In Memory of Marguerite Bierman
On October 30, 2013, the James V. Brown Library lost one of its most loyal, creative and generous friends: Marguerite Bierman.
Marguerite was a talented and gifted painter who was known for large public commissions, including the foyer and Rotunda room at the library.
Samuel Dornsife, a former member of the library’s board of trustees, gave Marguerite her first big commission: repainting the library’s reference room. She researched the original 1907 color scheme that was created by Edgar Seeler, of Philadelphia, the original artist.
The foyer ceiling is painted ethereal lavender, mint green and lime to match the stained-glass windows in the adjacent rotunda. To mimic the open-air atriums of classic Pompeii, the ceiling was painted cerulean blue. The colors symbolize a search for truth: the earthy sidewalls represent observed, scientific truths; the sky colors of the ceiling symbolize the search for spiritual truth.
Marguerite also commissioned the installation of a gazebo in the library’s reading room. The gazebo, named Respite & Ingenuity, was created in memory of her parents, Lt. Col. Clarence E. and Priscilla Bierman, and her sister, Suzette L. Bierman Bedford.
The gazebo was created in the Beaux-Arts style of the library. It was designed by Bierman to be a “hub of inherited knowledge” created to evoke repose and creative thought and reintroducing art to a place known for inspiring contemplation. The gazebo represents the motifs of the old reference room by aligning its classical swirls, loops and circles to the original architecture of the building.
“The room itself is like a cathedral of learning,” Bierman said during the gazebo’s unveiling in 2010. “It shows a lot of respect for the inherited knowledge here, and there’s a cultural heritage also in the beauty of the (building’s) structure.”
She also oversaw the restoration of the six large stained-glass panels that depict the “Dream of Rhonabwy,” a 13th century Welsh prose tale. The stained-glass panels hang in the atrium area of the three floors of the Welch Wing.
She also gifted the library with a large “Joan of Arc” painting that is in the second floor foyer of the Vintage building near the Welch Wing and a large painting in the executive director’s office.
In 2011, Marguerite also received the Carile Brown Award from the Friends of the James V. Brown Library, which is given to someone whose sustained and dedication to the library and the community has helped carry on the goals of founders James V. and Carile Brown.
Marguerite also spearheaded a community-wide effort to restore and preserve the works of Frances Tipton Hunter, an artist from Williamsport who created popular paintings for magazines during the 1930s.
On November 24, Marguerite also will be honored during the annual Benjamin Franklin Society celebration, which recognizes loyal donors to the James V. Brown’s Library.
It is with great sadness that the Library mourns the loss of a great artist, friend and loyal supporter.