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Celebrating People, Places & the Good Life in SW Washington State
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Posts from — August 2010

Opening Night at the 13th Annual Vancouver Wine & Jazz Festival

The Vancouver Wine & Jazz Festival provides my favorite weekend at home every summer. Artistic Director Michael Kissinger is brilliant at organizing this huge event, which is a fundraiser for Bravo! Vancouver. Thirteen may be an unlucky number for some but not for the festival, which has given us 13 weekends of jazz, wine and art. Friday night was a most auspicious opening.

Norman Sylvester Blues Band opened the Festival, along with Janice Scroggins. It was a great opening. No one can sing about a “honey do list” like Norman.

Norman Sylvester sings the blues

Robert Moore and the Wildcats followed with a more eclectic mix of jazz.

Robert Moore and the Wildcats

Artists are hard workers at the festival, setting up for three straight days and sharing their art until the end of each evening. Some of the local artists including Paperwings Studio from downtown Vancouver, Fletcher Gober Pottery of Chehalis and Gourd Designs of Vancouver.

Bruce Allison of Vancouver's Paperwings Studio

Fletcher Gober Pottery of Chehalis

Intricately carved gourds by Garry Carr

Intricate artwork of Garry Carr's gourds

Wine, of course, is a big draw. I still remember the year we tried to taste every single Pinot Gris in the park. Not our best idea! This year we focused on a new winery, Mt. St. Helens Cellars of Silver Lake. We loved the Syrah and Riesling and look forward to visiting their tasting room, which has a great location next to camping and kayaking venues.

The owners of Mt St Helens Cellars, with Festival volunteers

The day’s top attraction, Mavis Staples, owned the evening. I can still hear her singing The Staples Singers hit, “I’ll Take You There.” She started singing with her family group in 1950 and, at 71, looks and sounds great.

The venerable Mavis Staples

Back up singers for Mavis Staples

Blues, gospel, soul, freedom songs - Mavis does it all

The Festival continues through Sunday night, August 29. It’s a fine way to celebrate music, wine, art and community. Thank you, Michael Kissinger!

August 28, 2010   No Comments

Eat. Explore. Love.

One year ago this week, I launched ZEST. I was missing the creative aspects of writing, I was angry that our part of the Pacific Northwest was often overlooked and I love to travel. Mix that all together and ZEST was born.

What a wild year it has been! Although a friend told me that he thought I was “ruining my social life” by limiting our weekends to local research for the blog, I vehemently say “NOT SO!” I have met so many interesting people, visited fascinating places and learned much about our rich history. I have eaten probably too many NW foods, consumed plenty of local wine and just about ravaged my camera while shooting everything from clams to mountaintops.

No, I did not run out of places to explore and people to meet. Quite the contrary, my “bucket list” got longer. Considering our people and places, and the fact that ZEST covers an area the size of New Jersey, that shouldn’t be a surprise.

I ate. I explored. I loved it. This is the 48th post. So what did I learn? Here are a few lessons:

1. People love to be photographed with their pets. Even the shyest person is happy to be in a pet photo. The booksellers of Long Beach Peninsula, and their pets, were especially photogenic.

Karla and Harper Lee of Time Enough Books in Ilwaco

2. A contest will bring out the best in people. 35 people entered the Happiest Place in Southwest Washington contest. Our judges had a fine time choosing the winners. Actually, all entries (okay, all but one entry which was a little, shall we say, personal) were places well worth visiting and blogging about in the future. Thank you, entrants!

Happiest Place Winner - Long Beach - Photo by Spence Photo Design

3. Head for the woods on Christmas Day. We saw very few people when we snowshoed to June Lake, at the base of Mount St. Helens. Just be sure to put the snow park permit on your dashboard, not in your pocket or you, too, will be begging the ladies at the Skamania County Courthouse to reduce your fine!

A Perfect Christmas Day near Mount St Helens

4. Blogging is a family affair. It’s great fun to share the experiences with a spouse. And it’s helpful to have one who willingly accepts all the pesky hotel and restaurant bills and allows his food to get cold while I photograph it. Thanks, Gary!

A good blog partner is explore

And is get cold

And eat...a lot

5. Travel should be more than gift shops and tourist attractions. One of my favorite interviews happened at 10 p.m. on a rainy Saturday night in Camas in a tattoo parlour. They stay open late for a reason. I learned a lot. And, no, I didn’t get a tattoo.

