Saint Petersburg Library exhibits painting aptly titled ‘The Page Turner’

“It captures the essence of Petersburg, its heart and soul” – Bill Nicholson

PETERSBURG — Philanthropist Bill Nicholson is contributing to the Petersburg Public Library with one of his favorite Catherine Venable paintings, aptly titled ‘The Page Turner.’

“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, which was the most successful opening both in terms of sales and attendance that PAAL has seen for years.

“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 wish to acquire and donate the piece to a permanent residence here…where it belongs.”

Director of Library Services, Wayne M. Crocker, enthusiastically accepted and proudly displays Venable’s masterpiece in the library.

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Master of Imagery

When venerable was getting ready for ALAP art exhibition, she spent a lot of time in the library researching the history of Petersburg.

“What a fascinating history your city sees,” Venable said. “I was captivated by the stories, history, industry and architecture embedded in the books.”

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

“My options were fantastic,” exclaimed Venable.

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The catering business occupies most of the buildings that Venable has chosen to return to the plazas.

“It reflects the ongoing industrious community that abounds downtown,” Venable said.

“Both 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, established the first local school, and fought for their civil rights.”

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

“The woman in the background lounging with her friend hands her friend a square that needs to be included in the seam,” 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, his imagination, his creativity, his love, his humanitarianism and his inspiration for the people and stories around him.

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

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

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– Kristi K. Higgins, aka The Social Butterfly columnist, is the food news and Q&A reporter at The Progress-Index. Do you have a current tip on local trends or businesses? Contact Kristi (her, her) at [email protected], follow @KHiggins_PI on Twitter and subscribe to