March is Women’s History Month

Two large flowers: a pink hibiscus above a white plumeria, with other yellow petals behind the plumeria and a blue background above the hibiscus. Overall, a bright pastel compostion.
Georgia O’Keeffe, Hibiscus with Plumeria, 1939, oil on canvas, Smithsonian American Art Museum, gift of Same Rose and Julie Walters, 2004.30.6

By Emily B.

In honor of Women’s History Month, let’s take a closer look at the “Mother of American Modernism,” Georgia O’Keeffe. One of the most prolific artists of the 20th century, O’Keeffe is best known for her large-scale paintings of flowers.

O’Keeffe was born in Wisconsin in 1887, the second of seven children. By age 10, O’Keeffe decided she would be an artist. Her big break came in 1916 when, unbeknownst to her, famed photographer Alfred Stieglitz presented her art in New York City. This marked the beginning of O’Keeffe and Stieglitz’s tumultuous relationship. O’Keeffe would soon move to New York and become Stieglitz’s muse, appearing in hundreds of his photographs. The pair would go on to marry, following an intense affair.

O’Keeffe’s marriage to Stieglitz, who was 23 years her senior, was far from perfect. Though Stieglitz provided O’Keeffe with studio space and connections in the art world, there was a major power imbalance and he was not faithful. His long-term affair with another photographer took a toll on O’Keeffe’s mental health. Despite this, the pair remained married until Stieglitz’s death in 1946.
In the 1920s, O’Keefe began creating large-form flower paintings. Almost immediately, male art critics began to assert that the “essence of very womanhood permeates her pictures.” While her husband promoted and capitalized off these remarks, O’Keeffe was not comfortable with the claims. She said, “…when you took time to really notice my flower, you hung all your own associations with flowers on my flower and you write about my flower as if I think and see what you think and see of the flower — and I don’t.”

O’Keeffe’s artistry was highly sought after. In 1938, she was sent to Hawaii on an all-expenses paid trip, where she was meant to produce a pineapple painting for an advertisement campaign. After nine weeks in Hawaii, O’Keefe had the beginnings of many beautiful works depicting Hawaii and its flora, but there was nary a pineapple painting. She would not complete the contracted pineapple painting until the fruit was shipped to her in New York City.

Through her career, O’Keeffe would befriend other artistic greats. O’Keeffe and Ansel Adams had a friendship spanning 50 years, no doubt bonding over their deep passion for the natural world. O’Keeffe befriended Frida Kahlo in 1931 and there is evidence to suggest they perhaps were romantically involved.

Throughout her life, Georgia’s passion for art never wavered. Even as she grew frail and her eyesight began to deteriorate, continued painting with assistance and even learned to work with clay. O’Keeffe’s appreciation for nature is timeless and is surely why she has remained one of the most beloved American artists.

Artwork by Georgia O’Keeffe and her artist friends is available to borrow from the Art Education Collection at the Central and Glenwood branches.

Emily is an Instructor & Research Specialist at the Central Branch. She enjoys puzzling, reading, listening to music, and re-watching old seasons of Survivor. 

Selected Women’s History Month Classes

Creating the Legacy
For adults. Register here.
In the world of codes and ciphers, women have always played a role. Throughout American history, women have provided vital information to military leaders, searched for enemy secrets, and pioneered new scientific fields. Learn about the contributions and talents women have brought to cryptology. Presented by Jennifer Wilcox, Director of Education for the National Cryptologic Museum.
Sat, Mar 11; 3 – 4 pm
Savage Branch

Forgotten Women Writers of the 17th Century and Beyond
For adults. Register here.
Women’s History Month provides the perfect time to recognize that for every Austen, Dickinson, and Bronte, another unheard-of author lived who was every bit as good! Discover new-to-you women authors to add to your To Be Read list.
Wed, Mar 15; 7 – 8 pm
Central Branch

Women’s History Month Button Making
For all ages; under 12 must be accompanied by an adult. Register here.
Votes for Women! Celebrate the historical significance of buttons in the women’s suffrage movement by making one. Design your own or use a template featuring historical women’s suffrage slogans and important women throughout history.
Wed, Mar 22; 7 – 8 pm       
Central Branch

Amazing Women: How Did They Build That?
Ages 6-10, 45 minutes. Ticketed; free tickets available in branch 15 mins before class.
Learn about artist/architects Maya Lin and Zaha Hadid, the innovative structures they created, and how they stay up. Design and build structures with various materials.
Fri, Mar 31; 2 – 2:45 pm
Central Branch

Puzzle and Board Game Swap

The photograph shows a wooden table with an assortment of 500- and 1000-piece puzzles in boxes on top. A puzzle with a rainy street view of Paris, with the Eiffel Tower in the background, is put together on the table surface. A wooden giraffe also stands on the table.
Photo by Simon Hurry on Unsplash.

by Emily B.

