Saturday, June 8, 2013

Art and Music and All-Terrain Contrivances and Flowers, etc...

           Ashland is truly a haven for artists, with over a dozen galleries, two large art cooperatives and an art museum, all open year round and showcasing everything from jewelry and fabric wall hangings, wooden sculpture and tile mosaics, oils and blown glass,  classes as diverse as watercolor, mosaic, weaving, knitting, tile painting, fabric painting, hat making, ceramics and nearly any other creative form imaginable.  As summer arrives art begins to flow out of doors, appearing alongside the river on weekends, in street fairs and the walkways of art collectives, farmers markets, and even in open houses and backyards.  Neighbors of ours hold an annual art event each June, called "Art for the Home and Garden" featuring enchanting garden art and metal sculpture, pottery, ceramic art, purses -- a variety of  professional design in two gardens and homes open for the weekend. 

            As the summer art season opened this first weekend of June,  it also offered First Friday Artwalk (a monthly event greatly enhanced when warm weather and tourists begin to arrive);  music streaming on many streets along with open galleries, wine tasting and snacks; 7 or 8 theater stage offerings (always available here); performances of the charming play "Mulan"  in an aerial acrobatic form produced by Le Cirque Centre, a petite derivation of the famed Cirque du Soleil; a performance of Broadway music at a  local church; a singing rock concert by the Jefferson State Choral Coalition; the opening of a week-long Medford beerfest kicked off by a Beers, Burgers and Bluegrass celebration at Hanley Farm;  and the celebration of the opening of the Britt Music Festival, a grand outdoor summer-long series of musical events held in Jacksonville, about 40 minutes out of town. Also an option, several  venues with live bands -- including Irish Pubs, wineries and the Elks. There were many people  of all persuasions on the streets having a good time, running into friends. Street musicians included guitars and a didgeridoo!
            In Jacksonville on Saturday some of the charms of the Britt Summer Celebration included a street lined with antique cars, chalk artists, a strawberry social, great bands, and a free drawing to win $500 to spend in local shops. Here are a few images:

            I found the most intriguing exhibit there to be the kinetic sculptures (shown below). This relatively new hobby for people who want to put pedal-to-the-metal using their own pumping power involves creating human-powered amphibian all-terrain vehicles (yes, sand and mud and water) to compete in kinetic sculpture races in various towns in Oregon (and beyond -- the challenge apparently originated in Ferndale, CA, when Hobart Brown modified his son's tricycle and the idea mushroomed into huge bikes, and migrated to several states). No one is allowed an engine or even a push, although rumor is that rules are made to be broken.  Much of the fun is in the innovation and artistic flair, with a muscle-driven machine. They are racing works of art. The larger one below has 80" wheels and seats four drivers. If you want to know the when and where of races in Oregon check out,, or just google kinetic sculpture races and you will find a lot of you-tube film clips to peruse. One I liked was Kinetic Grand Championship Part 1.

            As if all of this was not too much choice already for one weekend, there were two major garden show events, one in Ashland, an annual garden tour sponsored by the AAUW, and another tour to support charities in Central Point and Medford.  These draw enthusiastic gardeners (or wannanbes) who want to see the best designs and use of plants for the area, enjoy the beauty of the hills and yards, decide if they want water features, and figure just what it is the deer will not eat!  The Assn. of University Women (AAUW) is a major presence in Ashland, with over 140 members, numerous clubs, and community-wide fundraisers for local charities. The garden tour is a major project of theirs, always including lemonade and cookies and lots of good advice.
            So goes a typical summer weekend -- one really has to work to become bored in this town!
            Below are some Ashland gardens from the garden tour, all lovely living works of art. Did you know there is a scaled replica of the Trevi fountain in the acreage of a beautiful Ashland mansion built in the style of a 17th century Normandy chateau? Tours like this always have surprises. This estate also boasts a vineyard, cherry orchard, vegetable garden, passive solar and water well.  Other homes on the tour featured flowers, gardens, walkways, drought resistant plants, and a charming greenhouse. Some of the photos are from the large community gardens shared by residents of the Mountain Meadows retirement community.

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