~ by Maria Benner
For those of you who are considering ordering gifts from Real Art Is Better this holiday season, here are some important dates to keep in mind.
HOLIDAY SALES EVENTS
- First Friday Annual Holiday Open Studio Event
- What: we will transform our studio into a pop-up shop for the evening. Complimentary refreshments included. Receive a free 99 Bottles of Beer on the Wall poster with every purchase of $20 or higher! Enter a drawing for a Clendaniel art print of your choice.
- When: December 1st, 5:30pm – 7:30pm.
- Where: Real Art Is Better Studio. Inside the 4th Avenue Market Place in Suite 4. 333 W 4th Avenue.
- Winter Maker’s Market
- What: 30 of Alaska’s most talented artists and crafters will set up shop at the Church of Love in beautiful downtown Spenard. Complete your holiday shopping all in one place.
- When: December 2nd, 12pm – 5pm.
- Where: Church of Love Spenard, 3502 Spenard Rd.
DEADLINE TO COMMISSION OIL PAINTINGS
The last day to order a custom painting is Friday, December 8th if the painting needs to be mailed, and December 14th if you’re picking it up at the studio.
IMPORTANT SHIPPING DEADLINES
When you order from us online, your order will be shipped within one business day. Here are the last days that your package can be shipped in order for it to arrive by December 25th.
The original oil painting sold. Limited-edition prints are available at our Etsy shop RealArtIsBetter.
This week I was lucky enough to get a chance to visit La Cumbre Brewing’s tasting room in Albuquerque, New Mexico! We set up a live painting session ahead of time, and I worked outside in the beer garden right up until it was getting too dark to paint. I decided to paint one of the brewery’s flagship beers, Elevated IPA. This beer is aggressively hopped, and tastes just like advertised at 100 IBUs. La Cumbre is Spanish for peak, and the brewery is at 5,313 feet altitude, so its tag line, “Get Elevated” is right on target. This was the first beer I drank after we landed in New Mexico, and it seemed to be everywhere we went. A very enchanting beer from the Land of Enchantment. This brew pairs well with street tacos, burritos or enchiladas. Whatever it is that you are doing, I recommend pairing it with a great IPA. Goes well with hiking, biking, or warming up around the fire! Cheers to the Elevated IPA! A beer that takes it to the next level!
This original oil painting, and limited-edition prints are available for sale at my Etsy shop RealArtIsBetter.
A year and a half ago Maria (my wife and Business Manager) contacted Crush Wine Bistro about the possibility of me having a First Friday art show there. That’s definitely the longest waiting list we’ve been on for an art show so far. That gave us a lot of time to think about which paintings to show. Then, about two months prior to my art show, we found out that Sacks Cafe closed, and that Crush moved into that space. We went with the flow, and adjusted the number of paintings to hang on the walls, since the space was now totally different. This is my first time showing at this venue, and so far I’m pleased with the exposure and sales that it has generated. If you haven’t gone to the new Crush location yet, check it out this week. My art is coming down on Sunday, October 29th. You can purchase paintings and prints directly from Crush. The best part about this venue is that the commission is only 5%! That’s unheard of in this town. Normally, it ranges between 20% – 50%. That’s one reason I like having First Fridays at my studio. Speaking of which, we’ll be hosting one in November. Our studio is inside the 4th Avenue Market Place in Suite 4 (333 W. 4th Avenue). Stop by between 5:30 – 7:30. We’ll clean up the painting studio and turn it into a pop-up gallery for the evening.
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.
~ 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.