Art Show Featured Work By Royal Palm Beach Library Patrons

Librarian and art expert Tania Villacres with art show participant Diane Von Grote.

The Royal Palm Beach branch library recently hosted an unusual event. On the evening of Wednesday, Dec. 13, the library’s large meeting room was transformed into an art gallery.

Approximately 70 watercolors, charcoal sketches and pastels festooned the walls. There were still lifes, landscapes, human figures, a running horse and more. Artists and guests strolled about, stopping to admire and discuss. The central table offered sparkling grape juice, cheese, crackers, grapes and cheesecake bites.

All of the works had been produced in the ongoing series of drawing classes offered at the Royal Palm Beach library. Every Tuesday afternoon, from 2 to 4 p.m., participants gather at the library to learn new techniques and further their craft.

“We started the program two years ago,” said Karl Zwarych, assistant branch manager and head of adult activities. “One of our librarians, Tania Villacres, is very knowledgeable and has a thorough background in art. She developed the curriculum. It’s one of our most popular offerings.”

Zwarych was very impressed by the artwork on display.

“It’s wonderful to celebrate all the students’ work, to see how much they’ve progressed and learned,” he said.

Susan Weinstein, one of the artists, has been a member of the class since it began.

“Tania is a wonderful teacher. She really brought out what little talent I have,” Weinstein smiled. “The class is like day camp for me, a great experience. I enjoy the camaraderie with other adults. I’ve met some wonderful people here, and working on different projects is fun. My favorite medium, so far, is pastels. They’ve very forgiving. You can always change things.”

Barbara Powell only attended three classes. “I travel a lot,” she noted. “I like working in clay, but drawing is fun, too. I really enjoyed the perspective class, and drawing human models. I’m incorporating what I’ve learned into my clay sculptures. This class is a fantastic outlet.”

Bibi Benzaken has been attending the class for three months. “I love doing different kinds of art,” she said. “Watercolors are my favorite. I like the sheerness of it, the way you can layer it to add depth and value. I wish the class went longer. Two hours is not enough time.”

Harsha Raichura enjoys working on still lifes.

“I like trying to get glass jars and vases just right,” she said. “Working in mixed media is my favorite. Watercolors with chalk. I never knew you could do that. Tania is a wonderful teacher, very interactive. She gives us good feedback.”

Catherine Brooks agreed. “Tania is fabulous. I’m thrilled to be part of this show and to attend the classes. I never tried drawing before, and I keep coming back. There has been definite growth. The first class, I couldn’t even sketch a circle. This is my favorite painting so far,” she said, indicating a watercolor of a pond surrounded by trees. “It reminds me of something I’ve seen before, where I’d take a walk and end up daydreaming by a lake. This library branch is my favorite place to be. I come here almost every day.”

Villacres smiled as she viewed the works along with her students, nodding and chatting, sharing their pride.

“This show is going surprisingly well,” she said. “We have a nice turnout. Even random people are wandering in, enjoying the art and learning about the class for the first time. Perhaps some of them will sign up for a class or two.”

Violet Gjidoda, another artist, made sure to thank her teacher.

“She’s amazing,” she said of Villacres. “She keeps bringing me back. I’ve been taking the classes for about a year now. I love the challenge of trying different mediums and subjects, challenging myself to try something I don’t think I can do, like flowers. They’re the bane of my existence, but I will defeat them someday. I’m so grateful to this library for providing these classes.”

Diane Von Grote, another artist, pointed out some of her work.

“Seeing all of our paintings displayed like this is very strange, but it’s fun, too, being part of it. I’m proud of all we’ve accomplished,” she said. “Tania is a lovely teacher with a good sense of humor and a lot of patience. She has taught us a lot. I’m looking forward to learning more.”

The Royal Palm Beach branch of the Palm Beach County Library System is located at 500 Civic Center Way. For more information, call (561) 790-6030.

The branch continues to offer the art classes every Tuesday afternoon from 2 to 4 p.m., but it’s not the only one. The West Boca branch has similar classes, and all of the branches offer a wealth of coloring, craft and other sessions on a whole host of subjects for adults and children. Best of all, the classes are free.

To find out more about the offerings, stop in at any branch and pick up the current month’s brochure, or visit