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At Seminole library, artists add pictures to words, walls

Thanks to two Seminole artists, the walls of the Seminole Community Library have been graced by paintings by area artists since 1993.

Inger Allen and Florence Dodd were the first to show their works there, said Dodd, 82, who worked with Allen, 89, until Allen experienced health problems.

Today, Dodd gets help from Belleair Bluffs artist Claire E. Paultre, whose works are currently on display.

"Artists have to get out, be seen and get a name for themselves," said Allen, who still runs the art program for the Gulf Beaches Public Library in Madeira Beach, something she started in 1961. "We thought the library would be a good place for artists to show their works."

Shortly after the Seminole Community Library opened in 1992, the women approached Pat Bartell, who was then the library director, about their idea. The first show was in conjunction with the library's first anniversary party.

"We felt that the patrons of the new Seminole library should be able to enjoy artwork while they browsed," Dodd said. "In those days, Inger and I even bought the hooks and chains for hanging the pictures."

The library has an arrangement to receive 10 percent of the proceeds from the sale of any painting bought while on display. The money goes to buy art books, Dodd said.

The artists behind this effort are members of the Art Guild of Treasure Island. They paint in seminars there at least once a week.

Dodd, the widow of William L. Dodd, a two-time Seminole City Council member, took art classes wherever she and her husband lived _ in New Jersey and even in Heidelberg, Germany. Her husband died in 1992.

"I mainly do watercolors," she said. "I don't paint to sell, but more for my own enjoyment." She also paints for her four grown children and seven grandchildren. "Painting is a wonderful outlet for me," Dodd said.

Allen had art lessons as a child in Gatlinburg, Tenn., and studied at the Tappon Art School in Knoxville, Tenn., the University of Dayton and the Dayton Art Institute.

Also a watercolor specialist, Allen taught art for 20 years in her Seminole home and through the Treasure Island Recreation Department. She has won nearly three dozen art awards, and her paintings are included in corporate and private collections.

"Painting is the happiest part of my life," Allen said.

Paultre, 63, learned to paint under the tutelage of her mother, Clemence, in their native Port-au-Prince, Haiti. Her 91-year-old mother now lives with Paultre and her husband of 42 years, Guy.

The Paultres came to the United States in 1958 and moved to Florida in 1983. Paultre, who works in acrylics and other media, has a master's degree in art from Howard University in Washington, D.C. She belongs to several art groups, including the Largo Art Association, the Beach Art Center, the Tarpon Springs Art Association, the Garden Gallery of Gulfport and others.

Her work recently was shown at the St. Petersburg Public Library.

"To me, the preparation, the process and the expectation that goes into creating a work of art excites me," Paultre said. "When I am able to show and freeze the moment the light catches the right spot, I know why I like to paint."