It would have taken an impressive show to rival Mother Natures display of springtime glory this weekend, but fortunately for the attendees of the 42nd annual Lodi Art Center Spring Art Show at Mondavi Winery, it was not an either-or proposition.
Visitors could browse through the cool and cavernous wine room at the winery, taking in the pleasant aroma while perusing 259 individual art works from photographs to paintings, sculptures and multimedia pieces, while they sipped and sampled some of the winerys liquid offerings and nibbled on glazed popcorn, cheese and crackers.
The show was free to the public, and the arrangement was open and informal, so visitors drifted out into the warm sunshine Sunday to rest and contemplate amid the enormous evergreens and lush, just-watered grass courtesy of a modest rainshower Saturday night.
The air was soft and temperate, and a group of patrons lounged at one of the picnic tables out front.
Joanie Finnegan of Woodbridge sat in the shade with her three young charges, daughter Shannon Finnegan, and her friend Katie Crabtree, second-graders at Vinewood Elementary School, and Shannons cousin, Jacob Thomas, 6, of Stockton.
Finnegan said this was her third year bringing the children, and she found it an excellent opportunity to introduce them to art and local culture.
I love that there are more and more local artists, she said, and the kids always have a great time.
The younger Finnegan pronounced her favorite exhibit to be a watercolor entitled Christmas Puppies, featuring three appealing Labradors. Her cousin expressed admiration for this work as well, but held out for an acrylic modern of a tricycle as his choice for Best of Show.
The actual judges, artists Nancy Ayers of Jackson, Brian Canevari of Woodbridge and Reif Erickson of Auburn, came to their own conclusions, though, and awarded a sculpture called Ancient Book of the Future by Gretchen Ryan the top prize, which included an award of $250.
The Lodi Art Center is a nonprofit private educational organization, which occupies a gallery in the Lakewood Mall on Ham Lane.
The show itself has been in existence since 1959, but this is the third year the Mondavi Winery has hosted the event.
The support is appreciated, Art Center President Caroline Henry said. Other local wineries have shown interest in becoming part of the cultural mosaic as well.
More and more of the wineries are working with us to help develop Lodi into not only a well-known wine community, but a wine and art community, Henry said.
Of the original 444 entries into the show, judges culled down to 259 worthy of competition. Artists pay a fee to enter and exhibit their works, but only the best are selected for competition.
It is an honor just to be chosen, Henry said.
Lodi artists included Rene Philastre, Marjorie Preszler, Beverly Rolfe, Judith Tegen Sterling, Joannie Selman-Prince, Linda Whitney, Ken Woodworth, Joan right, and Cindi Inman, who earned an honorable mention for her sculpture entitled In Flight.
Pieces were offered for sale, with price tags from $45 to more than $3,000, and 25 percent of the purchase price was donated to the Art Center in support of their scholarship program.
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