Kerry James Marshall slams Chicago’s plan to sell painting to upgrade library

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Mayor Rahm Emanuel has decided not to sell “Knowledge and Wonder,” a Kerry James Marshall painting, to help pay for renovations at the Legler library branch, where the painting was displayed. It is now in storage, and will be restored and put back into the library once renovations are complete. | Provided

Artist Kerry James Marshall is slamming Mayor Rahm Emanuel and Cultural Affairs and Special Events Commissioner Mark Kelly for making the decision to sell his painting to refurbish a West Side library branch.

“I am certain they could get more money if they sold the Picasso sculpture in Daley Plaza,” Marshall told ARTnews. “Considering that only last year Mayor Emanuel and Commissioner Kelly dedicated another mural I designed downtown for which I was asked to accept one dollar, you could say the City of Big Shoulders has wrung every bit of value they could from the fruits of my labor.”

Emanuel wants to sell the painting, which could garner upwards of $15 million, to restore the Legler branch library, 115 S. Pulaski Road. Without the money from the painting sale, the city would need to spend about $11.2 million to expand the 36,000-square-foot library and another $1.7 million a year to expand its programming and operating hours to match the city’s two other regional libraries.

Marshall’s painting, “Knowledge and Wonder,” hangs on Legler’s second floor.

Kelly told the Sun-Times that the decision was a “difficult” one to make.

RELATED: City plan to sell $15M painting slammed as questionable way to upgrade library

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