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Friday Night Live in Grants Pass

Some of us residing in Jackson County tend to forget our neighbor to the west who shares our valley and the flowing riffles of Rogue River fame.

Our mighty Rogue waterway runs westward ho and into the Pacific at Gold Beach, having first passed through beautiful Riverside Park in Grants Pass, a town I have inadvertently shunned in this column. This year I will seek to rectify that rather stupendous oversight, bonnet in hand.

Grants Pass lies a mere 30 miles west of Medford, and is an area worth exploring. My friend, who shall remain nameless to protect him from a Caveman clubbing, commonly refers to Grants Pass as Grant’s Pants. I’m sure he’s not the only one, but I always get a fresh chuckle out of it.

Enough silliness, in this paragraph anyway, except for this — there is no apostrophe in the city name, though it was bestowed in honor of Ulysses S. Grant and his victorious battle at Vicksburg. Grant Pass doesn’t quite do it. Neither does Grant Pant. I’ll stop.

The other night, said friend and I made the 45-minute drive to experience their Friday Night Live! Located in the historic district, it has that wonderful yesteryear vibe with occupied and revitalized brick buildings from yesteryear.

The fun began when I noticed a group of Newsies, as in boys in costume for the Teen Musical Theater of Oregon musical of the same name. These youngsters weren’t hawking newspapers, but chocolate. Like an osprey after a surfacing trout, I opened the window, fished two bucks from my wallet and laid hold of two dark bars before the light turned.

We had no problem locating a parking space near the action, a definite plus compared with other towns in our area that shall remain undisclosed. Though the evening carried a chill, all was dry and a number of people were about. We opted for art first, chow after.

The Grants Pass Art Museum on the upper level hosts monthly exhibits. Through the end of March they’re showing “Rivers and Caves,” with Chris Korbulic’s death-defying kayak photography, “World of Rivers” and “Caves are Thirsty,” a Southern Oregon Student Collaborative.

Looking at the dramatic images of this daredevil, Korbulic, plummeting down waterfalls in a kayak is as close as I ever want to come to the real nosedive. The shots are so spectacular I needed to dry off afterward.

The other room showed students’ renditions of the Oregon Caves in drawings and paintings. What I found fascinating is how many different visions papered those walls. No two are remotely alike. Creativity is alive and well in the younger generation. It’s inspiring to know that the Grants Pass Art Museum affords regular opportunities for the youth of our valley to show work.

I should mention here that there was a counter laden with cookies of various artistic descriptions, peanut butter-filled pretzel bites, which I particularly relished, and punch. Decent snacks are a must at any art show. How else would artists survive?

On the street level below the museum, we toured Gallery One, where regional artists display their work in a co-op arrangement. The variety offers something for everyone, prices are reasonable and, once again, snacks.

By this time we were ready to eat a still life of bread and cheese right off the wall, so we crossed the street to Blondie’s Bistro. I thought this was the home of a throat-warming passion fruit-habanero martini, and I was right. The place was packed but we secured a small table by the window. I enjoyed a delicious bowl of curried veggies with chicken that was so generous I had another large portion for lunch the next day.

For an art show closer to home, drop by a special exhibit during St. Paddy’s weekend at Medford First Christian Church on Crater Lake Ave. Reception is Friday 5-7. Many gifted local artists will be on board.

Peggy Dover is a freelance writer. Reach her at pcdover@hotmail.com and on her Facebook page.