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La Bussola
Want to stay here? Of course you do. A five-night stay at La Bussola Hotel on Italy’s Amalfi Coast is one of the many ‘art experiences’ up for bids at The Arts Center’s Chocolate Fantasy fundraiser. (Contributed photo)

CORVALLIS — Sara Swanberg, the executive director of The Arts Center, immerses herself in the arts each day and has done so the majority of her life.

Frankly, she’s yawning.

Don’t get me wrong: Swanberg still has a deep-seated passion for all things art, but she and The Arts Center are embracing a new concept that is gaining in popularity worldwide.

The local art house will hold its annual, mega fundraiser — Chocolate Fantasy & Art Auctions — on Feb. 26, but instead of only sending bidders home with an item, some will get an “art experience.”

It almost sounds pretentious, but it could end up being the experience of a lifetime. One of the items up for auction is a five-night stay at a waterfront resort on the Amalfi Coast in Italy.

Yes, please.

“In this economy, what we’re finding is that people seem more interested in spending money on something that will give them a new perspective rather than something for their homes,” Swanberg said. “At this point in my life, my walls are full. Sure, I can use the smaller things that I can fit here and there, but what I really look forward to is an experience — culture, historic places, seeing art in galleries in foreign places — that will take me out of my normal living experience.”

Other “art experiences” on the auction block include a week’s stay at an historic adobe home in San Miguel, Mexico, and a guided tour of the Portland Art Museum by curator Bruce Guenther. The tour is for six people and dinner at Andina’s Portland is included.

The Chocolate Fantasy event is expected to attract 500 to 600 people and will be held again in the club-level suites at Reser Stadium at Oregon State University.

Tickets ($50 per person) recently went on sale and include dinner and dessert. Live music will be performed by French pop/jazz quartet Swing Papillon. And for the many enthusiasts who still prefer to experience their art tangibly, an auction will take place for paintings, woodworks, sculptures and plenty more.

For more information, call 541-754-1551 or go to www.theartscenter.net.

Albany pool a haven for students on break

I did a double-take when looking at this week’s Friday to Friday listings of local events. Through Dec. 30, the Albany Community Pool will host kid-friendly swimming events to help fill the hours and days of winter break. I was about to call Child Protective Services for ACP’s blatant attempt to lure kids to the pool in this apocalyptic winter weather, but then I was made aware of these contraptions called indoor pools. Brilliant!

For $2 and a can of food, kids can go nuts on a rope swing, diving boards, a log-runner and play on basketball hoops from 1 to 3 p.m. every day except Dec. 25-26.

Listen, kids: Even though school is out right now, ask your parents for “lunch money.” That $2 you spend to swallow chlorine water after doing back flips will taste better than the school meatloaf, anyway.

For more information, call 541-967-4521.

Roxy Dawgs answers culinary cry for help

I promise I won’t write about hot dogs every week, but my prayer has been answered — mostly. Last week I emplored any and all local hot dog vendors to feature my favorite, the Sonoran hot dog. It’s a bacon-wrapped dog with fresh toppings galore.

Within hours of the article’s publication, Marc and Connie Barnes wrote to tell me their new Corvallis eatery, Roxy Dawgs, will embrace the Sonoran dog.

Roxy Dawgs opened Dec. 2 and specializes in locally produced fine sausages and salads. It’s located at 1425 N.W. Monroe Ave., next door to Thai Chili. Check online (www.roxydawgs.com) for current hours.

Connie, a Tucson kid like me, said they are working on their version of the Sonoran dog. Their double-smoked sausage has bacon in it, and then they will splash on the pinto beans, fresh diced tomatoes, onions, jalapeño mustard and mayonnaise.

It’s not exactly the authentic Mexico/Arizona version, but you can’t tell me it doesn’t sound good.

New TV show takes aim at Portland’s culture

I am never one to advocate spending your night parked in front of the TV, but there’s some upcoming programming of interest — or not — to Oregonians.

“Portlandia” is a new comedy series on cable’s IFC that will spoof Portland as a place for the “unambitious” counter culture, “where young people go to retire" and its citizens are encouraged to be weird.

It looks funny, however loosely based in truth it is.

The show, starring Fred Armisen of “Saturday Night Live” and Portland resident Carrie Brownstein, premieres Jan. 21.

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