John Spevak: Library fundraiser features art, wine, food and music

September 20, 2012 

Many in Los Banos take pleasure in reading books and enjoying art. So it seems natural that the next fundraiser by Friends of the Los Banos Library will bring together both of these pleasures.

On Oct. 25, Friends will be sponsoring a convivial evening in the library featuring local artists displaying small works of arts.

"What could be more enjoyable," you might ask, dear reader, "than being in the presence of good books and fine art?"

I have an answer: "Include wine, appetizers, desserts and music."

All of these components will be a part of the Friends fundraiser, which members are calling "A Small Works of Art Sale."

It will be held on the last Thursday of October from 5 to 8 p.m. at the Los Banos branch of the Merced County Library, 1312 S. Seventh St.

One goal of the event is to let people view small works of art by local artists, and, if so inclined, to purchase one or more of these works of art. But a second goal, equally important to Friends, is for people to have a good time.

For Friends, a good time includes sipping wine from California wineries, tasting homemade appetizers and desserts, and enjoying background music performed by Pacheco High School students.

Tickets for this event are $20 and can be purchased from any Friend of the Library, as well as at the Phoenix Bookstore in downtown Los Banos, 936 Sixth St. Because the library has a limited capacity, the number of tickets is also limited.

The idea for this unique event came from Friend of the Library Patti Ryan, who organizes the library's rotating displays of local artists. She has received many compliments about the art from library patrons.

Patti also understands how desperately the library needs help. Throughout the state, budgets for public libraries have been slashed. These financial problems also affect Merced County, which funds libraries through the county, including Los Banos.

The county library no longer has funds to purchase magazine subscriptions for Los Banos; the Friends pay for them. The county library has a budget which includes precious little money for books; it relies on Friends to help purchase them for Los Banos.

So, Patti thought, since we have a need to raise more funds, why not put a little fun into a new fundraiser? And why not bring artists and readers together while they taste wine and enjoy appetizers and desserts?

In planning this for the last nine months, Patti has received encouragement and support from local individuals and businesses that have donated money and materials to cover the costs of the event.

Patti has also been encouraged by the response from local artists. They look forward to displaying their works. Many plan to be at the Oct. 25 event to talk with the people attending. Some of their work will be available for direct purchase, and some will be part of a silent auction.

All of the participating artists have agreed to donate 40 percent of their sales to the Friends of the Los Banos Library. So every art sale, as well as every ticket sale, will help support the library and the importance of reading.

You may still have, dear reader, one more question. You may be asking, "Why is this an evening which features SMALL works of art?"

There are at least two reasons. First, our library is small. In order to get the widest variety of art work, Patti has asked artists to bring some of their smaller works, which include paintings, drawings, sculpture, pottery and jewelry.

Second, in most people's lives today, both space and money are tight. Most people don't have space in their homes for massive landscapes or large sculptures. But they do have room, on a wall or a shelf, for just the right small work of art. And small artwork generally is less expensive than large works.

The result of all this thinking is a fun fundraiser with superb art, food, wine and music.

That's one of the best evenings I can imagine.

Comments on the writings of John Spevak, an Enterprise columnist for 29 years, are encouraged, and can be sent via email to

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