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Studios on the Park transforms their annual fundraising luncheon into an art party for your home

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Usually about this time of the year, Studios on the Park would be hosting its Sweet Art luncheon fundraiser.

"Sweet Art is our largest fundraiser every year," Sarah Ambrose, executive director of the Paso Robles nonprofit explained via email. "We usually have an honoree who is of importance to Studios on the Park and the community. All those who attend make donations in honor of them. However, this year, we are making all our donors the honorees. We would not be able to have our doors open today if it were not for the support that our donors and community give us.

HOST AN ART PARTY The bag and its contents are perfect for two people to have a creative and romantic night at home, or patrons could buy a couple of bags and invite the kids. Artists pictured are (left to right) David Hockney, Andy Warhol, Vincent Van Gogh, and Frida Kahlo. - PHOTOS COURTESY OF STUDIOS ON THE PARK
  • Photos Courtesy Of Studios On The Park
  • HOST AN ART PARTY The bag and its contents are perfect for two people to have a creative and romantic night at home, or patrons could buy a couple of bags and invite the kids. Artists pictured are (left to right) David Hockney, Andy Warhol, Vincent Van Gogh, and Frida Kahlo.

"Unfortunately, I don't think we will raise the $82,000 we raised last year, so we will have to get creative and raise money a different way later in the year," Ambrose continued. "However, I think this alternative will be something fun for them but they will also be giving back to Studios."

"This alternative" is a hand-decorated art bag filled with all the goodies you'll need to have a special night in with your significant other. You'll find a welcome cocktail recipe from Il Cortile with a 2 ounce bottle of vodka from Re:Find to go along with it, a watercolor paint set, a coloring book created by Studios artists, Chocolove chocolates, two bottles of wine and two wine glasses, a free tasting coupon from local wineries, and a raffle ticket—prizes are either a one-night stay at The Lofts at Paso Marketwalk, including wine and dessert from Just Baked, or a zip-line experience for six at Margarita Adventures.

The bags must be preordered and cost $100, with noon to 4 p.m. pickup available Feb. 8 through 13. You can buy extra raffle tickets for $10 each or three for $20.

IN PRODUCTION Tables of hand-decorated art bags—created with spray paint and stencils—dry outside Studios on the Park, which will sell the bags full of wine and art goodies as an alternative to its annual Sweet Art in-person luncheon fundraiser. - PHOTOS COURTESY OF STUDIOS ON THE PARK
  • Photos Courtesy Of Studios On The Park
  • IN PRODUCTION Tables of hand-decorated art bags—created with spray paint and stencils—dry outside Studios on the Park, which will sell the bags full of wine and art goodies as an alternative to its annual Sweet Art in-person luncheon fundraiser.

"We're hoping that donors would be willing to donate extra in order to continue our Kids Art Smart program as well as being able to show off high quality artwork for free to our community and visitors," Ambrose said. "For an idea of costs, it usually costs us $150 for materials for one Kids Art Smart (KAS) class (which has gone digital during COVID) and $500 to keep the Kids Art Smart studios available and stocked with art materials for all the kids that come through our doors each month. These funds also help pay for teachers for the KAS program as well as a digital show of the completed works!"

Ambrose noted the importance of this virtual youth program for all the kids who have been stuck at home during the pandemic.

"We felt that it was still such a necessity, especially during the time that students are home, for them to have a creative outlet," Ambrose said. "Our Kids Art Smart coordinator, Michelle Rollins, reached out to teachers, gave them boxed materials for all their students, and has been teaching them via Google Classroom. She is still able to give them a tour of Studios on the Park; however, the classes are much shorter, and the students have more room for creativity as they finish their artwork on their own.

"After the class has taken place, the students are asked to give their projects to the teachers, who in turn give them to Michelle. We hang their finished pieces in the Kids Art Smart studio for all to see!" she continued. "Kids can come by with their parents and show them off or, we do a walkthrough video and post it online so that those who can't come in are able to see them!"

THE FINAL PRODUCT Each bag includes two bottles of wine, chocolates, a coloring book created by Studios artists, a watercolor set, and more. Though similar, each bag is unique since they were decorated by hand. - PHOTOS COURTESY OF STUDIOS ON THE PARK
  • Photos Courtesy Of Studios On The Park
  • THE FINAL PRODUCT Each bag includes two bottles of wine, chocolates, a coloring book created by Studios artists, a watercolor set, and more. Though similar, each bag is unique since they were decorated by hand.

During the pandemic, the arts organization has certainly demonstrated its ability adapt. When the Studios on the Park board of directors realized the in-person fundraiser couldn't happen this year, they brainstormed and came up with the art bag idea, formed a committee, and made it happen. Anne Laddon, one of Studios artists, created the bag design. Volunteer artists decorated the bags and found the items—most of which were donated—to fill them.

"It's been a rough go during this pandemic," Ambrose admitted. "Studios had to close from March to June. When we were able to open back up, we created strict guidelines for everyone to follow, such as a mask requirement, directional arrows on the ground to allow for social distancing, and fewer people into Studios at a time. Luckily, our building is so large that people can still come in and browse around at all the art and not feel like they are on top of each other.

"We have been very fortunate that we have received two PPP [Paycheck Protection Program] loans now along with grants from the city of Paso Robles and The Wonderful Company. So financially, we have been hanging on," Ambrose added, "but it certainly is not the same without having our visitors in. Our numbers have gone down significantly from pre-pandemic times, which saddens us because we love the art we have at Studios and want to show it off to everyone. We're unable to host our monthly opening events, in-person classes and workshops, and fundraisers such as this!"

But Studios staff worked hard to get creative by doing online classes, hosting the exhibitions online as well in the gallery so that people can still look around and purchase the art, she said. And they've created a list of resources that parents could go to for their kids or that adults could go to themselves.

"It certainly hasn't been easy," Ambrose said, "but without our donors being there to support us through the years, I'm not sure we'd be able to be where we are!" Δ

Contact Senior Staff Writer Glen Starkey at gstarkey@newtimesslo.com.

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