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 #135. Octopus Drinking Beer.

Did you know that after a male octopus slings its sperm with a specially affected arm (not a tentacle, they are called arms) it then withers and dies?  The female receives the gametes in her mantle cavity then finds a protected spot to deposit the fertilized eggs, after which she also withers and dies.  Pretty depressing that right after achieving your reproductive goals in life, to simply sit back and die, never to see your offspring.  This octopus is not even thinking about reproduction though, he is only thinking about how he still has six arms left without beer!  That is like only having 1/4 of a beer in your human hands.  It also might be a problem that this guy is underwater and I am sure that this beverage is leaking out into the sea.  Better get on it you suffering cephalopod, and slurp the suds down your beak before it dissolves faster than you can say octopus ink.  Octopoda are smart, and this guy proves it by choosing beer as his beverage of choice.  Cheers to intelligent decisions!  Drink beer!  Be merry!  Don’t spawn out too early!

This original oil painting, and 52 limited-edition prints are available at our Etsy shop RealArtIsBetter.

Thirsty Thursday Beer Painting #135. Octopus Drinking Beer. 16"x20", oil on panel. By Scott Clendaniel.

Thirsty Thursday Beer Painting #135. Octopus Drinking Beer. 16″x20″, oil on panel. By Scott Clendaniel.

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5 Alaskan Mother’s Day Gift Ideas

~ by Maria Benner

I’ve lived in Alaska most of my life, and when I shop for gifts, I always try to buy from small local businesses, because they make this place quirky, interesting and cultured.  Without our artsy community, Anchorage would be a sad place.  So, I came up with a list of five businesses that offer perfect gifts for Mother’s Day.  You can feel good about supporting the local economy, while giving a unique and meaningful gift.  FYI, Mother’s Day is May 13th.

  • Food & Wine Class at Marx Brothers Cafe.  Mom will get to explore wine pairing with 18 foods and 9 wines.  That will surely make her forget all her worries.  The last class until next January is May 19th.  The cost is $95.

Marx Brothers Caesar Salad Class

qiviut hat

  • Yoga Classes.  There are many local yoga studios that offer classes for all ability levels.  Mom would come home relaxed and centered after a class.

Cheers to all the wonderful and caring Moms who make this world go round!

Thirsty Thursday Beer Painting #134. Lucybelle Saison by Sante Adairius Rustic Ales

Lucybelle from Sante Adairius Rustic Ales is a wonderful brew that is worth the effort to find.  I was lucky enough to get a bottle in the mail from a patron who commissioned an oil painting of his wedding day in Monterey Bay, and wanted this beer in the painting.  It might be easier to stay at home and drink your generic regular beer, but a trip to the coast is always worth the money, the effort, and the time.  Looking west over the Pacific Ocean, a beautiful sunset on a perfect beach.  A crisp, delicate, dry ale served in a classy tulip glass making the perfect accompaniment to the departure of the sun.  A trip to find Sante Adairius beer is definitely rewarding.  With a tasting room at the brewery in Capitola and a great pub in Santa Cruz, the destination is worth the trip, not to mention the delicious ales you’ll taste when you get there!  Lucybelle is a great Saison, not that bubblegum sweet beverage some breweries call a Saison. This is a real, crisp, slightly sour, and refreshing version with a lower ABV so you can remember the night, and be ready for some late night fun!

Cheers to the California beaches, and beers like Lucybelle, a real Saison brewed the old fashioned way!

This original oil painting, and 52 limited-edition prints are available at our Etsy shop RealArtIsBetter.

Thirsty Thursday Beer Painting #134. Lucybelle by Sante Adairius Rustic Ales. 11"x14", oil on panel. By Scott Clendaniel.

Thirsty Thursday Beer Painting #134. Lucybelle by Sante Adairius Rustic Ales. 11″x14″, oil on panel. By Scott Clendaniel.

Thirsty Thursday Beer Painting #133. Day Old White Beer by Anchorage Brewing Co.

