Author Archives: realartisbetter

About realartisbetter

Real Art Is Better! Real Artist living and working in Anchorage and McCarthy, Alaska, making Real Art - colorful oil paintings and prints that brighten any space.

Thirsty Thursday Beer Painting #109. Wolf Pack Pilsner by Midnight Sun Brewing Co.

Happy Thirsty Thursday, beer connoisseurs!

A new, “modern” Pilsner is available from our local favorite brewery Midnight Sun Brewing Company — a brew known as Wolf Pack!  I think it may be one of the best pilsners available in the city.  It’s been my libation of choice lately when I go to Crush Wine Bistro to check on my current art show there, which will be up for the month of October.  MSBC is known for brewing bold, big beers, but this one is a bit more on the normal side.  Still a very hop forward version of Pilsner, but only 5% ABV, and compared to an IPA, not a hop bomb.  More balanced, yet still hop forward.  This beer is true to Pilsner style with more hops on the bittering end, and less in the aroma.  It drinks like an aggressive Czech, or dry-hopped German Pils.  Beers that come to mind when drinking it are Bitburger, Budvar, Pilsner Urquell, and one of my all-time favorite pilsners Berliner Pilsner.  So now when I get a hankering for the Euro flavor, but don’t want to travel halfway around the world, I’ll save the airfare and just buy a 12 pack (coming soon) of the Wolf Pack Modern Pilsner.  

Midnight Sun has a beer for just about anyone, and if you are a pilsner fan, this is a good example of a not boring version of this classic style.  Thanks MSBC for not only making huge beers like Termination Dust (I’m a fan), but making great classic session-able styles as well!  You can actually drink this beer at the brewery and still drive home safely.  

This original oil painting, and 52 limited-edition prints are for sale at my Etsy shop RealArtIsBetter.

Thirsty Thursday Beer Painting #109.  Wolf Pack Pilsner by Midnight Sun Brewing Co. By Scott Clendaniel. 14"x11", oil on panel.

Thirsty Thursday Beer Painting #109. Wolf Pack Pilsner by Midnight Sun Brewing Co. By Scott Clendaniel. 14″x11″, oil on panel.

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Thirsty Thursday Beer Painting #108. Weihenstephaner Vitus.

The Vitus by Weihenstephaner near München, Germany is an excellent beer!  As a home-brewer, I just bought a yeast variety from this fine brewing institution.  Today, as I brew beer, I think fondly of Bavaria and the great beer brewed there.  Bavaria brings to mind a few very distinctive styles, of which the wheat beer is the one that seems most inspiring.  Brewed to drink during the winter, this 7.7% ABV Weizenbock is a strong wheat beer for sure.  The flocculent yeast brings strong flavor, aroma, and the estery character to this beer.  When I tasted this beer at the Tap-House Munich, I was blown away at the full and delicious flavor of this brew.  It made me think of everything German I have ever tasted, and for a second I thought I could speak German too.  Anyway, this beer, as well as my last adventure in Germany was great, and I hope you get a chance to taste this winter favorite of Bavaria!  Prost to the Vitus, ein ausgezeichnetes bier!

This original oil painting, and limited-edition prints are for sale at my Etsy shop RealArtIsBetter.

Thirsty Thursday Beer Painting #108.  Weihenstephaner Vitus. By Scott Clendaniel. 8"x10", oil on panel.

Thirsty Thursday Beer Painting #108. Weihenstephaner Vitus. By Scott Clendaniel. 8″x10″, oil on panel.

Thirsty Thursday Beer Painting #107. Assassin Killer Imperial Stout by Toppling Goliath Brewing.

Happy National Drink Beer Day, or as I call it, business as usual!  Today is also Thirsty Thursday, which means I’m releasing a new beer oil painting.
When I think of Iowa, I think of Toppling Goliath Brewing Co.  I have only had a few offerings from TGB, but I think it’s one of the best, and I would like to go to Decorah, Iowa to sample the beers fresh at the brewery.  My first TGB beer was Zeelander IPA, loaded with fresh Nelson Sauvin hops from New Zealand.  I painted that one during the Year of Beer Paintings.  Check it out here.  I was lucky enough to get to try a couple 2 oz pours of the 2016 Assassin Killer Barrel Aged Imperial Stout at the Culmination Beer Fest here at Anchorage Brewing Co. Because this barrel aged imperial stout is 12% ABV, it is definitely a killer!  I liked the purple wax used on the 2016 vintage, and I can’t recommend this beer enough.  I’m stoked I got to try this whale of a beer.  I remember it coating my glass with an oily residue, it was so thick that it required several rinses to be ready for more regular beers.  Not that any beer is regular at Culmination, but this one really stood out in my mind.
Cheers to drinking the best beer!  Assassin is one of the great beers of America!  Keep your glasses filled, and pour me some too!  Thanks Toppling Goliath for making superb brews!

