Falling leaves, the chill in the air, the sound of freshly restudded tires on the road -- all cheer our hearts with the thought that ski season will soon be here.
Our thoughts turn to Girdwood, where the nonprofit Girdwood Center for Visual Arts is planning several fundraising efforts this year. They will start off with a "Paint and Port" party at 7 p.m. Friday. Since the slopes of Alyeska aren't quite ready for skiing (Thanksgiving is closer to the usual opening date), the event will take place at 3150 C St. in Midtown Anchorage.
Festivities will start with a wine tasting class hosted by the Anchorage Wine House. Then -- for those who can still hold a brush -- artist Gina Edwards, a regular exhibitor at the Girdwood center, will teach a class on acrylic techniques.
Edwards says the painting titled "Red Sentry" and shown here is what participants can expect to complete by the end of the evening.
"This class requires no drawing," she says. "The tree, grass, trunk and sun are created by tearing out templates from heavy paper. For those with more painting experience I include some acrylic techniques, patterning, layering, etc."
The cost, including wine, class and supplies, is $50. Tickets can be ordered by calling 783-3209.
Silk Road summer
Anchorage pianists Timothy and Rumi Smith spent 3 1/2 weeks in China from late July through parts of August giving several performances and master classes in Lanzhou, the gateway city to the historic Silk Road, and several other towns. At one point Timothy Smith shared a recital with Van Cliburn prize winner Sa Chen, with whom he has previously performed.
He noted that many people have identified the hall in Guangzhou, part of his itinerary, as "the best concert hall in China; I think they are probably correct."
"There is an amazing obsession with classical piano, especially among the young generation," in China, he said.
At the International Summer Piano Camp, held at the Chongqing School of the Arts, 7- to 12-year-old girls "were particularly taken with Rumi's presence onstage. They were patiently waiting the next morning when Rumi arrived to teach, creating a frenzied scene as 30-40 students surged towards her for her autograph, nearly knocking her over."
In Suzhou, a newly created technical and industrial zone, his master class featured a brilliant LED screen across the back of the stage embellished by a backward treble clef -- a not uncommon symbol for "music" there, apparently. One sometimes sees it in a "crab" canon, indicating that the music is supposed to be played forward and backward at once, but perhaps it was just a 3-D projection thing.
Among the non-musical impressions was his encounter with "a very tasty dish that was apparently a favorite of Chairman Mao." In fact it's called Chairman Mao's Pork. Smith's critique: "Wow, delicious!!"
Mark Wolbers, Timothy Smith's colleague on the University of Alaska Anchorage music faculty, will present a most unusual solo recital at 4 p.m. today in the Fine Arts Building Recital Hall.
"And when we say solo, we mean solo," reads the press release. No piano or guitar or accompanying instruments, just pieces for the clarinet.
The recital will be presented in a slightly informal format, similar to the lunchtime concerts that Wolbers performs in Homer each August as part of the Kenai Peninsula Orchestra Music Festival.
Tickets are $18 and $15 for seniors, students, and military, and are available from centertix.net or the box office in the UAA Fine Arts Building (786-4849).
Painters for social services
The Alaska Plein Air Painters will present a benefit for Lutheran Social Services of Alaska at Anchorage Lutheran Church, 15th Avenue and N Street, starting at 5 p.m. Friday.
The "last Friday" art happening will include original paintings, watercolors and reproductions by talent that includes Betty Atkinson, Bob Hansen, Don Kolstad, Romie Deschamps, Pat Munz, Marianne Wieland, Kurt Jacobson and many others. There will be a reception with the artists and hors d'oeuvres, so stop by for a look.
Mammoths to migrate
The Field Museum's traveling exhibit "Mammoths and Mastodons: Titans of the Ice Age," which has been visiting the Anchorage Museum this summer, will leave on Oct. 9.
The exhibition features life-size replicas of ice age creatures, as well as skeletons and hands-on activities. Several fossils on display were discovered in Alaska, including tusks from some of the last mammoths on Earth, economy-sized pachyderms said to have wandered around the shores of St. Paul Island.
Tickets are $24 adult, $21 senior/student/military, $17 ages 3 to 12 and free ages 2 and younger. Prices include museum general admission. Tickets can be purchased at the front counter of the museum, 625 C St., or online at www.anchoragemuseum.org.
Reach Mike Dunham at email@example.com or 257-4332.