Over the last few years, there’s been a growing interest in board games and puzzles. This likely started due to the stay-at-home orders at the beginning of the pandemic. In the years following, their popularity has continued. Board games provide an engaging experience with friends and family, shared through competition or collaboration, while puzzles also offer solo and group fun. Working on a puzzle can be meditative, and it provides a great way to de-stress while engaging the mind. Ever since completing my first 1,000-piece puzzle a few years ago, puzzles have been my favorite way to unwind after work.

If you’re a puzzle or board game fanatic, you won’t want to miss the Community Puzzle & Board Game Swap happening at HCLS Central Branch on Sunday, January 29 from 1:30 – 3:30 pm. The swap is the perfect time to trade any games or puzzles that you no longer need for something new to you. Puzzles and games need to include all their pieces.

To participate, bring any gently used board games or puzzles that you would like to swap. When you arrive, you can trade your items with other attendees or with any donated items. Feel free to share your best gaming and puzzling tips with other attendees and learn about upcoming puzzle- and game-related events at HCLS. In addition to swapping, you can learn about all of the free eResources available through HCLS that you can use while puzzling and gaming.

Donations of gently used board games and puzzles will be accepted if you are not interested in swapping anything. You may bring donations to HCLS Central Branch. These donations will be available for swappers on January 29.  

Click here for the full details on the event. 

We hope to see you there!  

Emily is an Instructor & Research Specialist at the Central Branch. She enjoys puzzling, reading, listening to music, and re-watching old seasons of Survivor. 

Spooky Kanopy Picks

by Emily B.

Did you know you can use your library card to watch eight movies every month on Kanopy? Here are some spooky films to check out this October.

The image depicts a woman on pointe shoes in profile with her arms raised above her head and her head thrown back. The red of her dress runs down her legs and shoes and onto the ground, puddling as if it is blood.

Suspiria (1977) 

An American ballet student discovers that sinister things are afoot at a prestigious German dance academy. The film is regarded as one of the most influential horror films, with its striking visuals and haunting soundtrack.  

The image depicts a house on a distant hill against the backdrop of a cloudy sky. In the foreground are two men and two women and, superimposed above them, another man looking to the side with a slightly shocked expression and an eyebrow raised. The title of the film has a noose for the "o" in the word "House."

House on Haunted Hill (1959) 

An eccentric millionaire invites five strangers to a party at a haunted house, offering $10,000 to whomever survives the night. Partially inspired by Shirley Jackson’s The Haunting of Hill House, this film has solidified itself as a campy horror classic.  

The movie poster depicts a silhouette of the Babadook surrounding an open door and two windows, as if the Babadook is the house containing them. Viewed through the open door are two children, one perched above the other, both looking out as if into the dark.

The Babadook (2014) 

A widow struggles to raise her young son, who is convinced that a character from a pop-up book is real and lurking around their home. 

The movie cover depicts a train in the background, with smoke and fire as if there has been an accident. In the foreground are several people fleeing the carnage, including a man carrying a young child whose face looks back a the train.

Train to Busan (2016) 

A man and his daughter attempt to survive a rapidly-spreading zombie infection that breaks out while they are on the train. This record-breaking Korean film will soon undergo an American remake. 

The movie cover depicts half of a woman's face from the neck up; she wears a coronet of flowers and greenery and appears frightened or distressed.

Midsommar (2019) 

A woman accompanies her boyfriend and his friends on a trip to Sweden for a midsummer festival and chaos ensues. Don’t let the beautiful setting and cheery color palate of the film deceive you – Midsommar is one of the most disturbing horror films I’ve ever seen.

The movie cover image depicts two children standing at the end of a hallway flooded with water. There are doors to their left and high windows to their right all along the sides of the hall. One child looks straight at the camera; the other is looking down and wears a facial-obscuring hoodie.

Dark Water (2002) 

A woman, in the midst of divorce negotiations, moves to a run-down apartment with her young daughter. A mysterious ceiling leak and ghostly appearances ensue. In 2005, an American remake of this Japanese film starring Jennifer Connelly was released.

You can borrow Midsommar, Dark Water, Train to Busan, The Babadook, and House on Haunted Hill on DVD, too.

Emily is an Instructor & Research Specialist at the Central Branch. She enjoys reading, listening to music, and re-watching old seasons of Survivor.

Staff Favorites from the Art Education Collection

Sisters in Link by Charles Bibbs: Five women dressed in red with patterned skirts and colored tights looking at each other with their arms linked.
Sisters in Link by Charles Bibbs

by Emily B.

October is National Arts & Humanities Month, so I decided to ask my Central Branch teammates about their favorite artists and art works from the Art Education Collection. Here’s what they had to say:

April and Wendy love Van Gogh. April’s favorite work is Starry Night. She appreciates “his colors and his unique brushstrokes. You definitely know a Van Gogh when you see one.” Wendy’s favorite work is Farmhouse in Provence. She says, “I’ve always loved Van Gogh because of the bright colors he used, the soft focus, and the imperfect, rustic style. His work is very emotional.”