This original oil painting, and limited-edition prints are for sale at my Etsy shop RealArtIsBetter.

Thirsty Thursday Beer Painting #107. Assassin Killer Imperial Barrel Aged Stout by Toppling Goliath Brewing. By Scott Clendaniel. 8"x10", oil on panel.

Thirsty Thursday Beer Painting #107. Assassin Killer Imperial Barrel Aged Stout by Toppling Goliath Brewing. By Scott Clendaniel. 8″x10″, oil on panel.

The Brewery Star

~ by Maria Benner

One evening, while we were in Rothenburg ob der Tauber in Germany last month, we were wandering down the narrow, cobblestone streets, looking for a good place to sit down for a beer.  When we saw the Brewery Star hanging above a door of a restaurant, we immediately decided that it would be the right place for beer.  The establishment had been a brewery several hundred years ago, but now was just a restaurant.  The Brewery Star remained from the days when the place was a brewery, sometime around the 1600s.

The Brewery Star

Inside the restaurant we found more information about the ancient symbol.  Here’s what we learned.

Beer can be seen as an alchemical concoction combining the four elements: Earth (grain), Water, Air (carbon-dioxide), and Fire (boiling).  Beer, more than any other fermented beverage, is rooted in alchemy traditions and the belief that the brewer is descended from the alchemist is reflected in folk beliefs.

Thus, the symbol of the alchemists, the hexagon made up of two superimposed triangles, became the brewers’ trademark.  Numerous medieval and early modern manuscripts depict a six pointed star as a symbol of fermentation.

The Brewery Star dates back to antiquity and originated in India where it was a symbol for the cosmic unity of male and female.  Moreover, the Brewery Star is identical to the Seal of Solomon, the Star of David, or the Jewish Star.

Alchemists and brewers fused this symbolism with the theory of the four elements: Earth, Fire, Air and Water, which were placed in a cosmological context with the four quarters of the sky and four segments of a day.  To the brewmaster the brewery star represented the inherent connectedness of the elements he used to brew beer and reflected the seasons of the year through the brewing and festivities around beer.

The Four Elements

 

The Brewery Star

Scott has painted the Brewery Star once in this oil painting of 2XIPA by Southern Tier Brewing Company, which he painted during the Year of Beer Paintings.  The original painting, and limited-edition prints are available at our Etsy shop RealArtIsBetter.

2XIPA by Southern Tier Brewing Company with the Brewery Star.2XIPA by Southern Tier Brewing Company with the Brewery Star.

Thirsty Thursday Beer Painting #106. Bleeding Heart Brewery Beet IPA.

Happy Autumn Equinox Ladies and Gentlemen!  

Well, Equinox isn’t until tomorrow at 1:02PM PST, so I am celebrating a bit early.  Why celebrate the end of summer?  I guess I am just feeling lucky to have survived the summer craze.  Now I have made it to the “chill” time of year when everyone goes home at 9PM and the beer lines are manageable.

I decided to start doing Thirsty Thursday beer painting releases again.  So follow along every week to see a new beer-themed painting and blog post.

I made this beer painting to honor Bleeding Heart Brewery’s flagship beer — the Beet IPA.  That’s right, this is not a Rosé wine, this is an IPA brewed with water, malt, hops, BEETS, and yeast.  I know, I thought it was very strange at first, and that’s why I had to order it.  The beets add an earthy and slightly sweet flavor to the hoppy brew.  Now I order this beer every time.  I have visited this Palmer, Alaska brewery three times and it makes me wish I lived in Palmer.  The irony of this brewery is the brewers are using a system not much larger than my home brewery, and yet, they seem to make enough product to stay in business and to sell commercially.  Often times brewing a batch twice to fill one of their tiny fermenters.  The price is a bit steep for a new start up brewery, but I have yet to try a brew from these artisanal brewing artists that wasn’t worth the $6 – $10 per 12 oz serving.  I love the farm setting, and the avant-garde beers are cutting edge.  This is a true farmhouse brewery complete with chickens and cows.  The beer garden is as fun to drink beer in as any I have ever visited.  Often there’s a food truck offering delicious grub that pairs perfectly with the brew.  If you are an Alaskan, or traveling in Alaska, and you don’t make a pilgrimage to Bleeding Heart, conveniently located behind the Alaska State Fairgrounds, you are making a big mistake.