What do you do with some day-old bread… besides eat it?  If you are Fire Island Rustic Bakeshop, or Anchorage Brewing Company, you make an avant-garde Belgian wit-bier with it.  Some 130 pounds of day-old sourdough bread from the delicious Fire Island Rustic Bakeshop were added to Anchorage Brewing’s mash tun to make this untraditional wheat beer.  Wit-bier by definition is a Belgian-style wheat beer with as much as 50% wheat in the mash.  It is spiced with coriander and orange peel.  The world’s most famous wit-bier, Hoegaarden, made in a huge factory in Hoegaarden, Belgium makes the whole town smell like SweeTARTS candy.  ABC’s Day Old White Beer is a good representation of the style despite its unique addition of whole loaves of Alaskan sourdough bread.  I thought I would taste some sour notes, or funk, but I guess that was all killed in the boil.  Delicious beer made by one of my favorite breweries and tied to my favorite neighborhood bakery!  If you haven’t had some baked goods from Fire Island Rustic Bakeshop, you are due to take a field trip there and get some goodness!  Also get in to ABC to pick up a four pack of some of the last remaining cans of Day Old White Beer, as this is probably a one of a kind batch.
Cheers to Anchorage making some artisanal goodies!

The original oil painting was a commission, but 52 limited-edition prints are available at our Etsy shop RealArtIsBetter.

Thirsty Thursday Beer Painting #133. Day Old Wheat Beer by Anchorage Brewing Co. 8"x10", oil on panel. By Scott Clendaniel

Thirsty Thursday Beer Painting #133. Day Old Wheat Beer by Anchorage Brewing Co. 8″x10″, oil on panel. By Scott Clendaniel

BREAKING: President Trump Threatens to Bring Back Prohibition if Congress Doesn’t Approve Mexican Wall

WASHINGTON — Congress has rejected Trump’s demand for $25 billion for construction of the Mexico border wall that he promised during his campaign. The budget that Trump reluctantly signed a week ago includes $1.6 billion for border security, enough for just about 33 miles of new barrier plus about twice that much of replacement fencing.  However, that was not enough for the President.  On April 1st, President Trump tweeted, “Enough is enough. If Congress doesn’t fund the Mexican wall, I’m going to bring back Prohibition. That will teach them!”

Only 69 of 292 Republicans on Capitol Hill supported the wall project, but after Sunday’s tweet, 100% percent of Congress agreed to fund it, rather than risk losing easy access to alcohol.  Senator Jeff Flake (R-AZ) had concerns about paying for the project, but is now in full support, saying, “I don’t care how much it costs, we just can’t have Prohibition again!”  That was a common sentiment among members of Congress on Sunday, as many consider the threat of Prohibition real, and are afraid that it would significantly harm America’s economy, not to mention increase crime rates, and inflict significant damage on citizens’ morale.  Members of the House were especially concerned about a huge public outcry, and large demonstrations if President Trump followed through with his ultimatum.  Congress scheduled an emergency session on Easter Sunday, which also happens to be April Fool’s Day to pass a bill that would appease the President, and eliminate the possibility of Prohibition.  Many Democrats were seen shaking their heads in disbelief that one tweet could have so much impact on the country’s leaders.

This story is developing.  Check back soon for more updates.

Maria Benner is the Business & Marketing Manager for Real Art Is Better, and has no journalistic credentials, but she did want to prank blog followers on April Fool’s Day.

Thirsty Thursday Beer Painting #132. Spruce IPA by Alaskan Brewing Co.

What is the official Alaska State tree?  The Sitka Spruce, which is also the source of the critical ingredient in Alaskan Brewing Company’s Spruce IPA, a beer brewed with Spruce tips.  This IPA is a must-drink!  I know New England IPAs are all the rage.  “Have a milkshake,” people are saying.  “Try this coffee-infused IPA, it has never been better.”  I will, and have tried all these varieties.  The flavor Alaskan Brewing put out in its Spruce IPA is unique.  IPA is rapidly becoming the largest style with the most variations.

“I made this weird beer, it has a lot of hops in it, but I don’t know what to call it.”

“Dude, it has lots of hops, call it an IPA.”

This seems to be the most common solution to these unique beers and I can’t really say the hop-forward Spruce IPA is any different, but it is different, and that is the problem.  What do you do with these avant-garde beer styles that do not fit any of the specific BJCP (Beer Judge Certification Program) style guidelines?  Craft beer is evolving too rapidly for the BJCP to keep up.  The answer is easy, just drink the tasty beverage and quit complaining about the name.

