Saturday, August 25, 2012

Festa Italiana! Saturday, August 25, 2012.

Buona Sera Tutti Amici!  Today is the last day of the annual celebration of all things Italian, Festa Italiana.  It takes place in Pioneer Courthouse Square each year, featuring wonderful entertainers, great Italian food offerings from some of Portland's finest Italian restaurants, a grape stomp, and fun things for the kids, too. 
This is Nathan Brian Wine, owner of a wonderful tenor voice, powering out Italian classics.
Today's schedule of entertainment and food.  They always have a raffle, too, featuring a trip to Italy, of course!
Sadly, this map did not show Pitigliano.  It's located in the southern-most area of Toscana.

I departed the studio a little early today, in order to jog by and get some photos.  At five PM, the crowd wasn't capacity, but it's going to be a beautiful night, so I'm sure the square will be jammed later.  This was the very first event we attended as new residents of Portland, way back in 2003 and we met some wonderful people who became good friends, Kay and Bob Vogt.  Kay and Bob now live full-time in Arizona, so I hope they have a look at this post, for old time's sake.
Lots of folks enjoying an early dinner at the Festa.
A small portion of the crowd enjoying the songs.  Up under those white umbrellas is the wine garden, which should be packed with wannabe Italians tonight, cin-cin!
How could you have an Italian Festival without the Vespa Dealer hawking these classic scooters?!
Hey...Mario, this a good deal or not?  Remember my experience with a Vespa!!
Vespa of Portland had a beautiful selection of these fine machines on display.  Sure took me back!
And finally, they had a couple of shiny, new, powerful Ducati motorcycles to tease the crowd.  I'm sure Mario and Tarziello will enjoy this photo.  They both love motorcycles, including Harley's.

Our nearly two years living in Pitigliano, Italy, will always be one of the best times of our lives and I often feel like I left my heart there.  Certain movies and songs can take me back instantly and my memories remain vivid.  I can still remember the language and many of the conversations with family and friends.  I don't know if we'll ever make it back there, but we'll never forget the people and the land.

So, before I get all misty-eyed, let me invite you to hustle on over to Pioneer Courthouse Square and enjoy this final beautiful night of the Festa.  Settle into the wine garden with a good bottle of Chianti and enjoy the magic!  

Friday, August 24, 2012

Big A** Sandwiches.

If you ever watch The Travel Channel, you may have seen a series of programs dedicated to finding the "Best Sandwich in America".  The host, Adam Richman, traveled around the nation, sampling countless amazing creations, eventually narrowing the competitors down to several regions.
The Cart!  Lisa Wood is busy taking orders from a huge crowd, lined-up to the left.  I would estimate there were about forty people waiting, and hoping they would get their orders filled.

Portland had an entry in the Northwest Region and you probably already know the name.'s a massive mountain of food piled high between the halves of a ciabata roll.  It's made exclusively by a young couple who own and operate the Portland food cart named for their supreme creation, "The Big Ass Sandwich".

Brian and Lisa Wood's masterpiece consists of a large amount of slow-roasted beef (or turkey or ham) and two massive handfuls of hand-cut French fries, all smothered in their homemade bechamel cheese sauce!  Mind you, the fries are IN THE SANDWICH!  Host, Adam Richman, could hardly get his hands around the thing, much less open his mouth wide enough to take a bite.
Here she is again.  It was tough to walk away without waiting to see if I might get lucky and get one of these before they sold out.

So, after seeing this incredible (and now legendary) sandwich sensation become the Northwest Region Champion, and move on the the national finals, I must admit to becoming a bit obsessed with trying one.  Today, I put a ten dollar bill in my jogging shorts and headed for the studio.  I dropped-off some stuff, then grabbed my camera and ran the couple of blocks to the food cart pod located at SW 3rd Avenue and Ash Street.  The goal:  Procure one of Portland's latest Food Culture Superstars.

