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Atascadero library hosts reception for artist John Barnard 

John Barnard Atascadero library

“Piedras Blanca Sunset” by John Barnard is an example of the watercolors by the artist on exhibit at the Atascadero library through the end of September.

New location has art displayed throughout library

Atascadero artist John Barnard’s work was hung in the new Atascadero library on Aug. 1 and a reception was held Thursday night to honor Barnard and highlight different kinds of arts in the library. Classical music played in the library until one of Barnard’s friends showed up with a guitar and sat down to play acoustic live music.

Friends of the Library member Eileen O’Grady said that it’s a goal of Friends to incorporate all the arts into the new library, including live music and other events.

In the old library, the Atascadero Art Association was in charge of the art work in the community room, which rotated every two months. While there was a featured artist for most of the exhibits, association members had the opportunity to submit art pieces for display. Now, an art committee has been formed to select the featured artist whose work will hang among the books for two months .Librarian Brian Coburn noted that while the art committee is supported by Friends of the Atascadero Library, including its art receptions and visual arts policy being listed on the website, the committee is part of the library system, not the Friends organization.

John Barnard Atascadero library

John Barnard’s watercolors are now on exhibit in the Atascadero library. Photo by Heather Young

Barnard is the second art exhibit to be hung in the new library. Pat Cairns’ and Jim Carlisle’s art hung on the walls from the library’s opening on June 7 through July. Barnard’s colorful paintings will be on display through the end of September.

For the display in October and November, the Arts Committee is seeking submissions related to climate change, as well as for its February and March 2015 exhibit: “A Sense of Identity.”  The deadline for submissions for the Climate Change exhibit is Sept. 8.

Barnard is a nationally recognized artist having his art displayed in museums and galleries throughout the country, as well as in many one-man exhibits. His first solo show was at Cowie Galleries at the Los Angeles Biltmore in 1953. Since then, his work has been exhibited at Los Angeles Museum of Art, the National Academy of Design in New York, the High Museum of Art in Atlanta, the Hoyt Institute of Art in Pennsylvania, the Seigmann Galleries and many others.

In addition to painting, he worked in the electrical industry and rose to top management. In his artist statement, he writes that he felt that he only worked to support his painting, so after 25 years — at the urging of his wife — he quit. In 1973, the Barnards moved to Atascadero and he became a prolific painter working mainly in watercolor, but also in acrylic, casein and water soluble oils.

“There is so much to paint,” Barnard wrote in his artist’s statement. “I get up in the moring and can hardly wait to start. I am not a formula painter. I don’t worry about style. I have fun. Painting is different from writing — writing is an intellectual thing. Painting for me is spontaneous. All that stuff is in there — just let it flow out and don’t worry about it.”

To learn more about Barnard, go to his website, For more on the upcoming library exhibits or to view the art policy, go to

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