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'A Taste Of Ashland' 2007 kicks off Friday

The Ashland Gallery Association's "A Taste of Ashland" 2007, the premier art tour and gourmet tasting event in Southern Oregon, takes place in galleries throughout downtown Ashland and the historic railroad district from noon to 4 p.m. Saturday and Sunday, April 28 and 29.

The "Taste" kicks off with a Preview Gala from 6 to 9 p.m. Friday, April 27, at the Ashland Springs Hotel.

"The 'Taste' is a grand celebration of great art, great food, great wine and beer, and the great place that we are fortunate enough to call home," said the Gallery Association's Event Coordinator, Suzanne Heinrich. "We have a wonderful line up for the whole weekend, and since "Taste" has sold out in advance in previous years, we're encouraging people to buy their tickets early so they don't miss out."

New this year, Gathering Glass Studio's artists/owners, Scott Carlson and Keith Gabor, will be demonstrating their glassblowing skills. At Studio A.B, Bruce Bayard will demonstrate his Photoshop techniques and his approach to creating in the digital medium. Art and Soul Gallery will have live demonstrations in various watercolor techniques by four different artists.

Ashland Art Works will feature guest artist, Frederick Hazard who works in metal sculpture and assemblage. Davis Cline Gallery will exhibit a porcelain sculpture installation by Eugene artist Sana Krusoe and a mixed media exhibition by Portland artist Deanne Belinoff. The gallery will also serve as an oasis where patrons can rest, relax and enjoy spring water before continuing on their way to see the many other participating galleries, often accompanied by live music.

Culinary delights will be presented by restaurants including some Ashland newcomers. KOBE Restaurant, the latest creation by Billy Harto, will feature modern Japanese cooking at Frank Philipps Pottery. Harto's flagship eatery Thai Pepper is also participating this year. New Chozu Bath and Tea Gardens will serve tastes of traditional Japanese sweets and condiments accompanied by Japanese teas at JEGA Gallery Sculpture Garden on A Street.

Jeff Hauptman, of Chef Jeff Catering and Chef Service, new to Ashland, but who has been featured repeatedly in San Diego Home and Garden Magazine and acknowledged by Oprah Winfrey's chef, Rose Daley, in her cookbooks, will be serving roasted red pepper and feta cheese canap&

233;s and smoked turkey pate on cucumber rounds.

Tabu will serve a taste of its Neuvo Latino Cuisine at David Bjurstrom Studio Gallery, where Bjurstrom, this year's A Taste of Ashland poster artist, will be signing posters and exhibiting his limited edition fine art print, "Grizzly Peak Meadow." A food feast would not be complete without artisan cheese makers, Rogue Creamery and Rising Sun Farms, and the many other gourmet food providers returning to Taste '07 (see listing of all participating food and beverage vendors at ).

Top regional winemakers participating include RoxyAnn Winery which will be debuting its new release Pinot Gris and John Michael Champagne Cellars which, paired with Chozu, will include an offering of champagne style sake. 'Taste' welcomes Crater Lake Cellars, and Agate Ridge Vineyard, new to the event this year. Returning winemakers include Shasta View Vineyards, Troon, Chateau Lorane, Paschal and many others. When Devitt Winery was invited to join Taste again this year, Jim Devitt enthusiastically accepted the invitation adding that "A Taste of Ashland" is the not to be missed event of the year!"

Ashland's own Standing Stone Brewing Company and Caldera Brewing Company will offer their beers to the event. Heartsong Herbal Brewing Co. will serve up its chai tea among others.

Additional touches will be offered by Dagoba Organic Chocolate winner of the Food Wine 2005 Tastemaker Award, "Best Dark Chocolate" &

San Francisco Chronicle, and Ashland family owned and operated, Rocky Mountain Chocolate Factory.

The Ashland Springs Hotel will be the "host gallery" to wildlife artist and owner of Irelock Imaging, Olivia Schemanski, and offering gourmet treats from it's own Larks-Home Kitchen Cuisine paired with Champagne Creek Cellars and Dagoba. The landmark hotel will also host the Preview Gala on Friday night, The Gala is open to all, with a suggested $5.00 donation. It will feature artist and gallery exhibits, student art demonstrations. Live music, complimentary light refreshments and a no-host bar.

The highlight of the evening, however, is the Artists' Quick Draw and Auction. A select number of local artists start with a blank canvas, paper or other medium, and within 60 minutes, while patrons watch in awe, complete a work of art. The end result, ready for display, is auctioned to gala attendees.

For more information on of A Taste of Ashland, the Gala, and tickets for the event, go online at or call (541) 531-2012.