Angela and Rita are big fans of Charles Bibbs. Rita applauds Bibbs’ “powerful cross-cultural statements,” “the [breathtaking] colors and details,” and “[his promotion of] African American culture.” Angela’s favorite piece is Sisters in Link. She enjoys “the bright vibrant colors of the dresses of the piece, and the dramatic flair of the ladies’ poses,” as well as how the ladies appear “full of life and joy.” She notes how Bibbs creates an “illusion of movement.”

Brandon loves the Art Education Collection. His favorite piece is San Francisco Cable Car, Rain by Judy Reed. He says, “It captures the essence of the Bay area, [the beauty] of Northern California, and illustrates the significance [of] the cable car transportation system.”

Cherise and Angie enjoy Ernie Barnes. Angie’s favorite piece is Uptown Downtown. She was instantly hooked on Barnes when she saw Marvin Gaye’s I Want You album cover, which features his most famous piece, The Sugar Shack. She describes his art as “kinetic and mesmerizing” and continues, “The painting is in constant motion and makes you want to know more about the people in it, where they are going, and where they have been.” Cherise favors Sam & Sidney from Barnes. She says, “I wonder what they are talking about and hope that they are being open-minded in their debate. I am intrigued by the dialogue that Barnes is creating between an African American artist born into a segregated culture and his subjects from a very different background.”

Floral mosaic with a yellow flower, green leaves, and bright blue accents.

Lami’s favorite piece is Carol Murray’s photograph entitled Baltimore Cookie House Tour. She says, “The piece evokes feelings of comfort and peace for me. The intricate mosaic design…brings to mind being curled up near a fireplace with heat from the flames gently lulling you to sleep.” Lami appreciates that this piece gives her the opportunity to admire both the photographic technique and the mosaic work.

Hannah enjoys the mystery of Yasuo Kuniyoshi’s Little Joe with Cow. The painting is a great source of debate among Central teammates, Hannah explains. “Do we find him creepy or cute? How did the cow become triangular? Who keeps putting him back in storage instead of on display?!” Hannah looks back at Kuniyoshi’s life: “[he] immigrated [to] the U.S. [from Japan] at age 16, was never given full U.S. citizenship, and was placed under house arrest following the attack on Pearl Harbor.” She notes that, “while this artwork was completed 18 years prior… I believe these aspects of Kuniyoshi’s childhood and adult life in the U.S. shed new perspective on little Joe – a small boy in a dark atmosphere leaning on his cow for support.”

You can find (and borrow) your favorites at Central and Glenwood Branches.

Emily is an Instructor & Research Specialist at the Central Branch. She enjoys reading, listening to music, and re-watching old seasons of Survivor.

Help with Your Hobbies

A yellow cover features a photo of a bright scarlet tanager, with its black wings. The title is in dark red lettering above the photograph.

by Emily B.

May is Older Americans Month and is the perfect time to start a new hobby with a little help from HCLS! Check out these great resources you can access for free with your library card.

Looking to get artsy? We’ve got some great DVD series to help you start. Craftsy offers hands-on lessons in creative mediums such as knitting, watercolors, crochet, and sewing. Interested in painting? Follow along with Bob Ross as he guides you every step of the way toward creating your own masterpiece in his art video series.

Interested in building a family tree and learning about your family’s history? Check out, via our online research tools, Ancestry Library Edition (only available in library branches), HeritageQuest, and MyHeritage Library Edition for access to billions of records from all around the world – including census records, immigration records, and beyond!

Budding photographers can head over to LinkedIn Learning for comprehensive video tutorials on topics like mobile photography, taking portraits, photo composition, photo editing, and more! Simply login with your library card and pin number to begin.

Take a hike! Check out Hike Maryland: A Guide to the Scenic Trails of the Free State for some scenic walks to take as the weather warms. See any birds on your hike? Check out Birds of Maryland, Delaware, and Washington, D.C. to learn more about the birds you encounter.

Expand your linguistic horizons and study a new language. For those who prefer to learn in quick, fun, daily lessons, Mango is a great option. Just download the free mobile app, select the language you want to learn, and start learning! For more immersive learning, Rosetta Stone offers structured lessons in reading, writing, speaking, and listening.

A white cover features white flat soup spoons, each filled with a different color spice.

Hoping to introduce some new recipes into your repertoire? Check out the Great Courses’ Everyday Gourmet DVD series. With courses on outdoor cooking, Mediterranean cooking, and cooking with vegetables, there’s something for every palate!

Emily is an Instructor & Research Specialist at the Central Branch. She enjoys reading, listening to music, and re-watching old seasons of Survivor.

