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Triple attraction: Gardens, arts, & wine tasting
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Kathy Wallace, whose Villa Terracina home was one of those featured in Sunday’s garden and art tour fund-raiser for the San Joaquin AIDS Foundation, browses through some of the raku pieces on display in the Coates gardens - photo by ROSE ALBANO RISSO/The Bulletin
Dale Gray called the triple-attraction combination a win-win for everyone concerned.

The former Central Valley Realtors Association CEO-turned consultant was referring to Sunday’s unique event - a garden and art tour with wine tasting featuring area wineries thrown into the fun equation.

The winners, Gray pointed out, are the nonprofit San Joaquin AIDS Foundation, the eight local artists featured, and the nearly 200 garden enthusiasts who came out to show their support for the arts and for a philanthropic cause while having fun at the same time.

The foundation was a winner because it benefited from this fund-raiser. The boon for the artists was the opportunity to show off and sell their creations plus help raise money for a worthy cause. Ten percent of every sale they made during the event went to the foundation. Raku, photography, glass art, and whimsical sculptures were among the artistic disciplines represented. Artists featured this year were Dennis Merrill, Scott Kowalski, David Howard, Steve Crawford, Jessie Wong, Cydne Kaye, Kanwarjit Boparai, and Jeri Ross.

In a couple of the houses featured, visitors enjoyed a glass of wine courtesy of Woodbridge Winery and Borra Vineyards which conducted a wine tasting at the two locations.

Four of the seven gardens highlighted in the tour were in Manteca, three of them at Villa Terracina at the homes of David and Paula Coates, Dale Gray and Dave Konesky, and Bob and Kathy Wallace. The fourth Manteca garden was at the home of Eric Teberg and Terrence Barnett in the Magna Terra neighborhood behind Doctors Hospital of Manteca.

The Foundation has been conducting an annual garden tour fund-raiser for 11 years. The Villa Terracina art event hosted by Gray and Konesky has been running for five years in a row. This is the first time the two events were combined, said Gray who brought up the idea to the Foundation garden tour organizers. This is also the first time that the garden tour included homes in the South County area such as Tracy and Manteca, he said. One of the homes featured was the Del Campo-Rupinski garden in Weston Ranch. Rounding out the seven gardens were the Rainey and Sandoval gardens in Tracy.

“I think it’s been a win-win situation for not only the foundation but for the artists as well. Whether they sell or not, it’s still a very good experience for them,” Gray said.

One of the artists who has been taking part in the art show for the last few years was McKenna, the daughter of Dave Konesky who, at age 13, was the youngest among the exhibitors. A self-taught artist since her finger-painting exercises in kindergarten, the now home-schooled budding artist sold two of her oils on Sunday to the delight of her proud father. Selling her paintings was nothing new for McKenna who started exhibiting her work since the Villa Terracina group started holding the annual art event five years ago.

“One time, when the market was better, I made about $150. I sold 10 of my paintings,” said a serious McKenna.

“That was a long time ago - two years ago,” she said.