take me to cask: casks for a cause at three brothers.

burgIMG_5408bwI love genius combinations.

Some of you might remember the old commercials for Reese’s Peanut Butter Cups: “Hey! You got your chocolate in my peanut butter!” “You got peanut butter on my chocolate!” And while the actual invention of the super-popular candy didn’t happen in the ’80s as the commercial suggests (nor was it nearly as sexy [hello, wah-wah pedal] — it was merely created by a guy named Reese in the 1920s who was just experimenting with candy recipes), it certainly is one of the greatest genius combinations of all time. There have been others. Like putting Velcro on children’s shoes. And the most recent pair of sneakers I purchased have memory foam in them. MEMORY FOAM! Or, for example, my son’s eggheaded idea to make a chess board out of LEGO. Even if you have to get up and move the board mid game, the pieces stay put. And Instagram would never have happened if someone hadn’t come up with the camera phone.

So recently I discovered another mind-blowing combination. As counter-intuitive as it might sound, you CAN be good to yourself and good to others simultaneously. It’s called Casks for a Cause, a monthly event at Three Brothers Brewing that benefits a local charity or initiative. The brothers design a specialty beer and donate a whole keg to the cause, and all the money from the sales of drafts from that keg go to the lucky organization.

burgIMG_5405This particular Cask for a Cause featured lots of genius combinations. First of all, the “cause” was Spitzer Art Center, and we all know that art and beer is a winning combo. The special cask of the night was Three Brothers Slide infused with honey and cayenne, a concoction that was smoooooth going down and then slapped you in the throat. And Mama’s Caboose was there serving up cayenne-chocolate brownies. THAT combo was ridickers yummy. And don’t forget the music: Jason Summer (DJ Real Gone) followed by Jeff Gorman is a combination I hope to hear again in the near future.

burg3bros4 burgIMG_5418Spitzer Art Center provides workshops and classes to the general public, such as oil and pastel painting, silk painting, and metal making. The center hosts a variety of art shows and speakers and provides studio space for seven local artists. This Friday, January 16, Spitzer Art Center will honor Barb Gautcher, featuring works by her and by many of her former students, including Todd Yoder, Molly Whitmore of Molly Whitmore Photography, Zachary Nafziger of ZN Stained Glass, Steven Stauffer, Bomb Proof, Ashley Miller of Ashley Sauder Miller Art, Elizabeth Frey Davis , and Kimberly Juda Souder. Barb is the recent winner of the Shenandoah Valley High School Art Teacher of the Year award AND the High School Art Teacher of Virginia Award. And on February 6, you can see ANOTHER genius combination called WORD: A Juried Show Uniting Writing and Visual Art, in which artists “write an original poem or short prose piece in any style, about any subject, and then use any medium to display/frame/decorate the words and/or the space around them.”

With the sale of the cask, the Spitzer membership drive, brownie sales, and generous donations, Spitzer far exceeded their fundraising goal. Three Brothers have supported numerous organizations in this way, like the Wounded Warrior Project, RISE, and Big Brothers Big Sisters. If your desire to be charitable and your desire to drink a beer happens on the third Friday of the month, save yourself one trip and just go to Casks for a Cause at Three Brothers.

burgIMG_5406Three Brothers Brewing is located at 800 North Main Street, just north of and across the street from The Little Grill. Spitzer Art Center is located at 486 West Market Street, a couple blocks west of Court Square.

Copyright © 2012-15 · All Rights Reserved · ilovemyburg.com. Written content by Katie Mitchell. Photos by Brandy Somers. This material may not be copied, downloaded, reproduced, or printed without express written consent. Thank you for respecting our intellectual property.

brandy awesomers: larkin arts youth summer art program.

dry erase board in classroomMy friend is so talented. So talented!!

Brandy Somers works all year as a high school art teacher, photographs their creations, this beautiful city, and adventures with her loved ones and publishes it all on FOUR blogs (or five??), heads up a massive portrait show each year, participates in several art exhibits throughout the year, volunteers, raises children… I aspire to be like her in so many ways. She somehow seamlessly weaves all this into her life — a life full of color and texture, people and love, laughter and light. And last week I was able to see her talent in action as she taught a class at Larkin Arts… about something she does beautifully: weaving.

kids weaving basketsValerie Smith has been heading up this summer art program for years, only now she gets to host it at her own shop. She put out a call to local artists who’d like to teach a week-long class, assembled a fine group of those people, and sort of let them decide what it was they would teach. Then Valerie worked with the artist/teachers to determine appropriate age groups and ordered the necessary supplies. The twenty-six classes run through August 16 and serve kids age six to fourteen.

