The Children's Room of the Dimmick Memorial Library is a bit more inspiring thanks to the donation of a framed watercolor painting by artist Milan Melicharek of Orefield.
The painting, The Readers, depicting a brother and sister reading an oversized book on a sunlit hillside, is an example of what Melicharek describes as his "romantic realistic" style. The framed image is approximately 20-by-28 inches with a painting size of about 15-by-22 inches.
Melicharek, who created The Readers eight years ago, wanted to give back to the Dimmick Memorial Library for how much it meant to him while growing up. He was living on South Avenue in Jim Thorpe and as a teen, had a love for astronomy.
"I didn't have the money to buy books," Melicharek said. "it was easier to come here."
A tough kid growing up, Melicharek joined the military police during the Vietnam War. After graduating, he applied for the State Police and was accepted. Then, he had a change of heart.
"I don't think I want to do this for the rest of my life," he thought. "I'd rather teach kids."
So, Melicharek began the hardest years of his life – studying art education at Kutztown University. "College is tough," he said, "especially the term papers."
He succeeded, not only with a B.S. in Art Education, but went on to an equivalency Masters in Art Education, and 24 credits beyond. This qualified him for a 32-year career as a teacher at Northwestern Lehigh High School. He enjoyed it because, "kids are so hungry to learn," he said.
A prolific artist in watercolor and acrylic, Melicharek has produced over 500 works and is exhibited in six galleries. One of his paintings once hung in the White House.
About 30 years ago, just after Jimmy Carter had taken office, a decorator, looking for pieces to exhibit at the White House, selected a painting of a fisherman.
"Jimmy Carter is a fisherman," Melicharek noted. "He bought it for a couple of hundred dollars at the time."
For years, Melicharek had been away from his Jim Thorpe roots when a funeral drew him back to the area. At the funeral, he was reunited with old friends. After talking, Melicharek said, "I always thought about donating this piece to the library."
Tom McBride, Jeff James, and Bill Allison accepted the painting for the Dimmick Memorial Library Board of Trustees. The Readers painting is appraised at $1,200.
"It's beautiful," said board chairman McBride.
"It reflects the rich cultural heritage of our community," added Allison.
Because of his long teaching career, Melicharek often draws upon children as his subjects.
"I like to do paintings of children," he said. "I was thinking about education and because I'm involved with teaching, this ties in. I wanted something sunny, like up on a hill, and out in a field. They are brother and sister and they are close. They enjoy reading. To overemphasize education, I wanted to emphasize the book."
Melicharek is on the board of the Philadelphia Watercolor Society. The Readers is on permanent display at the Dimmick Memorial Library, 54 Broadway in Jim Thorpe.