Northfield Public Library's website's new look by John Maakestad

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            We hope you have visited our renovated library since it reopened on May 7.  The two words most commonly heard about the library are “open” and “bright.”  Children delight in the much larger space and many books, DVDs, new toys and play areas.  Adults hang out in the glass atrium, reading the daily newspaper and drinking coffee.  Groups find the renovated meeting room to be comfortable and accommodating.

            A number of people have asked about the library’s website's new look – the brightly colored abstract.  With the permission of John Maakestad’s family, a detail of his 1983 painting “Jubilate” is now on new library cards (and key fobs), book bags and the library’s website. 

            The painting has been in the library since the first addition in 1985.  Then-library director Charlotte Mugnier solicited artwork from Carleton and St. Olaf Colleges for the expanded library.  St. Olaf donated John’s painting, which hung upstairs for 30 years.  Now the painting has found an even more prominent position in the atrium.  Current library director Teresa Jensen selected it as the library’s new look, because its joy and energy captures the essence of our public library. 

            For those of you who didn’t know John Maakestad, who passed away in 2012, here is a brief recap from the April 12, 2012 St. Olaf News:

            "During his 38 years at St. Olaf, Maakestad taught drawing, design, painting, printmaking, and sculpture, and for 20 years he designed sets for the St. Olaf Christmas Festival. An avid cyclist, he once pedaled 2,000 miles from the Pacific coast to his home (from which he routinely cycled the 16 miles to St. Olaf).

            He retired in 1994, the same year the college exhibited a retrospective of his work titled A Pilgrimage: I'll tell you where I'm going when I get there."

            John’s obituary in the Minneapolis Star Tribune added a few more details on April 14, 2012:

            "John Norris Maakestad was born in Whitehall, Wisconsin in 1929. He was raised in Rochester, where his father was pastor of Zumbro Lutheran Church. After receiving bachelor's degrees in art and English from St. Olaf, Maakestad married Barbara (Bobbie) Shefveland in 1951. The couple raised four sons on a farm near Nerstrand, Minn.

            Maakestad's most passionate energy went into his work in the art department at St. Olaf College. After serving two years during the Korean War, and earning a master's degree in fine arts from the University of Iowa, he joined the St. Olaf staff in 1956 teaching painting, drawing, design, printmaking and sculpture as well as art history.

            Right out of graduate school, Maakestad was mostly a modernist, expressionist landscape painter. His work progressed through the 1960s and changed frequently, from sculpture to silk screening and printmaking, then back to large abstract paintings. His son said he was 'restless with his style ... he had a lot of energy and didn't like to do the same thing over and over'."

            Our public library is pleased to own John Maakestad’s painting “Jubilate” along with artwork created by many other Northfield artists including Jan Shoger, Jenny Bonner, Fred Somers, Pat Lampe, Deborah Brown, David Allen, Rikki Köbl-Nelson, Barbara Sykes and many more.  Look for them throughout the library.