Art and food meet at A Taste of Ashland

Toward the last leg of her tour of Ashland art galleries during A Taste of Ashland, Beth Mortonson said Ashland reminded her of a "little San Francisco."

"There is so much talent here," she said. "And good food and I knew I was going to love the wine."

Mortonson and her husband Mark moved to Ashland six months ago from Boston. Mark said attending A Taste of Ashland was a great way to find out much of what the town has to offer.

"Walking through all these neighborhoods, we didn't know half of this stuff was here," he said, munching a chicken chutney spread atop a melba toast in the Nimbus Gallery. "Now we know where to take friends when they visit."

Saturday and Sunday marked the 19th year for the event, which is organized by the Ashland Gallery Association. Seventeen galleries teamed up with local restaurants, vineyards and breweries.

Art and Soul at 247 E. Main St. added a free artist demonstration this year. Sue Bennett of Ashland set up an easel at the front of the gallery on Sunday and demonstrated techniques in watercolor painting.

"I think we'll do it again. It really seems to draw people in," said Janet Bocast, one of the 30 artists who co-own the gallery.

Geppetto's set up nibble tables and Chateau Lorane poured sips of wine at Art and Soul. Bocast said the ultimate goal of the event is for galleries to sell art, vineyards to sell bottles of wine and restaurants to wow Taste patrons enough to eat at their restaurants.

"But even if all we do is expose people to the talent of local artists, then the event was a success," she said.

Teresa Nichols, who owns Jo's Fish 'n Chips in Phoenix, said the event is also a great way for vendors to learn about each other. She was set up in Ashland Artisan Gallery at 163 E. Main St. along with Nicki Williams of Caldera Brewing.

"Because of this, a possible partnership was formed," said Nichols, who plans to meet with the Oregon Liquor Control Commission to see if she can sell Caldera beer out of her business.

Chad Derosier, vice president of Heartsong Herbal Brewing Company, set up a sidewalk stand passing out samples of their pepper brews.

"This is a great way to expose lots of people to our brews who aren't familiar with our product," he said.

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