There it was!  Unfortunately for me, it was surrounded by hungry, curious gourmets.  All I could do was snap a couple of photos and head back to the studio empty-handed.  Their operating hours are simply stated:  We're open until we sell out.  There was little doubt they would sell out this day and I was left with nothing but the dream.  I have a goal to try one of these gastronomic "wonders of the world" before moving to Hawaii.  It will, however, be shared.  The sandwich is simply too big for one person to consume!  If you Google the name, you can find out more about this Northwest business.  Sadly, the Big Ass Sandwich did not win the contest, but it represented Portland and the Great Northwest with honor. 

Wednesday, August 15, 2012

The Charles Daniels Portrait Found A Great Home.

What a great day.  I ran into Charles the other day and hoped to get him and his sisters over to the studio to take his portrait.  I've been trying to find a good home for it for some time now.  Charles didn't make it, but a day or two later I called him and he gave me the phone number of his son.  I called and left a message and hoped he would return my call.  I told him who I was and all about the portrait of his father, including my wish to give it to someone in the family.
Mr. Charles Gavin Daniels standing beside his father's portrait.  I think he's got the same sparkle in his eyes as his Dad.  Gavin is a high-energy guy with a quick wit and infectious laugh.

He not only returned my call, he made an appointment to meet me at the studio today at eleven AM.  I departed home just after ten, figuring he wouldn't be early.  A short run later and I was in the lobby of the Board of Trade Building, waiting for an elevator along with another person.

Just as the elevator arrived, the other gentleman turned to me and said, "Are you Gary?"  So, there was Mr. Charles Gavin Daniels, in person, early.  He said he remembered me telling him I jogged to the studio, so he took a not-so-wild guess that the guy standing next to him in running attire must be me.  He was correct!

We proceeded to the studio and as I opened the door he saw the portrait of his father.  His reaction was everything a painter could hope for.  We sat down and had a wonderful conversation.  Gavin, as his father calls him, is an artist, but what an artist!  He worked on the blockbuster movie "Coraline" and the just released today, "ParaNorman".  Those are some pretty impressive credentials in my book.  He was as nice as could be and we had a glass of wine to celebrate the transfer.  He told me he would take great care of the painting for the family.  I could not have been more impressed by him and I know the portrait will be well cared for.  Gavin's wife is also an artist, but I have yet to Google her.
Another shot of Charles and Gavin.

So, I was a little sad to say goodbye to the Charles Daniels portrait, but happy in the knowledge that it will have a great new home with the family that should have it.  I have no doubt I'll see Charles again before we move and I'm looking forward to his easy-going charm and wonderful sense of humor.  What a great day!  Hope yours was a good one, as well.

Sunday, August 12, 2012

The Bite of Oregon and Bridge Pedal.

It's a busy Sunday here in Portland.  It's the final day of The Bite of Oregon, the state's largest culinary festival which supports Oregon Special Olympics.  Also, today is the 17th annual Providence Bridge Pedal, the only day in the year when all ten of the bridges crossing the Willamette River are closed (in one direction) to automobiles for several hours to allow Portland's intrepid bicyclists to ride across.  From Sellwood to St. Johns, riders enjoy an unencumbered ride with great views of the city and surrounding areas.
A photo of the Providence Bridge Pedal, taken by Bill Robertson of KATU News.

