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The citys arts and food community wakes fresh to a new season

A Taste of

This weekend marks the return of A Taste of Ashland presented by the Ashland Gallery Association. In its 17th year, this event is rapidly becoming one of Ashland&

s signature happenings. In 2006, it brings together 50 restaurants, wineries and breweries from the region &

the most ever &

and pairs them with 20 galleries in a feast for the eyes as well as the palate.

&

There is so much to see and so many tempting delights during the Taste,&

said David Bjurstrom, event manager, &

It will require both days to do it right. From the Railroad District to Uptown and Downtown, this is a walking tour that covers the heart of Ashland. Taste truly is the largest event of this kind in terms of the number of vendors, number of patrons &

800 this year &

and geographic size, being spread across town.&

— — IF YOU GO

— — —

A Taste of Ashland walking tour12 to 4 p.m. Saturday and SundayTickets$30/each day Saturday and Sunday$48/both days togetherCall 488-8430www.atasteofashland.com

Although the focus is on the food and wine, it is the diverse and exceptional art displayed in the galleries that sets A Taste of Ashland apart from similar events. AGA member galleries cover a collection of art ranging from the traditional to the most cutting-edge, with virtually every style and media represented. There are local and regional artists, emerging talents and masters with national and international acclaim.

A showcase for chefs and winemakers, Taste introduces patrons to some of the newest members of the culinary and winemaking community as well as reminding them of old favorites. Primarily representing the Ashland community, this celebration also presents restaurants from throughout the Rogue Valley and wineries from as far away as the Willamette Valley in Oregon.

&

A great benefit of &

145;doing the Taste&

in addition to the delight in tasting the wide-ranging treats that are available, is that many of the restaurants and wineries will be selling their products or gift certificates that may be enjoyed after the weekend is just a pleasant memory,&

Bjurstromsaid. &

We will be welcoming back many past favorites like Rogue Creamery, Peerless Restaurant, Pasta Piatti and Rising Sun Farms as well as Chateau Lorane Winery, Foris Vineyards and EdenVale Winery. There are also many new additions this year, including Morrison&

s Rogue River Lodge, Lark&

s Home Kitchen Cuisine, Pipon&

s, Oregon Cabaret Theatre, LongSword Vineyard, Fiasco Winery at Jacksonville Vineyards, Trium and Standing Stone Brewing Company.&

Some of the tempting tastes to be experienced include Dragonfly&

s ahi wontons, Shady Cove Candies&

gourmet truffles, Apple Cellar Bistro&

s Chicken Dijon and Market of Choice Deli&

s specialty cheese selections from Oregon and France. RoxyAnn Winery plans to debut their 2005 Pinot Gris and John Michael Champagne Cellars will sample their new champagne-style sake.

Also being introduced in 2006 are the &

Best Of&

Awards to be selected by patrons who will vote for their favorites in three categories: Food, Beverage and Gallery.

For the second year, the Taste weekend opens with a gala preview from 6 to 9 p.m. Friday at the Ashland Springs Hotel, which has has given over their beautiful Grand Ballroom, Conservatory and Garden for the Gala.

Entertainment will be provided by Melissa Schweinguth on the keyboard in the hotel&

s lobby area, welcoming patrons to the grand space. In addition, the marimba band, Tsokoshata (Bad Monkeys), will be upstairs playing their lively music. The marimba group, lead by artistic director Jan Christensen, is made up of players in the 6th to 8th grades from Ashland Middle School and Willow Wind. It is the performing ensemble of the Mukombe Marimba Club of Ashland Schools. The musicians, many of whom have been playing with the director since their early grade school years at Walker Elementary School in Ashland, will be performing the joyful, high energy dance music of the Shona people of Zimbabwe. The group entertains the school community at assemblies throughout the year and is a district-wide after school club funded with support from the Ashland Youth Activities Levy.

This free, non-ticketed event with tempting hors d&

oeuvres and a no-host bar features displays of work by Ashland Gallery Association Artist Members and an artists&

&

Quick Draw.&

The centerpiece of the Gala will be the Artists&

Quick Draw and Auction. Each of 15 participating artists will start with a blank canvas, paper or other surface at 6:30 p.m. and, within 60 minutes while patrons are standing by watching and interacting, complete an entire piece of art. Afterward, the works will be framed or otherwise prepared for display and auctioned to the attending audience. The auction will begin at approximately 8:15 p.m.

&

Quick Draws are events unlike anything else&

, said Bjurstrom. &

It is an unparalleled opportunity to watch the creative process from start to finish by some very talented artists. Compressing the process down to one hour can be a period of intense pressure for the artist who usually works alone in a studio for hours or days to complete his or her work.&

Each of the artists chooses the medium in which they&

ll work as well as their subject matter.

Some of the 15 artists to take part this year will be Bruce Bayard, caran d&

ache crayons; Ann DiSalvo, pastels; David Bjurstrom, pencil; Mitzi Miles-Kubota, watercolors, Gabriel Lipper, oils; Dot Fisher-Smith, mixed media collage; Judy Bjorlie, watercolor; Shoshanah Dubiner, gouache on paper; and Alek Iskendrov, oils.

One of the most unique aspects of the Quick Draw is the invitation of the audience to ask questions and interact with the artists at they work.

&

I absolutely love the interaction that happens among the artists and the patrons during these events,&

said Bjurstrom. &

I have done probably 45 Quick Draws at art shows all over the West in the past 20 years and every one is unique. If I really thought about it, I&

d probably be terrified since most of my gallery work can require dozens of hours to complete. Compressing it to this short period is really crazy, but I decided long ago that if I can have fun with it and converse with the viewers, the process is usually pretty painless.&

Bjurstrom continued, &

When you have watched an artist start and finish a piece of art before your eyes and then have an opportunity to immediately purchase it, there is a connection to that work you will have always. I&

ve actually purchased the work of several artists produced this very way.&