THE ROOM FULL OF BOOKS AT HYDE HOUSE
As daffodils bravely lift their nodding buds to stir the chill, leafy carpet of March, there are a few days ahead just perfect for being indoors and relishing a good book as you nest beside a windowscape of still bare trees.
Here in Carthage, you can easily satisfy your need for a stack of end-of-winter reading when you pay a weekend visit to the exquisite architectural treasure that’s Hyde House. Look for artCentral’s room full of books, as you savor the “ART SPEAKS” exhibition presented by the Joplin Regional Artists Coalition.
The Hydes’ daughter, Katherine, born in 1912, became an amateur artist who traveled extensively. After her father’s passing in 1945, she returned to Carthage, managed the family’s greenhouse business and remodeled her family home. The 1950’s iconic pastel colors of Ms. Hyde’s interior decorating palette¬—mint green and pink—are preserved today in the locally crafted cabinetry of the vintage kitchen and the tiles found on washroom walls and floors upstairs and down.
Inspired by her love for art, in 1989 Katherine Hyde bequeathed her family home and property in trust to the Carthage community, to be used exclusively for the promotion of the arts. Since 1998, this elegant farmhouse has been home to artCentral¬—the non-profit arts center for Carthage and neighboring communities where the art of hometown, regional and international artists is featured in spacious, light-filled galleries.
Today Hyde House has two large downstairs Main Galleries, the Sandy Higgins Members Gallery upstairs and the Bob Tommey classroom/board room/gift boutique. My director-curator’s studio/office occupies the former window wrapped sleeping porch. The upstairs library, with a loveseat, tables and chairs from Katherine Hyde’s original furnishings, offers a quiet reading room and salon for sampling the more than 400 art-related books and media on the shelves of the library’s growing collection.
Shortly after taking my position as director-curator in 2015, I and my board of directors had the great pleasure of naming artCentral’s library in honor of former director Sally Armstrong. With her careful curation during her tenure, Sally created today’s lending library which is just one of the many benefits available with a supportive membership donation to artCentral.
When I ask Sally for the library’s backstory she explains, “Initially I found very limited art volumes at Hyde House. The idea occurred to me that I could donate my own extensive art library—a lifetime collection of art references, histories and texts—to fill in the gaps.’’ She realized, “I could still have use of these books, but make them available to others and gain valuable shelf space in my home. I added some smaller donations of books offered from members closing out their own collections, and then I began buying specific titles relating to various workshops we held, such as life drawing and pastels, as well as topics relating to summer artCamp classes like needle felting and Manga art.”
“I like to think this library is a resource of riches available to both members and our local art students, to be used by them for both leisure and education. Current categories include art history, artists in various media, ceramics, sculpture, photography, sequential art, western art, famous museum collections and art business including art sales, pricing, marketing and exhibiting.” An additional category, one of my own favorites, includes art-related novels, both fiction and non-fiction.
Recently over lunch, Sally shows me her newest novelistic donation for artCentral’s shelves, “Sargent’s Women: Four Lives Behind the Canvas” by Donna M. Lucey. I immediately exercise my director-curator privilege and drop this beauty into my book bag to take home and pre-read before shelving at artCentral.
For me reading is a best-loved part of any day. In the evening after my husband, David, builds a fire, we settle into our comfy chairs with puppies beside us for some page-turning time before bed. The 246 pages of “Sargent’s Women” turned much too quickly. This fascinating multilayered biography is based on letters and diaries that tell the stories of women whose mysteries, passions and forbidden love affairs challenged society’s restrictions.
David’s next in line to enjoy this artful narrative. Just as soon as he finishes his turn, you’ll find this treasure ready for your borrowing from artCentral’s Sally Armstrong Library—the room full of books at Hyde House.