The Bridge Pedal starts early morning and is completed by about noon, so I was limited to seeing some of the thousands of avid bicyclists from our living room windows.  The Bite of Oregon will only be ramping-up by the time I visit at about 1 PM.
A group of kayakers enjoying a warm and sunny Great Northwest day on the Willamette River.
Petunias and a very expensive over-fifty condo tower in the South Waterfront.  The joke is, "It's where old, rich Republicans go to die."  Or maybe not...I hear the joint is so exclusive they have defibrillators on the wall in every room.  Sweet!
The OHSU medical building and several eye-catching orange umbrellas.  South Waterfront.
Looks like somebody forgot to mow, or should I say "harvest" the ecologically-correct roof!
I'm jogging toward the Bite now, but this old wooden boat caught my good eye!  Enough of this traveljog...let's get to the food!!
I'm dripping with sweat and it's burning my eyes, but here we are at one of the entry points.
A very popular vendor today!  I wonder if it's being run by stars from the TV show?
The sign says it all.  My resistance was fortified by spending the only money I had to get in!  Works every time.
Mount Angel is south of Portland and famous for their Oktober Fest, among other things.
Another very popular spot with visitors.  Who doesn't love Dungeness crab?
Free samples!  Are you kidding me?!  No wonder there's a crowd here.
A "giant" wandered about keeping all the kids from getting bored.
An Oregon "Iron Chef" competition underway.  I don't know who won, but their creations sounded like winners.
The Craft Beer Garden.  I really could have enjoyed a refreshing glass of one of these lovingly-brewed elixirs, but with no cash, all there was to do was read the menu.
Just click on the image to enlarge the photos.  It's a good read!
Here from the state capitol, Salem, Adam's Rib always does well here.  The, wait.  The word, "aroma" does not do justice to the smell here.  I shall refer to it as...perfume.
Ahh-h, a personal favorite.  This fantastically good natured young man works for Al Forno Ferruzza, authentic Sicilian cuisine.  He did everything except give me a slice of this delectable pizza.  I told him he'd be famous the world over by tonight, so he did offer me a dollar off.  Again, no money!
I thought this was a pretty nice deal for those Moms with hungry young ones.
Mita's Italian Ice was another participant which made me sorry I left the cash at home.  Oh, well.
One of the many bands playing while visitors chowed-down on the huge variety of food choices.  This was the Beth Willis Rock Duo and they were very "entertaining".
Another Beer Garden!! What's not to love about this festival?!
Here is one of the "menus". 
And the other one.  Portland loves its micro and craft brewed beers, but I'm sure you noticed that.

I jogged about three miles on my way to the Bite and snapped some photos along the route.  Upon entering the Bite of Oregon, I did the entire loop of delightful things to eat and drink.  The photos will give you a pretty good idea of what it's all about.  No photos of the wine garden as they always set up in a shady area and the images don't do justice to all the creative winery names and labels.  The craft beer folks and the micro breweries always do a great job of promoting their suds, with sign boards listing the available beers.  So, let's get to it!
 I had to wrap up this event here, at "808-Grinds".  It's a Hawaiian food truck serving some of the finest Island food this side of Honolulu.  The word "grinds" is pidgin for food.  Feel free to expand your cultural knowledge of our fiftieth state and visit "Wikipedia" to find out more.
Aloha, everybody!

Saturday, August 11, 2012

It's Framed and In the Gallery.

It must seem like I've taken the summer off, gallivanting about the city, photographing Portland's many summer events, but posting no paintings.  Actually, I still spend at least six hours a day, seven days a week in the studio.  In addition to working on a commissioned portrait, the mountain stream landscape was successfully juried into the Rental/Sales Gallery and has been in Mel's Frame Shop for the last two weeks.
This is the highly-talented artist and owner of "Mel's Frame Shop", Melanie Townsend.  Her shop is located in downtown Portland, at 1007 SW Morrison or visit her at  She's proudly holding my painting, "Dancing Waters".  She does beautiful frame work and her paintings are wonderful, too.  Her shop is an art gallery in addition to being a great place to find a frame.

Today, I picked it up and delivered it to the gallery.  It's the first painting I've had there since my last piece was donated to the Cascades AIDS Project fundraising auction back in April.  Now, I've got to get an image of it uploaded onto the gallery's website--if I can remember how to do that!  I haven't had any paintings there for a long time as portraits don't really rent or sell there.  Most of the work that's rented goes to offices, homes and staging homes for sale.  Hopefully, this landscape will find a rental home if not a permanent one. 
Here it is again, in it's (hopefully) temporary home, The Portland Art Museum Rental/Sales Gallery.  It's oil on canvas, 20 x 24-inches.  I changed the name of this several times, only deciding on "Dancing Waters" today.  I didn't want it to be location specific, rather I hope it will touch anyone who has ever been in the mountains and seen a free-running, ice-cold stream cascading down the rocks.

