April 22, 2024

Newton Public Library keeps community creatively engaged with Tiny Art Show

Event also serves as a fundraiser for library by auctioning off miniature artworks

Rebecca Klein, the public services librarian at the Newton Public Library, introduced the Tiny Art Show three years ago, and since then it has amassed hundreds of participants and even spurred the creation of an auction that serves as a fundraiser for the library.

These artworks may be tiny, but they are leaving big impressions.

For the past three years, the Newton Public Library has transformed itself into a full-on art museum with its Tiny Art Show. Community members of all ages were given 4-inch by 4-inch blank canvases last month, and since then the completed works have been trickling in and put on display throughout the library.

Limited only by their creativity, the Newton library patrons who participated in the activity were given free reign to fill up their canvases however they wanted for the most part. Of course many artists took to painting, but others have used colorful feathers and crafty materials to capture the eyes of wandering readers.

Rebecca Klein, the public services librarian, first introduced the Tiny Art Show as a way to maintain community involvement during the pandemic, and it also helped raise money for the local library. Which is why, for the second year in a row, the Newton library is auctioning off the finished canvases.

About $1,400 was raised from the last Tiny Art Show Auction to go toward the library’s roof replacement fund. Klein said this year’s auction will supplement the general programming the library offers for kids, teens and adults, like the mystery bags, special guest speakers, summer reading, etc.

Hundreds of participants have submitted canvases to the library over the years, which tells Klein the community is responding very well to the activity.

“Everybody gets to submit something and everybody gets to be part of this art show and get to see their work, which is kind of exciting for folks. And then everybody gets to be a part of the auction, too,” Klein said. “I think that’s part of the fun. And there is also such a variety of art. The creativity you see is so cool.”

Library patrons walk past the tiny art canvases on display at the Newton Public Library. The Tiny Art Show celebrated its third year and its second auction this winter.

Klein recalled the excitement she felt seeing the canvases returned and covered with vibrant colors, vivid illustrations and impressive abstract artwork.

“When I got 50 or 60 back, I was like, ‘Yeah!’ People love having a creative outlet, and this encourages them to take the time and explore a little bit of creativity and have a little bit of fun with friends or family,” Klein said. “I think a lot of people do get excited not only for the show but the auction afterward.”

While the auction is another great way for the community to support its library, Klein said what she truly enjoys most is the art show itself. Little ones especially get a kick out of seeing their works of art on display in the library next to other colorful canvases, even more so when they later witness someone paying for it.

“There is a lot of excitement,” Klein said. “It seems like people come in advance to pick out the works of art they want to go after. The competitiveness of the bidding is all in good fun, but it’s really fun for me to watch people get excited about what they’re going to try to win and bring home.”

Interacting with the community through its programming is nothing new for the Newton Public Library staff. It is something they do on a daily basis. Whether it is hosting book clubs or signing kids up for summer reading programs or inviting new parents for toddler story time, the library never stops engaging its patrons.

“We do a plant swap in summer that has gotten huge! People are waiting for that all year,” Klein said. “We’ve also started adding spring and fall book swaps, and those are great! This is what we’re about. We’re a community center, and I think we take a lot of pride and joy in being a place where the community wants to be.”

Participate in the Tiny Art Show’s silent auction from 9 a.m. to 6:30 p.m. Monday, Feb. 26 at the Newton Public Library. The reception and final bidding will be held from 5 to 7 p.m. that day as well.

Library staff say artists ages 3 through 77 have submitted miniature artwork for the Newton Public Library's Tiny Art Show.
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.