Teenagers, mothers holding children's hands and other folks dropped by the Selma Burke Community Room at the Mooresville Public Library to meet artist Rusty Cooke. Some youngsters approached shyly, while others listened intently as Cooke described his work.
One young girl broke from the conversation to go on a self-guided tour.
"I like it," she muttered softly as she viewed a surrealist painting.
Everyone gravitated to the abstract works painted in muted reds, yellows and blues. The atmosphere was upbeat, not subdued as it is in some museums. Visitors, eager to share their impressions, engaged in lively discussions with Cooke and each other.
Cooke was receptive to varying interpretations. He listened and then imparted his thoughts, echoing his philosophy.
For example, while pointing to "Ded Dreaded," he discussed the implications of greed and said people can humble themselves and become open to a larger understanding.
In another painting, Cooke delved into humanity's core to prick the awareness of the soul. He talked about ways to find peace and enlightenment. All the pieces have a spiritual undertone.
"I look at the blank canvas and let the spirit lead me," said Cooke.
Besides abstract art, he paints portraits. His images of library benefactor Lutell Sherrill Williams and artist and sculptor Selma Burke hang on a wall outside the Burke room. On another wall is his depiction of the N.C. state seal.
"We wanted to honor Selma Burke, so we decided to bring in Rusty, who painted a picture of her, and we invited him to bring his other works," said Allie Coltren, vice president of the Teen Advisory Board at the Mooresville Library.
Cooke's portfolio contains examples of his faux painting, decorative arts and painted signs. He described this work as the "bread and butter of his business."
Donations to Salvation Army
Opportunities exist to support the work of the Salvation Army. The Thrift Store at 1162 W. Front St., in Statesville, accepts furniture and clothing. Caseworker/donation scheduler Edith Miles routes trucks to donors for pickups.
Appliances that are no longer usable can be sold as scrap. Unstained mattresses can be sanitized and sold as used.
Homeless people moving to apartments or people released from prison may need furniture, and victims of fire and flooding may need help. Besides providing physical aid, the charitable group, along with area churches, sponsors a summer camp. Nine children from Mooresville and Troutman attended Camp Walter Johnson for five days last summer. Capt. Glenda Priest said it's a tremendous opportunity for youngsters. Salvation Army officers and staff provide programs. Counselors and a registered nurse are on site.
The organization has been involved in relief work in Haiti for years. Donations are being accepted for disaster aid.
Mail checks to the Salvation Army, 800 Monroe St., Statesville, NC 28677. Donors can designate funds for the Mooresville/Troutman camp and/or Haiti.