The St. Petersburg Library exhibits a painting aptly titled “The Page Turner”

PETERSBURG – Philanthropist Bill Nicholson contributes one of his favorite paintings by Catherine Venable, aptly titled “The Page Turner” to the Petersburg Public Library.

“It captures the essence of Petersburg, its heart and soul,” Nicholson said.

Nicholson first saw Venable’s painting at the Petersburg Area Art League’s “Petersburg On My Mind” exhibition in April.

“I couldn’t allow ‘The Page Turner’ to leave Petersburg,” said Nicholson, owner of the historic Thomas Day House on the High Street. “I contacted Catherine and informed her that I wished to acquire and donate the coin to a permanent home here … where it belongs.”

Library Services Manager Wayne M. Crocker enthusiastically agrees and proudly displays Venable’s masterpiece in the library.

Painting by the artist Catherine Venable "The page turner" presents restaurants, churches and buildings of interest of St. Petersburg as squares in the quilt of the work of art.

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Master of imagery

When Venable was preparing for the PAAL art exhibition, she spent a lot of time in the library researching the history of Petersburg.

“What a fascinating history your city is contemplating,” said Venable. “I was fascinated by the stories, history, industry and architecture incorporated into the books.”

Venable chose the quilt pattern for “The Page Turner” so that he could capture different images of Petersburg in his squares.

“My options were fantastic,” Venable exclaimed.

Left to right, Bill Nicholson, artist Catherine Venable and Director of Library Services Wayne M. Crocker pose for a photo next to Venable's

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The restoration inhabits most of the buildings that Venable has chosen to return to the squares.

“It captures the current industrious community that abounds in the downtown area,” Venable said.

“The two historic churches, First Baptist and Gillford are represented because they are the oldest African American churches in the nation,” Venable said. “The congregation worshiped together, created the first local school, and fought for their civil rights.”

According to Venable, the woman sewing recognizable landmarks on the quilt is proud of her heritage and historically rich community.

“The woman in the background lounging with her friend hands her friend a square that needs to be included in the embroidery,” Venable explained. “With a green background stands the now demolished Underground Railroad that once stood on Pocahontas Island.”

Venable travels and paints all over the world. His works reveal his vision, imagination, creativity, love, humanism and inspiration for the people and stories around him.

“Remembering our history helps us move forward,” said Venable.

The Petersburg Public Library is located at 201 W. Washington Street. For more information, including hours of operation, visit

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