Cheers to Bleeding Heart, a brewery that will “make it” from sheer tenacity, with great products, a wonderful setting, and fabulous personality.  A hidden gem waiting to explode.  I would invest now if I were you!  This brewery is a solid addition to the craft beer community of Alaska. 

The original oil painting sold, but 52 limited-edition prints are for sale at my Etsy shop RealArtIsBetter.

Thirsty Thursday Beer Painting #106. Beet IPA by Bleeding Heart Brewery in Palmer, Alaska. By Scott Clendaniel. 8"x10", oil on panel.

Thirsty Thursday Beer Painting #106. Beet IPA by Bleeding Heart Brewery in Palmer, Alaska. By Scott Clendaniel. 8″x10″, oil on panel.

15 Highlights from Our Trip to Iceland, Russia and Germany

~ by Maria Benner

We just returned from an epic trip to Iceland, Russia and Germany.  The trip was my mom’s idea — she wanted to show us the real Russia.  On the way there, we had a layover in Iceland, so we decided to extend it for two days, and on the way back we extended our layover in Germany for a week.  In Iceland we stayed two nights in Reykjavik.  In Russia we flew into Moscow, took a train to a small village called Izmaylovo, then cruised from Moscow to St. Petersburg.  In Germany we flew into Frankfurt, and took the train to Bacharach, then went on a boat ride up the Rhein River to Koblenz, and took trains to Baden Baden, Munich, and Rothenburg.

So, here are 15 highlights from this month-long journey.

  1. The sights on the Golden Circle route in Iceland, which are Þingvellir National Park with a rift valley caused by the separation of 2 tectonic plates, the Geysir that shoots water 70 meters in the air, and the incredibly gorgeous Gullfoss Waterfalls.

2. Red Square in Moscow.  This was my third time visiting Red Square, and each time I can’t believe I’m standing there, because it’s such a famous and powerful place.  I was hoping Putin’s motorcade would drive out the Kremlin gates, but no luck.

3. Going on a hay ride on a little buggy in a small village called Izmaylovo in Russia with our new friend we called Uncle Bob.  We also cut birch branches for the banya.

Hay ride

4. Taking a real Russian banya, which is a Russian sauna heated by a big brick stove.  We made brooms out of birch branches and whacked each other with them.  Supposedly that’s good for blood circulation.

Russian Banya

5. Going for a walk in a pristine Russian pine forest.

Russian pine forest.

6. Once we got on the river cruise, our ship had to go through many locks, which are devices used for raising and lowering boats between stretches of water of different levels on river and canal waterways. Here’s a time-lapse video of the last lock we went through.

7. The Pogost in Kizhi, a church built without a single nail.  It has 30,000 wooden shingles on the onion domes.  The church was being restored, so this is the best picture I got of it, without showing the construction work.  Restoration should be complete in 2020.

The Pogost in Kizhi.

 

8. The Vodka Museum.

Vodka Museum in Russia.

9. St. Isaac’s Cathedral in St. Petersburg, which took 40 years to build.  Those green columns are solid malachite.

St. Isaac’s Cathedral in St. Petersburg.

10. Peterhof Palace, the Versailles of Russia.

Peterhof Palace

11.  Staying in a castle hostel in Bacharach Germany.  The castle was on top of a hill, and there were 400 steps up to our room.

Burg Stahleck Castle

12.  Seeing the Lorelei on the Rhein River, which is a rock headland.  Legends say that a maiden named the Lorelei lives on the rock and lures fishermen to their death with her song.  In high school we had to memorize a very long poem in German for Frau Fischer’s class, and everyone had to recite it in front of the whole class.

Lorelei

13. Bathing in the mineral waters of Roman baths called Friedrichsbad in Baden Baden.  The Romans were the first to construct bathing facilities there in order to benefit from the special water.  Men and women all bathe naked here.  Sorry, no pictures.

14. Drinking beer at the famous Hofbräuhaus in München.

15. Last, but not least, is the tour with the Night Watchman of Rothenburg.  This man came up with a genius idea to dress up as the night watchman from several centuries ago, and do a one-hour tour every night in English.

The Night Watchman of Rothenburg

This was definitely one of the best trips of my life!  Thank you Mom for making it happen!!!

