March 31, 2023

Newton library to hold Tiny Art Show with silent auction in February

Event will serve as fundraiser for new roof project

Local artists big and small are painting tiny canvases for the Tiny Art Show at the Newton Public Library. Each piece will be put on display and then be put in a silent auction to raise money for the library's roof project.

Artists big and small are making miniature masterpieces for the Newton library.

In order to raise money for a new roof at the Newton Public Library, staff have turned the Tiny Art Show — first introduced to the public last year — into a fundraiser. When all the tiny art work has been collected, the canvases will be put on display for all to see and then be auctioned off at the end of February.

Becca Klein, the public services librarian, told Newton News about 90 out of 150 tiny canvases have been distributed to participants as of Jan. 31, which is already more than the 60-plus the library received and put on display in 2022. Canvases must be returned to the library no later than Feb. 15.

“We will put up all the art into a show, a display,” Klein said, noting she is unsure if it will be in the meeting room or in the library just yet. “It all depends on how many we get back. Either way, there will be an art show for a week from Feb. 20 to 27. People can look at all the art that was submitted.”

By the evening of Feb. 27, the library will host an event celebrating the art on display. There will also be a silent auction, the proceeds of which will go towards the fundraising for the roof. Klein said people can enjoy treats and beverages while they bid on the pieces of artwork made by community members.

How artists use their canvases is completely up to them. Klein said they can paint or decorate their piece however they choose and with whatever material they desire. More than 51 canvases have been returned to the library — almost reaching 2022 numbers — which makes Klein even more excited for the show.

“We’re in a unique position this year needing to think about fundraising, which is not something a public library does very often — or at least it’s not something I think very much about,” Klein said. “But even if we weren’t doing fundraising this year it’s really cool to see the kind of participation we’re getting.”

It is fun, she added, to set up an art show in the library. Klein loves seeing the variety of pieces that come in from artists of all ages.

“It’s one of the programs we do that is truly all ages; I think this year the youngest one was 2 years old. And we’re into the 70s for the adults that included their age,” Klein said. “We don’t set any restrictions on what your subject material is, and it’s cool because every canvas that comes in is kind of a little surprise.”


In December, the Newton City Council approved the low bid of more than $772,000 from Pella-based contractor Hopkins Roofing to replace the 30-year-old roof at the library. Replacing the roof is one of the city council’s goals for 2022-2024. Leaks have been a prevalent problem since the roof’s construction.

Water damages to the circulation office, the director’s office and the children’s library have occurred over the years. Of course leaks sprung up after the first thaw of springtime, but winter also proved to be just as cumbersome with ice jams. New leaks still emerge over the 20,000-square-foot building.

According to council documents, the architectural firm Studio Melee conducted a facility assessment report of the library in 2019. It was then determined the roof is at the end of its useful life and needs replaced. In 2022, the library hired the firm once again to design and release bid documents to replace the roof.

Newton News previously reported that Curtis Ehler, owner of Studio Melee, told council members in August that the firm looked at several different roofing options, including shingles, metal and a single-ply membrane. However, the cost of these materials have increased considerably, with some up 35 percent.

“We went through those three different options with the library board in March of this year,” Ehler said, noting the board decided a metal roof was still the best option. “…Most of the issues that were related to this one we believe are primarily based on the manufacturer at the time.”

Depending on the manufacturer used for the replacement, prices could fluctuate. Ehler estimated at the time the project could cost $700,000 to $900,000. Although the $772,815 price tag from Hopkins is high, the city is only devoting $200,000 general fund bonds to the project.

City administrator Matt Muckler previously told Newton News donations from the Diehl Estate allowed for even more funding to be available for the project.

The estate provided about $500,000 to go towards the design and construction of the new roof.

Christopher Braunschweig

Christopher Braunschweig

Christopher Braunschweig has a strong passion for community journalism and covers city council, school board, politics and general news in Newton, Iowa and Jasper County.