As DeAnne Parks paints, she jots down notes on index cards that she keeps on her easel. She writes down bits of poems. Or Bible verses. On cards under her current project, a large painting with vivid circles and rays of light, she's written words and phrases including "cells," "community" and "old timey music circles."

"All of my paintings are about community, joy, hope, faith, love ... or one of those things," she said.

Because of her focus on community, Parks seems an appropriate artist to feature at the first show of the Rosemount Art Gallery, a new dedicated gallery space that opened in January in the Robert Trail Library. The first show features three Rosemount artists: Parks, Cheryl Kluender and Rita Corrigan.

"This is really our first public art display in Rosemount," said John Loch, program chairman of the Rosemount Area Arts Council (RAAC). Loch, also a member of the Friends of the Library, contacted the library about setting up a gallery space, and he said the library "got on board very, very quickly."

Jamie Jurgensen, branch manager at the Robert Trail Library, said the library used funds from its ongoing book sale to purchase a hanging system.

"It's such an exciting collaboration," she said. "We're just really excited that we can add local art. We think everyone will benefit from it."

The new space allows about 120 feet of space for exhibits. "The entire north wall is broken up with windows," Loch said, "but other than that, it's a completely blank space."

"There's great light," said Parks. "It's a large, bright, well-lit space."

Artwork will switch out every few months. After the first exhibit, the space will open up to other Dakota County artists. Jurgensen said she's especially eager to be able to feature student artwork.

"The sky's the limit," Loch said.

Parks works as an artist-in-residence at Thomas Lake Elementary in Eagan and teaches art to kids with depression issues. She said she likes that artwork will be on display in a popular hangout for local youth.

"That place is just packed with middle-schoolers after school," she said.

"The arts center is right next door to the library, so that's a plus, too," said Kluender, visual arts chairwoman for the Rosemount Area Arts Council. Her works will also be displayed.

The Steeple Center, a multiuse facility adjacent to the library, is a hub for the arts council's activities. The council recently received a $10,000 grant to display artwork at the center, a project currently in process. Loch said that because the Steeple Center is a multiuse space with limited wall space but large amounts of floor space, they plan to focus on having standing displays in the center of the facility, which will display for shorter periods of time.

"We see the library being for the long exhibits," Loch said, "and the Steeple Center for shorter displays."

"We're really kind of thrilled because three months ago, there was no place to display any kind of arts [in Rosemount]," Loch said.

"RAAC is doing so many cool things," Parks said. "It's made living in Rosemount wonderful because they've done so many things. I can't believe what they've done in five years."

Liz Rolfsmeier is a Twin Cities freelancer.