreciation. Director of Library Arts and Culture Cindy Cleary reminded her audience that the renovation is a "legacy to Mr. Brand." Leslie Coombs Brand, known as "the father of Glendale" lived with wife, Mary Louise, in the Brand Mansion (now the Library) in 1904.

Arlene Vidor, president of the Associates of Brand Library & Art Center, described the extensive renovation. In addition to the Brand Library, the 1969 Art Center addition has been rehabilitated and a new entry pavilion and plaza have been added to link the two buildings together.

After the brief program, visitors sipped, supped and socialized at the sold-out gala in Brand Park. Hors d'oeuvres, specialty cocktails and live jazz music were the order of the evening.  Visitors included Nancy and Jerry Frazee.  Nancy Frazee developed the Glendale Assistance League's "Authors and Illustrators Day," in which professional authors and illustrators visit local schools. Daughter and illustrator Marla Frazee has been a frequent visitor.

Supporters also included Doctors' House Director Sonia Montejano, Glendale Historical Society members Victoria and Brett Godwin, and graphic artist Scott Lasken.

Glendale residents included Doctors' House Vintage Clothes Curator Ruth Ellen Billion, Marcia Hanford and Jeanette and Marc Stirdivant.

Attendees were also treated to an opportunity to purchase a piece of history. Small hunks of the original, ceiling plaster from the Brand family mansion were available for $20 each. The pieces were framed in plastic and specified which room in the mansion the bit of ceiling came from. Visitors could have their choice of a little bit of the dining room, the drawing room, the library or the reception hall.

Free public events this week include a ribbon-cutting ceremony on Thursday, a gallery reception on Saturday and open house on Sunday. The afternoon, family-oriented open house will include live jazz, food trucks and climbing walls for the little ones.


RUTH SOWBY may be reached at ruthasowby@gmail.com.

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