Tag Archives: Alaska Artist

Are you Ready to Rondy?!

Let’s Rondy! 36″x18″, oil on panel.

February 15th 1935, 24 years before Alaska was even a state, Anchorage local Vern Johnson started the first ever Anchorage Fur Rendezvous!  Miners and trappers were already in town awakening from the hibernation months of December and January with the hopes of restocking supplies and selling some of their recent harvest.  Only three days long, the original Fur Rondy hosted hockey, basketball, skiing, boxing and children’s sled dog races, and not much else.  

The event has grown over the last 84 years and people have come to expect a grand time during this traditional Alaskan celebration.  I remember Rondys of the past — the festival used to last three whole weeks and we got a day off from school just to enjoy the festivities.  My mom would bundle us all up in our snow gear and we would trudge off to downtown Anchorage to ride the Ferris wheel, eat elephant ears, and watch super cool events.  I remember the party kicking off with the amazing fireworks extravaganza!  Some of my favorite classic events as a kid were the Grand Prix Auto Race, World Championship Sled Dog Races, the blanket toss, snowshoe softball, the amazing Rondy Grand Parade, and one not to be missed — the snow sculptures. 

The festival was shortened from three weeks to ten days in 2008 due to budget constraints.  We don’t have the Grand Prix anymore, but we still race sled dogs down 4th Avenue and slam beers at every base during snowshoe softball.  Another popular event is the Miners and Trappers Ball, with a beard contest and many costumes made from blue tarps, duct tape and Carhartts.  The outhouse races are always a highlight, and of course the new favorite is the Running of the Reindeer.  A bunch of Rondy participants dress in costumes and brave running with a pack of horned reindeer.  I always wonder if the reindeer are infuriated by the hotdog stands lining the street, selling famous reindeer dogs.  Another new tradition is Anchorage Brewing Company’s Rondy Brew. This year it is a delicious NEIPA brewed with 100% Strata hops, which taste like passion fruit!  

Real Art is Better is strategically located in the 4th Avenue Marketplace, across the street from Rondy Headquarters, in the NW corner of the building.  We clean it up and convert it to a small retail space for the weekend.  There is also a craft fair inside the building.  I invite you to stop in and check out my newest work and take in the view of the Rondy Carnival from our amazing Inlet view window.  We’ll be open Saturday and Sunday, 11am – 6pm.  I have several new art cards never before released, and many new paintings.  I bake cookies for the event and there are great snacks to be found at the craft fair.  The studio is a great place to warm up after watching the mushers, or making the trek down the hill to 2nd Avenue to see the snow sculptures.  The blanket toss and fur auction are right across the street in the 3rd Avenue parking lot.  

If you are getting fed up with Alaska style cabin fever, Rondy is the remedy.  This is the biggest social event of the winter!  Celebrate the end of hibernation season and get ready to PARTY!  Dust off those styling furs and show off Anchorage style!

Wear your Rondy pin, or risk jail time!

Advertisements

Goodbye Summer, Hello Studio

Well, we got back from our cabin in McCarthy yesterday, and we don’t have any trips planned for the foreseeable future, so it’s time to get back to regular life and knuckle down in the studio.  Today I signed the contract for a big 1% for Art project at Gladys Wood Elementary in Anchorage, so now I can start working on the design.  I gathered some good reference material in McCarthy, where Fall arrived a couple weeks earlier than here in Anchorage.  We also picked about 13 pounds of lingonberries, and I’ll be making many jars of jam this week.  I’m looking forward to being grounded here in Anchorage for the winter, and working in the studio.  We’ll be hosting a First Friday in October for the first time since last April!  I hope you’ll stop by.  I’ll be baking my famous chocolate chip cookies for the event.

Here are photos from my proposal for the Gladys Wood Elementary 1% for Art project.  The requested theme was Southcentral Alaskan natural scenery.  The final paintings will be different, but this is the overall concept based on my existing oil paintings.  I’ll be creating four large elliptical paintings for the walls, and six circular ones for the ceiling.  They will be displayed in two different hallways.  One hallway is themed Spring, and the other Fall.  I have until October 2019 to complete this project.  I’ll post updates on Facebook and Instagram along the way.

First Firkin Friday Art Show at Midnight Sun Brewing Co.

Twice a year I get to have art shows at Midnight Sun Brewing Company in Anchorage.  Once in January, and also in June.  There are a couple perks to showing my oil paintings at this venue.  First, I get to tap a firkin (a small keg) at 5pm of opening day to kick off the month-long show.  Usually the firkin is filled with one of MSBC’s delicious brews cask-conditioned with special ingredients.  For example, at my upcoming art opening this Friday, June 1st, the firkin will be Panty Peeler Belgian-style ale cask-conditioned with tequila-soaked oak spirals and lime!  That sounds festive and refreshing!  Another benefit of having an art show at a brewery is that every time I go there to check on the show, I order a beer, which is tax deductible!

I’ve been working on several new pieces for this show, including paintings of the Homer Harbor, a K2 plane flying by Broken Tooth Mountain, a tandem bicycle, and a 5ft x 4ft piece of birch trees that is for people who have big empty walls.  I’ll be posting pictures of these paintings each day for the rest of the week on my Instagram, Facebook, and Twitter feeds.