My kids and I arrived toward the end of her class entitled “Basket Full O’ Fun” — a week-long seminar dedicated to basket weaving, but which turned into much more.

To start each three-hour session, Brandy had students complete a quick sketch (in their self-made sketch books) centered around a particular topic, like “what was your worst injury?”, “draw your scariest moment” and “your biggest accomplishment”, and “what super power would you most like to have?” Answers, in the form of sketches, ranged from stubbed toes to falls from fences and split chins, from scary moms in masks to creepy cardboard cut-outs of Dale Earnhardt, and from super sniffing and shape-shifting to shooting something you want straight out of your hand (in Ella’s case, a bagel and drink). Pretty much everyone agreed that the pouch baskets were their most recent major accomplishment.

kids drawings on wallAfter the sketches, Brandy began the lesson. The week started with making a type of basket called a bean pot. The apt students caught on quickly in weaving these large, sturdy baskets, and in no time, had some gorgeous finished products.girl weaving basket

kids weaving baskets boy holding basket kids holding basketsThe pouch baskets (like a little purse) turned out equally beautiful but were harder to make and required patience and teamwork. Still, the determined students (and teacher) pressed on and completed the job on day three. !!!

group weaving pouch baskets hands making pouch baskets hands making pouch basketsNever fear. This isn’t Brandy’s first rodeo, and although the kids had completed her week-long class in a mere three days, she had more tricks up her sleeve. In fact, she needed sleeves… to make tee shirt rugs using hula hoops as looms. This is where Ella’s super power would have really come in handy. It takes A LOT of tee shirts to make enough strips for five kids to each weave a rug, so what super heroes came to the rescue? Denise and Sean Allen, that’s who. They showed up with a gigantic donation of old tee shirts. Let the shredding begin!

class weaving hula hoop rugskids hula hoopingA well-deserved and much-needed break.

And that awlsome project lasted clear through Friday’s class, when I was there visiting. One student was determined to finish her rug as a father’s day gift. Another’s strips kept getting tangled up. This student’s rug was finished and needed to be tied off, while that student still needed more strips of red fabric. Brandy moved with ease around the room, as she always does, helping everyone, as she always does… never losing patience, always speaking kindly, laughing and enjoying the moment, weaving color and texture and light into their lives, at least for one week.

girl weaving hula hoop rug girl weaving hula hoop rug boy weaving hula hoop ruggirl with hula hoop loom hula hoop rugsBrandy and I have taught at the same school for years, but it’s not often that we see each other during class. It was a real treat to see her in this element, and I mean that sincerely. Any person — young or old — would be lucky to receive her instruction, or her friendship.

There are still weeks and weeks of classes available to your kid this summer. Many of them still have space available, so now’s a good time to get signed up. They’ll be taught by professionals who love their craft and aren’t afraid to show it… just like Brandy.

kids holding final productsCopyright © 2012-13 · All Rights Reserved · ilovemyburg.com. Written content by Katie Mitchell. Photos by Brandy Somers. This material may not be copied, downloaded, reproduced, or printed without express written consent. Thank you for respecting our intellectual property.

major artery: larkin arts.

larkin arts ellaRemember when Studio Art Shop was downtown? This was way back when Dave’s Taverna was on Water Street and Main, and Jokers (now the Blue Nile) was the hot spot for local music. Studio Art Shop was located where Oasis Gallery is now… I remember that art store fondly… the smell of paint and canvas, rows of colorful bottles, rainbows of oil pastels, stacks of naked sketch books, jars of never-used brushes with smooth wooden handles, neat paper bags of rabbit skin glue, Gesso, tubs of Gojo. Simply walking in there would inspire even the least artistic of us (like me) to create.

Needing more space, Studio Art Shop expanded to a larger store on Neff Avenue and became the place for art students to purchase supplies each semester. Lamentably, Studio Art Shop closed its doors for good a few years ago.

