By Starrla Cray
DELANO, MN Wine and beer tasting, a silent auction of children’s and professional artwork, food, raffles, and socializing . . . .
If those aren’t reasons enough to attend “Toast to Art” at the Delano Heritage Center (140 Bridge Ave. E.) Friday, March 16 from 7 to 10 p.m., here’s one more.
The inaugural event will also raise money for the Delano Elementary School Partners in Education (PIE). Proceeds will go directly to the school to purchase materials needed to create a “leveled library system” and future art and science residency programs.
“We’re really excited, and we’re hoping we have a nice turnout on the 16th,” Toast to Art event chair Kristin Ely-Bluemke said.
Tickets are $12 per person (ages 21 and over only), and may be purchased at Delano Elementary School or online at www.delanotoasttoart.com.
Attendees will have an opportunity to sample more than 20 varieties of craft brews and wines from around the world.
Experts from breweries and wine companies will be on hand to answer questions about the beverages, which are being donated by Day Distributing of Maple Plain and Southern Wine & Spirits.
Coborn’s in Delano will be providing appetizers, and several area businesses are donating raffle items.
Other sponsors include Landscape Structures, Intrcomm Technology, Five Technology, Delano Herald Journal, Angela Kalthoff Photography, Tamra Kowalski, Allison Schrein, Adam Esco, Sandy Atlas, and Three Crows Café & Coffee House.
“This event would not be possible if we had not had so much support from the school administration, parent volunteers, and sponsors,” said Ely-Bluemke, who is a PIE co-president with Angie Green.
Several professional artists donated pieces for the silent auction, such as glasswork, ceramics, paintings, felting, photography, and jewelry.
The children’s artwork was created during a PIE-sponsored after-school art class in February.
PIE members had expected a turnout of about 30 children in kindergarten through fourth grade, but the first day they sent out the message, 130 people responded.
Professional artist Tamra Kowalski volunteered her time to teach the classes, with the help of 15 to 20 volunteers from the community.
“It was really a team effort,” Ely-Bluemke said.
Three Fridays in a row, students met at the Delano Elementary School cafeteria to create a felted underwater scene and watercolor paintings.
“It’s great that other people are feeling like they want to expose their children to art, too,” Ely-Bluemke said.
Ely-Bluemke and her husband moved to Delano about five years ago, because they wanted a strong school district for their children. Since then, she has been working to incorporate more art education into the curriculum.
“When I was growing up, there was a big focus on art, and I wanted that for my children,” said Ely-Bluemke, whose parents were both art teachers.
Part of the proceeds from Toast to Art will go to art and science residency programs at Delano Elementary School.
“That’s another wonderful opportunity to expose students to art,” Ely-Bluemke said. “We flip-flop every year between science and art.”
Last year featured a science museum called “The Works.”
This year, the artist in residence will be Linda Moraal, aka “The Clay Lady.”
“She’s doing a clay project with the kids,” Ely-Bluemke said. “She has been an artist for more than 20 years.”
Toast to Art proceeds will also help expand the school’s leveled library system.
The system enables teachers to utilize books of various reading levels, while teaching the same story. That way, each student is challenged at the appropriate level.
To learn more about Toast to Art, call Delano Elementary School at (763) 972-3365 or go to www.delanotoasttoart.com.