Our First 1% for Art Project

~ by Maria Benner

We recently completed our first 1% for Art project.  What is 1% for Art?  Here’s a short summary of the law.  The State of Alaska and the Municipality of Anchorage recognize that it is the government’s responsibility to foster the development of culture and the arts through the purchase or commissioning of works of art for municipal buildings, schools or other municipal facilities. So 1% of capital expenditures for municipal buildings and facilities are devoted to the acquisition of works of art to be permanently placed or incorporated in such buildings or facilities.  When there is a need for art, the State, or Muni requests proposals from artists for specific locations.  Many artists apply for these opportunities, and the competition is pretty stiff.  Artists from outside Alaska can apply too, making competition even tougher.  We’ve been submitting proposals for a couple years, and our list of rejections was getting pretty long.  But finally, we submitted a proposal for bicycle racks at Ryan Middle School in Fairbanks, and our project was accepted!  Then we had to submit a proposed budget, proof of insurance, a notarized and signed paper promising that we don’t have employees, so we’re not required to get Worker’s Comp insurance, and some other paperwork, before we were all set up to proceed with the fun part.

We recently had an epiphany that opened up many more opportunities in the public art realm.  We realized that we can hire fabricators to create installations, or sculptures that Scott designs.  Now we can propose pieces of art made from metal, glass, wood, anything!  Before, we were just responding to requests for murals, or paintings.  So Scott designed three bicycle racks that would be installed in front of the building.  They were shaped like a moose rack, a bear with a salmon in its mouth, and spruce trees.  We hired a local fabricator in Fairbanks, Warren from Alaska Ornamental Iron.  We chose him, because we had seen his work at a neighbor’s cabin in McCarthy, and his business seemed very professional.  When we called him, he said he could do the work, and promptly sent us a bid.

When Warren came to town on a work trip, he stopped by our studio, and we discussed the designs.  Scott made some tweaks, and sent them to Warren in various file formats.  Then Scott and I flew to Fairbanks to scout locations for the bike racks, and to meet with the school Principal, and maintenance manager.  We all discussed, and agreed upon the locations, and they approved the final designs.

Warren took several months to build the racks out of steel tubing.  He sent us pictures of his progress, and we forwarded them to our contact at the school, so they would know what was going on.  When the bike racks were complete, Scott flew to Fairbanks to help Warren and his team install them.  The installation took longer than expected, because such projects always do, so Scott didn’t have time to take photos for his portfolio before he had to catch his plane back to Anchorage.  So I flew to Fairbanks just for a couple hours a week later to make sure that the installation was completely done, and to take photos.  I rented a bicycle, so I could use it as a prop in the photos to demonstrate how the bike racks work.

I just sent off the final invoice to the school district.  There were three invoices.  One for 1/3 for materials, and another one a couple months later for Warren’s fees.  The final one is for travel expenses, and all other costs associated with the project.

In summary, I’m glad I did a lot of research about budgeting for public art projects, and read the book The Artist’s Guide to Public Art: How to Find and Win Commissions by Lynn Basa.  We read and heard about a lot of horror stories of artists going over budget and having to take out a second mortgage on their house, or getting in way over their head on a project that’s too big and complicated.  Luckily, we did everything right this time, got lucky with our fabricator, who ended up being very professional and created exactly what Scott designed.  We learned a lot about the process, and hopefully will have more opportunities like this in the future.

Bear with salmon in its mouth bicycle rack. 1% for Art at Ryan Middle School in Fairbanks. Designed by Scott Clendaniel, fabricated by Alaska Ornamental Iron.

Bear with salmon in its mouth bicycle rack. 1% for Art at Ryan Middle School in Fairbanks. Designed by Scott Clendaniel, fabricated by Alaska Ornamental Iron.

Moose rack bicycle rack. 1% for Art at Ryan Middle School in Fairbanks. Designed by Scott Clendaniel, fabricated by Alaska Ornamental Iron.

Moose rack bicycle rack. 1% for Art at Ryan Middle School in Fairbanks. Designed by Scott Clendaniel, fabricated by Alaska Ornamental Iron.

Spruce trees bicycle rack. 1% for Art at Ryan Middle School in Fairbanks. Designed by Scott Clendaniel, fabricated by Alaska Ornamental Iron.

Spruce trees bicycle rack. 1% for Art at Ryan Middle School in Fairbanks. Designed by Scott Clendaniel, fabricated by Alaska Ornamental Iron.