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Gallery association opens membership

The Ashland Gallery Association is looking for people who want to support the arts and volunteer for events like the annual A Taste of Ashland food, wine and art extravaganza.

Formed in 1994, the association's membership is made up of people who run galleries and shops as well as artists.

Now association members are inviting members of the general public to join for a $25 annual contribution.

Each month, the new members will have the map for the First Friday gallery walk event mailed to their homes. They will also receive notices of special events. If they wish to volunteer, current members are justwaiting to put them to work.

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It doesn't seem like there's ever enough of us to get everything done,&

said AGA Administrator Suzanne Heinrich.

The association functions mainly through the volunteer work of its members, said member and artist Bruce Bayard.

Heinrich said volunteering for the association would be a good way for people to develop relationships and give back to the community.

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I moved here from outside the area,&

said Heinrich, who came to Ashland in 2004 from San Jose, Calif. and went to work for the association in June 2005. &

It's been a nice introduction to what Ashland's all about. It's been a great avenue for me to feel like a part of the community. It is a nice venue to meet a lot of folks.&

Tasks new volunteers might be assigned could include putting wine glasses and posters inside bags for ticket-buyers to A Taste of Ashland in April, following up with vendors who might be interested in participating in the event, distributing monthly gallery guides to galleries or writing press releases for the media, according to Heinrich, Bayard and artist David Bjurstrom, this year's event manager for A Taste of Ashland.

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A Taste of Ashland is a big logistical event. That's a big part of where our volunteer force would go,&

Bayard said.

During A Taste of Ashland, winemakers, chefs, chocolatiers and others share their creations in galleries and shops that are filled with art.

If the association developed a large enough pool of volunteers, members might consider staging even more events, said artist Richard LeVitt, president of the association.

The work done by the association not only helps artists and galleries &

many of which are small businesses struggling to keep their doors open &

but the entire community because it helps expand the attraction of Ashland as an arts destination, LeVitt said.

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Having more creative people add their talents can only help Ashland and the people in it,&

he said. &

We're very interested in having people participate with us in the arts community.&

For more information call 488-8430 or look for the Art Friends insert and membership form in January's gallery guide, which is available in many local galleries.

Staff writer can be reached at 479-8199 or vlaldous@yahoo.com.