Click here for details about the event, and please invite your friends!  I hope you can be there at 5pm on June 1st to watch me tap the firkin, but if not, we’ll be there until 8pm on Friday, and my art will be on display and available for sale until July 5th.

I hope that when I tap the firkin, this happens, because a beer shower is always fun, although I don’t want to waste too much beer.

Thirsty Thursday Beer Painting #137. Live painting at Odd Man Rush Brewing.

Hello beer art lovers!  It’s Thirsty Thursday yet again!  How did the last week go by so fast?  There is a sweet brewery in Eagle River, not far from Anchorage, called Odd Man Rush Brewing.  The brewers there are making some pretty great beers like the coffee-infused red IPA, a new hazy IPA, as well as many other great new beers.  You might ask what the name Odd Man Rush means.  It is a hockey term referring to when one player is in the penalty box, which creates an odd number of players on the ice and the team with the “power play” (another hockey term referring to the team that has more players on the ice) has an opportunity to rush the goal.  So there is a serious hockey theme going on at OMR Brewing.  Combined with 80’s and 90’s nostalgia as well.  Hockey sticks and cassette tapes along the walls create an ambiance that brings me right back to my youth.  The huge scoreboard on the wall is very iconic to this brewery and sums up the aesthetic of the establishment.  I painted their popular flagship brew the Enforcer IPA.  I was amazed how the head on this American IPA held until I nearly finished the painting.  That’s well over an hour!  I would also like to mention how refreshing it was to not be drinking a NEIPA (New England IPA) for a change.  There is nothing wrong with the NEIPA style, but a great West Coast IPA will always have its place in my heart.  Enforcer is another hockey term, meaning a defenseman who dishes out the punishment, aggressively slamming the offense into the boards, and maybe even getting put in the penalty box for roughing.  In my humble opinion, that’s a great name for this particular beer!  If hockey is your game, you’ll feel right at home at this taproom.  Put on the foil, these goons are making some great brews!  Cheers to your victory on the ice and in the brewery!

The original oil painting sold.  Limited-edition prints are available at our Etsy shop RealArtIsBetter.

Thirsty Thursday #137. Enforcer IPA by Odd Man Rush Brewing. Painted live at the brewery's taproom. 8"x10", oil on panel. By Scott Clendaniel

Thirsty Thursday #137. Enforcer IPA by Odd Man Rush Brewing. Painted live at the brewery’s taproom. 8″x10″, oil on panel. By Scott Clendaniel

May First Friday Art Walk | Open Studio Mode vs. Work Mode

~ by Maria Benner

This Friday, May 4 is the first Friday of the month, which means that most local art galleries will have new art shows and will be hosting receptions.  The artists are normally present at these events, and often there is live music and complimentary refreshments.  Most of the action happens downtown, but there are many venues around town that host First Friday events.  The Anchorage Press is a good source for event listings.  Scott and I usually open our studio to the public for First Friday Art Walk, but not every month.  This one in May will be the last one we’ll host at the studio until October.  Scott will have an art opening in June, but it will be at Midnight Sun Brewing Company.  In preparation for an open studio event, we always have to do quite a bit of cleaning and rearranging of paintings and studio equipment.  Work mode and open studio mode are very different.  We completely clear my desk to make room for prints and greeting cards, put away all the painting stuff and scrub the floor.  Here are some pictures to give you an idea of what the studio looks like in work mode, versus how we make it look for visitors during open studio events.  We hope you’ll stop by this First Friday from 5:00 – 7:30 pm.  We’ll have cookies that Scott will bake from scratch, and new paintings that have never been shown before.  The address is 333 W 4th Avenue, Suite 4 (inside the 4th Avenue Market Place).

Work mode

Work mode

Work mode

Open studio mode

Open studio mode

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

Aspen Trees in Fall custom oil painting. 36"x18", oil on panel.

Commissioned Paintings for Holiday Gifts 2017

Every holiday season I get many requests for commissions, and this year was no exception.  By now I know what to expect, and how to get ready for the holiday rush.  As always, each painting had a special story behind it, and I loved being in on the surprises.  My favorite painting this year was the view of looking up at aspen trees in the Fall (Maria wanted to keep it).  The best response was from a customer in Texas about the Shiner Bock painting, “OMG THIS PAINTING IS ABSOLUTELY FANTASTIC!!! You’ve officially made me cry! Today has been an absolutely horrible day and you’ve made it so much better. Thank you doesn’t even begin to cover it!”  Messages like this make me happy about being an artist.

We take a picture of every painting that leaves the studio, so here is a slideshow of the paintings I made this holiday season (click on the pictures to view a slideshow).  They are all oil paint on wood panel, framed in a natural ash wood frame. I prime my paint supports red and gold before applying the oil paint, so you can see the gold paint shining through gaps in the oil paint.  This is my signature technique, and one way you can always recognize a Clendaniel original.

If you’d like to commission one, just let me know, or you can read Maria’s blog post about how to commission a painting.