Every first Friday through Spring, Summer and Fall you can wander the streets in Ashland from 5 to 8 p.m. and enjoy snacks, wine, music and art during the Friday Night Art Walk. Art galleries, hair salons, a church and even a real estate office host art exhibits and musicians and we always find something new, along with enough snacking for dinner. Main St., A Street, 4th Street and Oak Street, are the main places to explore, but we found a great band in a small new salon on 2nd, drawn by the music we could hear a block away. There are more than 20 galleries and studios in Ashland, most hosting multiple artists. The Ashland Art Center on Main houses 25 artist studios on three floors, with many classes available for locals. Ashland Art Works on Oak houses five studios and galleries for several artists along side a garden and stream. Both display the works of many local artists who work with jewelry, textiles, wood, metal, clay, oils, watercolors, prints and photography. Gallerie Karon on 4th and A has lovely antique pieces, Asian pieces and features 27 artists. Art and Soul Gallery on Main is always a favorite with over 30 regional artists who work in oil, pastel, mixed media, acrylic and watercolor. Last Friday they featured an artist from Medford who teaches Fashion Design at the Medford Art Center there. Who thought you might spend your retirement doing fashion design? There is the Schneider Museum of Art, with changing exhibits, at Southern Oregon College and another group of artists in the old Briscoe School. When you add it all up it seems at least half of Ashland residents are artists, many award-winning! (And the rest are writers -- they have special events too!) And then another 20% must be actors! And Then there are dancers -- soon the outdoor green performances before the OSF plays will begin! On one first Friday we watched acrobatics hanging and dancing from silk scarves at the Black Swan. (On Sundays at 4 we can go this Irish pub to listen to the Irish fiddlers who gather there). This is a wildly creative and entertaining place to hang out.
Spent Easter afternoon with friends enjoying the views at Trium winery, just one of over 60 winery options in the Rogue Valley and Applegate. Trium was new to us, with sweeping vineyard views that reminded us of Italy -- quiet, peaceful, a lovely magical spot in Talent, only a few miles from Ashland. Wineries are rapidly multiplying in this area, and many have evening musical programs along with tastings. A couple of wineries held family events with easter egg hunts and special prizes, but we are without young children these days so opted for the quiet. There are several major events a year where you can do wine and food pairings at many events, and your group can designate a driver who can snack all he or she wants for a very reduced price, without the wines. Most of the wineries have wine clubs so that if you agree to buy 2 or 3 bottles a quarter you get invited to special parties and events. We've enjoyed the Schmitt Family winery for several years with its annual mexican fiesta and a Father's Day event. Another favorite is RoxyAnn which has bands and an open dance floor on many Friday nights and a variety of food wagons to choose your dinner, as well as a great place to buy wine, snacks and gifts. You could visit a different winery every week for a year and still not see them all, each unique and special in its own way. For lists and info about southern Oregon wineries you can so to www.sorwa.org, www.applegatewinetrail.com or for a commercial tour through the wine country try www.winehoppertours.com.