A few of thousands of tattoo choices at Painless Ric's

6. Razor clams are WAY fun! One of my favorite experiences in the last year was learning how to dig and cook razor clams. Special thanks to the stranger in Jack’s Store who told me how to prepare them!

Long Beach Peninsula Clams and a Clark County Riesling

7. A mundane action like getting your piano tuned can be much more than you think. The School of Piano Technology for the Blind tuned our piano. This led me to a special tour of the school and conversations with the students, who came to Vancouver to learn a new vocation. My piano is in tune and I have a new-found appreciation for the school and their piano tuners.

Getting the piano tuned

8. Involve other writers. Special thanks to Julia Anderson, Sarah Coomber and Shawna Burkholder for writing for ZEST. It is so nice to have others sharing their experiences with our readers. I hope to add more guest bloggers in ZEST’s second year.

Looking for trolls with Sarah Coomber and friends at Ridgefield Wildlife Refuge

9. I have the best neighbors in the world. None complained about being photographed for ZEST at social events on the block including a cookie exchange and root beer float social.

Some of our great neighbors

10. It’s nice to get recognition. Blogging can be a little lonely. But comments and occasional accolades make up for the forced solitude. ZEST has been featured on two panels of bloggers and was honored in a Bloggers We Love column of New York’s Web site. That was very exciting!

There is so much more to write about in SW Washington! I have a very long list of future blog posts to research, photograph and write. I wish I had more time to devote to blogging but plan to keep the writing flowing as much as possible.

In the past year, I ate. I explored. And I continued to love Southwest Washington. Here’s to another year of blogging. Thanks for reading! Katlin

August 24, 2010   2 Comments

The 10 Minute Conversation: Filmmaker Breven Angaelica Warren

Breven Angaelica Warren is the founder and producer of the Columbia Gorge International Film Festival. Formerly known as the Washougal Film Festival, the newly-named event will move to the downtown Vancouver Hilton and Convention Center this month. It will open on Wednesday, August 18 and close on Sunday night, August 22.

Breven Angaelica Warren, Producer, Columbia Gorge International Film Festival

The opening night starts with a reception followed by a screening of Earthwork, directed by Chris Ordal. In addition a film designed to be projected onto ice will be shown – on ice, with music.

Films will be shown throughout the day and evening on Thursday, Friday and during the day on Saturday – in four different theaters at the Convention Center. An awards ceremony will be held on Saturday night and prize-winning films will be re-screened on Sunday.

A filmmaker and producer who also works at other festivals like Sundance, Breven has scheduled more than 300 films, ranging in length from 1 minute to 2.5 hours. Numerous filmmakers are coming to Vancouver for the event. Admission to view the films is free! Trailers for some of the films are available at Trailer Addict . The complete film list is posted here.

What brought you to SW Washington?

My mother graduated from Washougal and my dad graduated from Camas so I was made here. They had me in Florida and I grew up in Florida and Jamaica. My family moved back here quite a few years ago and I came here to help them with what they were doing and I am a filmmaker so I brought my film projects with me.

I was living in Washougal and the community was so amazingly supportive of my filmmaking. A lot of times I would get the question, “Where can we see your films?” Unless you were on the film festival circuit I don’t know where you would see them. So I had the idea of starting a festival to share with the community what they were helping me make and to bring independent film to the community.

That is how I started the festival in 2008, largely to give back to the community as well as to offer another opportunity to filmmakers because the film circuit is very tricky to get into and it took me a long time to get my films on the festival circuit. In 2008 we screened over 300 films. Part of my mission is to have it free to everyone. It’s a terrible business model but I want to stick to that.

In 2009 we grew a little and had more films and more filmmakers come. We are in our third year and the Convention Center was available and we could have everything under one roof. So many filmmakers come in from out of town as well as out of country and we can offer them all the amenities.

What is the best kept secret about SW Washington?

Is it a secret that we have the most amazing nature opportunities here? I’m obsessed with the gardening here.

If you didn’t live here, where would you live?

Somewhere where I can create. I am more interested in my community, the people around me, than the location.

What’s coming up that you are excited about?

Absolutely the Film Festival and getting to share so many amazing films with so many people. And especially the quality of filmmaking. We have amazing films from all over the world. We represent about 40 countries and really breathtaking storytelling, creative art films, great narratives and wonderful documentaries.

What would surprise people to know about you?

I started working in the industry as a child. Got my SAG card at age nine. Also, I make installations. I construct things. I like to make large pieces of art. I love glue and tape.

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August 10, 2010   5 Comments