So, this weekend at Portland's Waterfront Park you can attend the biggest culinary event in the state.  It supports Special Olympics Oregon and it's called, "The Bite of Oregon".  The festival features 45-deliciously-gifted chefs, 32-top Oregon wineries, 30-Oregon craft brews and 40-bands and entertainers.  Many of Oregon's finest restaurants offer their claim-to-fame menu items and this year, a number of Portland food carts will be serving their signature dishes.  There are 22-stage demonstrations by top chefs, including an "Iron Chef Oregon" competition and Food TV star, Aaron McCargo Jr. will be featured in a special cooking demonstration.  It's only five bucks to get in, so I will definitely be there tomorrow and get some photos to share with you.

As always, I hope your weekend was a good one!

Sunday, August 5, 2012

We Finally Met.

I was beginning to think it would never happen.  Despite my best efforts to find Celeste at the Plein Air Paint Out yesterday, I failed.  And here we are, a mere nine months away from our move.  It seemed as if it just wasn't meant to be.
Here she is...the inimitable, the one-and-only, the great artist and blogger extraordinaire...Celeste Bergin!

Proof!  We really did finally meet.  This is Celeste Bergin and she approved this ad.

That all changed today--finally.  The Paint Out participants were showing their work today, in the museum courtyard.  I knew she would be there.  It would be nearly impossible to miss her today.  After the obligatory jog, I arrived at the museum at about high noon.  I wandered about the crowd, looking for her trademark pink ballcap.  Not seeing her, I found a bit of shade a couple of steps above the artists displays and all the visitors.  My eyes were burning from a combination of sweat and sunblock, so it took a while to be able to get a good look.  Suddenly, my eyes focused and there was Celeste and her hat!
Celeste beside the two paintings she completed yesterday for the Plein Air Paint Out.  The lady can paint!

This is Gretha Lindwood, a pastel artist and friend of Celeste.  Just about everyone is a friend of Celeste--she's that nice.
One of Gretha's Paint Out works in pastel.

Another of the forty invited artists who participated in the event, sponsored by the Portland Art Museum.
Eric Jacobsen showed some of his amazing paintings, too.

I was too nervous to just bolt down there and introduce myself, so I played "stalker" for a few minutes, taking a couple of photos as she chatted with friends and potential purchasers.  Finally, it seemed time to do it.  I approached her display while she was looking in another direction, sidled-up close and said, "Gee, looks like they let anybody in this show".  She turned and immediately recognized the uncouth lout who had just muttered that foul remark.
Eric Bowman's paintings were superb.

I would've given her a big bear hug hello, but I was sweat-soaked and offered my hand instead.  It's funny...though this was our first in-person meeting, it felt like I've known her a long time.  I don't know how long exactly we've been blogging buddies, but it has been a while.  We had a very pleasant chat and then, trying not to monopolize her time with potential buyers all around, I departed.  What a pleasure to finally meet her.  She's the same perfectly wonderful, exceptionally nice, talented woman we all know from her blog.  If there's a lesson here, it's to avoid being shy.  Just go meet that person you've always wanted to.  It'll be okay.  Really.
I'm sorry I don't remember which artist did this, but I think it's a beauty.  I'm going to have to try painting outside one of these days.  I truly enjoyed the work on display here today.  A lot to learn!

On my way out, I enjoyed having a look at many of the other artist's work.  Lots of fine paintings on display today.  I jogged to the studio and went to work on the commission portrait, in a very upbeat mood.  Hope your weekend was a good one, also.