Recently donated artworks to the Westport Library include, clockwise from left: “Stepping Out on Faith” by Charles Joyner; “Muhammad Ali, Jake’s Diner, Athens, Ohio” by Richard Frank; “Tipetano” by Fred Otnes; “The Chambers Encyclopaedia” by Otnes, and “October” also by Otnes.

WESTPORT — Visitors to the Westport Library will find the most “remarkable” recent additions to its myriad offerings not among its voluminous collection of volumes or its assortment of audio-visual and technological tools, but on its walls.

Five artworks recently donated to the library’s collection are now on display, library officials announced this week.

All of the artists have ties to Westport.

The artworks include: two collage paintings and one collage illustration by Fred Otnes, donated by the Robert K. Otnes Trust; a piece donated by artist Charles Joyner, and a photo of boxer Muhammad Ali donated by photographer Richard Frank.

The two Otnes paintings and the Joyner painting hang in the mezzanine, while the Otnes illustration is displayed in a conference room. The photo of Ali image is in the first-floor stairwell.

“Westport has a long and rich tradition of fostering artists and honoring their work,” Carole Erger-Fass, the library’s exhibit curator, said in a library publicity statement. 

“We are very proud to be part of that tradition and incredibly fortunate to receive so many amazing pieces to add to our collection,” she added. “We thank all our generous donors, and we invite all our patrons to visit and see them in person.”

Otnes, born in the Midwest, moved to Westport in 1953 and worked at Rahl Studios in New York. He remained in the area most of his life and died in Westport in 2015 at the age of 89.

Joyner, a native North Carolinian, as a 16-year-old came to Westport in 1964 through the American Friends Service Committee’s “Southern Negro Student Program.” A Quaker initiative, the program placed southern Black students with families in the North for their high school education. Joyner graduated from Staples High School in 1966.

An exhibit of work by Joyner was displayed earlier this year in the library’s Sheffer Gallery. The painting donated to the library by Joyner was featured in that exhibit.

Frank has lived in Westport more than 30 years, and in addition to his professional achievements, documented the library’s transformation project, completed in 2019.

Frank photographed Ali at Jake’s Diner in Athens, Ohio, in 1969.

“I was having a cup of coffee at 11 p.m., and to my surprise Muhammad Ali walked in, surrounded by an entourage of students,” Frank said in the library press statement.

“Although I was awed by his presence, I summoned up the nerve and asked him if he would mind taking his picture,” he said. “I quickly decided that the best vantage point would be from behind the counter and managed to keep the camera steady enough to capture this moment.”

Learn more about the Westport Library’s art collection and related programs by visiting its webpage.