Cheers to Alaskan Brewing Spruce IPA, a great ale that brings a smile to my lips!

The original oil painting, and 52 limited-edition prints are available at our Etsy shop Real Art Is Better.

Thirsty Thursday Beer Painting #132. Spruce IPA by Alaskan Brewing Co. 8"x10", oil on panel. By Scott Clendaniel.

Thirsty Thursday Beer Painting #132. Spruce IPA by Alaskan Brewing Co. 8″x10″, oil on panel. By Scott Clendaniel.

Winter Trip to McCarthy | Good Idea, Bad Idea

~ by Maria Benner

Log Cabin in Alaska in winter

Did you watch the Animaniacs in the 1990s?  One of my favorite segments was Good Idea, Bad Idea.  On our recent trip to our cabin in McCarthy I kept recalling the comical cartoon as we stumbled through our winter adventure in a remote section of Alaska.

Good Idea: Driving over 300 miles to our cabin in McCarthy in a 4×4 Chevy truck. We had chains, a snow shovel, winter gear, and plenty of food and beer in case we got stuck.

Bad Idea: Not checking the weather report before departure.  Minutes after leaving our condo in Anchorage we were driving through a snow storm that lasted for half the drive.  Once we got to the McCarthy road we had sunny weather, and the first part of the road was not bad, but then the snow got deeper and we ended up getting stuck, and had to put on tire chains.  The drive was super slow after that point.

Good Idea: Buying a snow machine last fall so we could take all our stuff from the truck to the cabin quickly in the winter.  We parked it by our cabin up on blocks so it wouldn’t freeze to the ground, and covered it with a tarp.

Bad Idea: Buying a 1993 machine and neglecting to get it tuned up in Anchorage before bringing it to McCarthy.  In the winter we can’t drive all the way to the cabin, so we park about 3 miles away, and ski up to it.  Once we got there we uncovered the snow machine, dug it out, and tried starting it.  We were really close a couple times, but it just wouldn’t start.  So we had to ski back down to the truck, and haul everything that couldn’t freeze on sleds up to the cabin.  We arrived after midnight!  That was a really long day!  In the morning we got the snowmachine to start, and got the rest of our stuff up to the cabin with minimal effort!

Skiing up to the cabin with a few supplies.

snow machine snow mobile in Alaska

Scott hauling supplies with our snow machine across the frozen Kennicott River.

Good Idea: Picking a week to go to the cabin when we don’t have any major projects going on, or looming deadlines for about a week after our scheduled return date.

Bad Idea: Assuming that we can drive out of McCarthy on the scheduled day, and get back to Anchorage to complete projects before deadlines.  While we were in McCarthy there was a big snow storm that lasted for two days.  It was a gorgeous day, and we went for a long ski in the snow, but we were really nervous about how much snow was accumulating on the McCarthy Road, our only way out of McCarthy with our truck.  We have a big deadline at the end of the month, and if we got stuck in McCarthy for a few extra days, we would have missed out on a big opportunity.  The road only gets plowed when the airstrip in McCarthy has over 18″ of snow and a plow needs to get to the runway.

Snow storm in Alaska

Heavy snow storm.

Good Idea: Making a meal plan and bringing enough food for a week.  There are no stores or restaurants open in the winter in McCarthy.

Bad Idea: Forgetting to leave extra food at the cabin just in case we got stuck for a few extra days.  We followed our food plan, and ended up having a bit of extra food that could last for about two days, but we decided to stock the cabin with dried goods for future trips.

Good Idea: Going skiing on the glacier, visiting friends, and relaxing around the wood stove in the cabin.

Bad Idea: Planning to do a little bit of work during our week long vacation.  We brought our laptops and Scott packed his oil painting kit, and we did manage to work, but we were really tempted to play hooky the whole time.

glacier ice in Alaska glacier ice cave iceberg

Checking out an iceberg on the Kennicott Glacier.

Overall I have more fond memories of the trip, and am starting to forget all the inconveniences and challenges.  I can say we learned many lessons from our experience, and hopefully our future winter trips will go much more smoothly!