Small-art fundraiser will return to library

September 5, 2013 

When you got a good thing going, go with it.

That's the approach the Friends of the Los Banos Library are taking to the Small-Art Sale and Social. Last year this fundraiser was so successful in generating good times and generous donations that the Friends will be doing it again this year.

On Oct. 24 the Friends will sponsor another convivial evening in the public library featuring local artists offering small works of art for sale.

The Thursday event will be held from 5 to 8 p.m. at the Los Banos branch of the Merced County Library, 1312 S. Seventh St. Besides many works of original art, the evening will feature wine, appetizers, desserts, and music.

Tickets for the Small-Art Sale and Social, priced at $20, can be purchased from any Friends of the Library member as well as at the Phoenix Bookstore in downtown Los Banos, 936 Sixth St.

Because the small local library has a limited capacity, the number of tickets for the event will once again be limited. Last year the event was sold out.

"We had such a terrific response last year from artists and from people interested in art," said Patti Ryan, the event chair in 2012 and 2013.

"People who attended the event," Ryan added, "said they appreciated not only the art but the home-made appetizers and desserts made by Becky Tietjen, the pleasant background music of Steve Gorman, and the wine as well."

All of these components will be back with the focus on small works of art. Most of the artists who displayed last year will return this year and several other artists will be joining.

The idea of displaying small works of art was appealing to both artists and those who appreciate art. Many people who don't have room in their homes for large works of art have space for smaller paintings and sculptures, as well as ceramics and jewelry.

Small works also fit well into the town's small library. "Last year," said Colleen Menefee, past president of the Friends, "we had just the right amount of space for the art displays and room for people to mingle, munch and sip."

The library provides an aesthetic and inviting venue since it was reorganized and repainted not long ago. Gathering in the library also allows people who like to read the pleasure of being surrounded by books.

This year, once again, anyone who wants to purchase works of art will have that opportunity, "Last year," Menefee said, "we received so many compliments on how reasonably the works of art were priced. This enabled many people at the event to leave with one or several art works in hand."

There are two ways works of art can be purchased. Many will be available by direct purchase. Others, works donated by the artists, will be available through a silent auction to the highest submitted bid.

Purchasing an artwork benefits the buyer, the seller, and the library, since 40 percent of the direct purchase price and 100 percent of the winning silent auction bid go to the Friends to support the library.

And the local library, like libraries throughout the state, needs help. During the last few years budgets for public libraries throughout California have been slashed. Budget restrictions have affected Merced County, which funds the library in Merced and in other cities within the county, including Los Banos.

At the Los Banos branch, for example, it's up to the Friends of the Los Banos Library to purchase the subscriptions for all magazines. The Friends also supplement the county's limited book budget in order to add children's, adults', and up-to-date reference books to the local collection.

In planning this year's event, Ryan has received, as she did last year, encouragement and support from local individuals and businesses that have donated money and materials to cover the cost of the event.

She has also received a positive response from the participating local artists. Many plan to be at the Oct. 24 event to talk with the people attending.

The Friends of the Los Banos Library have created a novel and enjoyable fundraiser. I am expecting that this year's event will be every bit as successful as last year's.

Comments on the writings of John Spevak, an Enterprise columnist for 30 years, are encouraged, and can be sent via email to

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