No doubt Valerie Smith remembers Studio Art Shop, too, and thanks to her, her hubby Scott, Lynda Bostrom, and many other local art supporters, Harrisonburg once again has a full-service art supply store on the Court Square… an apt location in the heart of a city that loves and values art of all kinds.

larkin arts val and scottBut Larkin Arts is not just a source of supplies; it’s also a gallery, a school, and a studio–a place for learning, creating, and displaying art. The store itself carries thousands of products for the new, developing, or veteran artist, and a cozy lounge area where one can sit and sketch or peruse hundreds of art books from their library, all the while listening to albums on the old-school stereo system, from Loggins and Messina to Talking Heads to Fugazi, the Beatles, or even “Latin for Lovers.” :) And, even if you’re not an “artist,” many of their items make lovely, unique gifts for people of all ages and for any occasion, really.

larkin arts1In the space adjacent to the store is the gallery and reception area. Two large, open, bright spaces regularly feature curated, juried, or group exhibitions.

larkin arts denise larkin arts food larkin arts reception2Down the hall to the right are three (three!) classrooms hosting a variety of classes. Every Monday from 6:30 to 8:30pm the public is welcome to attend live figure drawing. Children ages 4 – 12 can attend classes in drawing, painting, sculpture, ceramics, weaving, and art history. What a great way to spend dark, chilly afternoons, and when the weather is warm and school’s out, kids can attend week-long art classes — even one taught by our own Brandy Somers! — during the 2013 Youth Summer Art Program.

The left side of the hallway houses local artists’ studios. Large, bright, open rooms with closets and plenty of space to haul out your supplies and make a big ole mess.

In the last couple of months, Brandy and I have visited Larkin Arts a number of times. Back in December, we did some Christmas shopping there. More recently, we’ve gone to visit the gallery. Nathan Shearer’s simply framed photographs of LEGOs blew me away. One, I love LEGOs — I even have a LEGO room in my house. Two, the scenes he depicts in the photos are both realistic and imaginative. Three, his attention to detail, posing little LEGO figures in front of less playful backgrounds, getting the scale just right so that the photo is as believable as a portrait. And four, the colors! I wish I could have bought every one of them and hung them all together on a single wall in my house. You couldn’t be unhappy in that space. To see more of Nathan’s photos, please check out Katie Schmidt’s photos, here.

larkin arts nathan s nathan shearer bwThe other exhibit we attended was that of Jade Webber, an artist currently studying at JMU after completing a degree in Fine Art at New Mexico State University. Her large, heavily textured paintings depict the natural world, which is, as she describes it, a blend of “the metaphysical, the supernatural, and the ineffable.” Her work particularly reflects a love of animals, who “remind us that we, too, are animals. We are subject to forces beyond our control.” In this way she underscores how natural art is to the human experience: it springs organically from the artist herself; tools of wood and hair and metal push around hues of the outside world we see every day, resulting in a connection between artist and viewer that is not forced, but… ineffably genuine. You can see Jade’s work at Larkin Arts through the end of February.

jade webber notes jade webber 7 jade webber 5 jade webber 1The kids were with us, of course, and what would an ilovemyburg post be without the antics of children? Let’s see. Bree dropped her cupcake on the floor, icing side down (major tragedy). A couple of the Judy Chops were there to perform (because, let’s face it — all of ’em would have caused a sonic boom-ish catastrophe knocking the artwork right off the walls), and so lots of giggly, dizzying dancing ensued. Scott whipped out some brown Model Magic for the kids to “play with.”

larkin arts cupcake larkin arts blake ella judy chops 3 larkin arts brownAnd Cal left a note on Brandy’s car that said, “Your butt looks really good.” She laughed and acted like it was silly, but I bet she taped that thing to her bathroom mirror. Ha ha!! After she previewed this post, she clarified that it is NOT on her bathroom mirror. It’s on her fridge. :)

Congratulations to Valerie and Scott for opening this Harrisonburg gem. We hope you will visit soon and see why it’s so, so special. It’s yet another reason we love our burg.

Copyright © 2012-13 · All Rights Reserved · ilovemyburg.com. Written content by Katie Mitchell. Photos by Brandy Somers. This material may not be copied, downloaded, reproduced, or printed without express written consent. Thank you for respecting our intellectual property.