Part reunion, part fund-raiser, mostly an art show the biggest in this part of the Central Valley returns from the Central California Art Association.
Through 60 years, the annual Spring Arts Show is as certain a harbinger of spring in these parts as the onset of airborne allergies.
But much more pleasant, with far less sneezing.
The kickoff of the month-long show at the Mistlin Gallery is Saturday's gala preview, which runs from 6-9 p.m. Tickets are $20 and include live music, hors d'oeuvres, wine tasting, prizes and the 8 p.m. awards ceremony.
"It's our biggest fund-raiser of the year so it's important that the gala brings in people," said Barbara Gill Salerno, who works with the Central California Art Association at Mistlin Gallery.
"The show promotes sales for people who live here as well as give other people a chance to see the work of our local artists.
"For the artists, it's like a reunion. It's about the only time we get to see each other and enjoy each other's company."
After the gala unveiling, the show is open free of charge to the public through July 13 during the gallery's regular hours Tuesday-Friday 11:30 a.m.-5 p.m. and Saturday from noon to 4 p.m.
The winners in each category were announced earlier this week.
Joan Cardoza won best of show for her pastel "The Monk;"
Susan Rossman's "Main Street Groceries" won first place in oils and acrylics;
Dan Petersen's "Shadow Brook" won first place in watercolors;
Rosemarie Sturgill's "Whooping Crane" won first place in mixed media, graphics and pastel;
Jerrod Mays won first place in sculpture, ceramics and pottery for "It's Complicated."
The CCAA received 189 entries and accepted 143 works submitted by 62 artists from throughout the region. Delbert Park of Tracy and John Claes of Turlock served as jurors, and the awards judge was University of the Pacific professor Lucinda Kasser.
The CCAA hosts shows throughout the year at Mistlin Gallery, with many open to burgeoning and established artists willing to rent wall space to display their own work.
But just getting a piece accepted to the Spring Arts Show, Salerno said, is an honor, since the jury process is in place to weed-out entries deemed not up to the standards of this particular show.
Of course that's subjective, Salerno admitted. But it's the accepted method of determining the order of the fittest in arts shows.
"I've had incidents where I've submitted one painting to a show and it got in and won an award," Salerno said. "Then I submitted the same painting to another show and it wasn't even accepted."
Through all the years and all the awards presented, this show particularly Saturday's gala remains one of the biggest nights each year on the CCAA's calendar, for financial and other reasons.
Local businessman Tony Mistlin donated $30,000 in 2011 to the CCAA, and at the time pledged the same amount for 2013. His continuing generosity covers a large chunk of gallery expenses, most notably rent, but the rest is up to the membership.
"As an all-volunteer organization, we still struggle to keep all our bills paid while still trying to maintain the standards of a professional organization," Salerno said.
Brian VanderBeek can be reached at (209) 578-2150 or follow him on Twitter, @modestobeek