Art for literacy

Local artist and business owner teaming up to help libraries in need

Artist RaRa Schlitt sits with some of her paintings. RaRa is donating all the proceeds from the artwork on display at Southland Books to the Walland Elementary and Rockford Elementary libraries.

Artist RaRa Schlitt sits with some of her paintings. RaRa is donating all the proceeds from the artwork on display at Southland Books to the Walland Elementary and Rockford Elementary libraries.

A local artist and a local bookstore owner are joining together to help raise money for two elementary school libraries that are in need of financial support.

Lisa Misosky, owner of Southland Books in Maryville, and local philanthropic artist Ra Ra Schlitt are working together to help Walland and Rockford elementary schools.

Because of the sagging economy, the Blount County school system made cutbacks to many school programs. One of the hard-hit school assets was the school library system, which has had operating budgets completely removed from the county budget.

“In terms of having a budget line item to purchase books, that’s not longer there,” confirmed Blount County Schools director Rob Britt.

This decision has been especially hard on two local elementary schools, Walland and Rockford Elementary. Both of these schools operate in a high poverty zone, and have found it difficuilt to provide adequate resources to encourage literacy.

Lisa Misosky and Ra Ra Schlitt have created a project to bring much needed aid to these schools. Schlitt, a dynamic artist who has merged literature and art in a series of paintings now on display at Southland Books, is donating all proceeds from this series to the Rockford and Walland libraries.

Phylis Garner, principal of Walland Elementary School, said, “It’s great to see an artist like Ra Ra, who is both an artist and a writer, come forward to help our kids’ libraries in these times of budget shortfalls.”

Southland Books is asking that all checks for the purchase of a Schlitt painting be made out directly to either Rockford or Walland Elementary School Library. When asked about the effort, Misosky said, “Both Ra Ra and Southland Books are committed to helping further the availability of books and resources to those kids who need it the most. We have a wonderful array of over 20 paintings on display throughout the bookstore. The prices range from $65 to $225. It’s art for any budget, and it helps the kids.”

The goal for this project is to raise $1,000 apiece for the Rockford and Walland Elementary school libraries.

Britt praised Misosky and Schlitt for their initiative to help the libraries at the two schools. “They’re exactly right. Those schools have significant challenges in this budgetary time of fiscal distress. I think it is fantastic that someone has taken such a wonderful interest in those libraries and are helping students in those libraries obtain reading material they need that we can’t otherwise provide,” Britt said. “I’m so appreciative of Lisa and Ra Ra.”

To view or purchase the Ra Ra Schlitt paintings, visit Southland Books, 801 East Broadway, Maryville. The operating hours for Southland Books are 10 a.m. to 7 p.m. Monday through Saturday and 12 p.m. to 5 p.m. on Sundays.

If you would like more information, contact Southland Books at 865-984-4847, or send an email to Southlandbooks@yahoo.com.

Lance Coleman, editor of Blount Today, contributed to this story.

© 2010 blounttoday.com. All rights reserved. This material may not be published, broadcast, rewritten or redistributed.

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