There are examples of investors who buy works of art and then store them out of sight.
Peters Township residents William and Monica Merrell take pretty much the opposite approach.
“We have a lot of art in our home. The walls are completely filled,” Monica reported. “We like to change it out, so donating it is a good way for us to help other places brighten up, and to know that it’s being put in a good place to be viewed by more people.”
The Merrells’ latest gift is of six paintings to their favorite beneficiary, Peters Township Public Library.
“We are so grateful for their generous donation of artwork,” library director Lacey Love said, “as they are all beautiful pieces that we were excited to add to the library’s existing collection.”
The new paintings, all by contemporary artists, have been placed in the library’s second-floor study rooms to greet patrons who are able to visit again following access restrictions during the height of the COVID-19 pandemic.
Previously, the Merrells had contributed works including a forest scene by Texas photographer Cooper Slay and an “Alice in Wonderland” print from Walt Disney Studios.
“Bill and I really appreciate the library,” Monica said. “We were hoping the artwork would enhance it, and I think it does.”
Their collection represents an eclectic mix of styles and media, and they enjoy presenting the opportunity for others to view the variety.
“Sometimes, you don’t know what you like or what might interest you until you’re exposed to it,” Monica said. “Hopefully, it inspires people to be interested in something different.”
The Merrells often add to the collection through Michigan-based Park West Gallery, and they have invited to many of the company’s shows, meeting many prominent artists whose works they have purchased. Among them are Peter Max, best known for his 1960s work associated with the era’s pop art, and highly regard contemporary artists Alfred Gockel and Dominic Pangborn.
Along with Peters Township Public Library, the Merrells also have made donations to Peters Township and Canon-McMillan school districts, and they are working on further gifts to Upper St. Clair Township Library and Washington Hospital.
For the edification of students, they would place works of art in glass cases at Peters Township’s middle school and high school, complete with details about each of the pieces.
Their hope is that people’s curiosity will be piqued sufficiently to learn more.
“Not everybody decides to take a trip to the museum to go see art,” Monica said. “But maybe somebody would say, ‘Oh, you know what? Maybe we should go see something else.’”