A Tale of Two Real Housewives Books 

Light blue cover with gold type where the the O's have been replaced with fruit and a diamond.

by Emily B.

Over the past few years, Real Housewives of New York has become one of my go-to comfort shows. Is the premise of the show a bit shallow? Maybe it is, at least on the surface. Following a group of wealthy women who’ve been identified as “housewives” does sound vapid at first glance, but watch the show and you’ll realize there’s a lot more to it. We watch as the Housewives support and quarrel with each other, marriages dissolve, Housewives run into trouble with the law, Housewives embark on new business ventures. Once you dig deeper, Real Housewives provides an almost anthropological peek into the lives and relationships of women across the country – from Beverly Hills, CA to Potomac, MD.  

In 2021, fans of Bravo’s Real Housewives franchises were in luck – two insider accounts detailing the franchises’ histories were released. Only one of these books (Dave Quinn’s account) had the official blessing of Bravo executives, which led to a bit of drama, not unlike the shows!  

Dave Quinn’s Not All Diamonds and Rosé (also requestable as an ebook from Libby/OverDrive) is a fun and invigorating trip down memory lane for Housewives fans. It reads like one of the end-of-the-season reunions on the shows, when all the ladies gather to rehash big arguments and drama in hopes of resolving any unfinished business. Quinn dedicates a chapter to each franchise and guides us through the most memorable scenes. With constant commentary from the Housewives themselves, secrets are revealed and new perspectives are offered on some of the most iconic moments.  

Bright blue cover features simple illustrations of various characters from the show, with Andy Cohen sitting inside the O.

Brian Moylan’s The Housewives (also available in ebook and eaudiobook format from Libby/OverDrive) doesn’t offer quite as many juicy tidbits as Not All Diamonds and Rosé, but it’s no fault of Moylan’s. He wasn’t willing to bend to Bravo’s rules for the book and, thus, the Housewives were asked not to speak with him. This book, however, excels in its examinations of the fanbase and their perspectives. One of the most interesting chapters details a fan-attended Vicki Gunvalson weekend trip to Puerto Vallerta, where Moylan details his interactions with fellow super fans and Vicki herself. Moylan peppers in lists detailing essential episodes for first-time viewers as well as his ranking of Housewife-released dance singles.  

I highly recommend both of these books to any Real Housewives fan or to anyone curious to take a peek behind the scenes of a long-running reality franchise.  

Emily is an Instructor & Research Specialist at the Central Branch. She enjoys reading, listening to music, and re-watching old seasons of Survivor.  

Ernie Barnes: From Athlete to Artist

A painting by Ernie Barnes, The View, which showcases three African American women dressed in drapey formal dresses looking out at water and an urban skyline. The viewer only sees the women's elegant forms from behind as they are framed by red curtains. The palette is all golds and reds.
The View by Ernie Barnes

by Emily B.
Ernie Barnes was born in Durham, North Carolina in 1938, amidst harsh Jim Crow segregation laws. His love and appreciation for art was sparked at an early age. Young Barnes often accompanied his mother at work, where she oversaw the household of a prominent attorney. This early exposure to art proved to leave a lasting impact on Barnes.

Though art remained an important outlet throughout his early years, Barnes discovered a talent for football in high school. He attended college on an athletic scholarship (studying art, of course) and went on to play football professionally for five seasons. Much of his early work focused on his teammates. His athleticism had a marked influence on his art style, which was characterized by figures with closed eyes and elongated bodies. In an interview, Barnes recounted how a mentor told him “to pay attention to what my body felt like in movement. Within that elongation, there’s a feeling, an attitude and expression. I hate to think had I not played sports what my work would look like.”

After moving on from professional football, Barnes’ art became less sports-focused. He was often influenced and inspired by the communities and the people he interacted with most – ranging from depictions of Black Southern life (seen in pieces like Uptown Downtown and Each One, Teach One) to the Jewish community of Fairfax, California (seen in Sam & Sidney). Sugar Shack, far and away one of Barnes’ most popular paintings, has a storied history. The famous work, which depicts a jazz club packed with dancers, was painted in 1971 but reworked twice for famous clientele. First for use in the opening credits of Norman Lear’s Good Times and a second time to create a cover for Marvin Gaye’s album I Want You.

Though he passed in 2009, Barnes’ cultural impact lives on. His journey from a childhood in the Jim Crow-era south to becoming one of the first athletes with a celebrated career in art is impressive and inspiring. Several of Barnes’ paintings are available to borrow through the Art Education Collection at the Central and Glenwood Branches. Young readers may enjoy Between the Lines: How Ernie Barnes Went from the Football Field to the Art Gallery by Sandra Neil Wallace.

Emily is a Customer Service Specialist at the Central Branch. She enjoys reading, listening to music, and re-watching old seasons of Survivor.