I went to a fun event last week to celebrate fellow Mononan Mary Zins’ birthday: “Vino and Van Gogh” at the Madison Club.
“If you can drink, you can paint” is the motto of this business, which provides all the art supplies you need – canvas, easel, brushes, paint and an apron – and someone to teach you how to paint.
Like most of the women in the room, I fell into the category of “Haven’t Painted Anything But Walls Since Seventh Grade.” And yet, three hours later, I had created a painting of a vase of flowers that vaguely resembled lilacs.
And I had so much fun doing it, I barely finished my allotted two glasses of wine. (That will shock people who know me.)
Even my friend Arlene had fun, although she spent the first hour whining about how she couldn’t paint, had no artistic ability, and probably shouldn’t have come.
But once Arlene looked around and saw that everybody else’s painting were as bad as hers, she lightened up considerably. (The wine helped.)
On our way in, I glanced around the see if there was anyone I knew outside of our immediate group. I saw Deb Offerdahl, owner of The Ultimate Spa Salon, and a swim mom I know who’s from Maple Bluff.
And I saw Barb Slack, owner of Slack Attack Communications, an all-around public relations agency located on Monona Drive. Slack Attack publishes a variety of publications, and coordinates the annual “Holiday Fantasy in Lights” at Olin Park (which gets better and better every year.)
To my surprise, it turned out Barb was working the event, helping out her daughter Kelly, who runs “Vino and Van Gogh.”
Kelly is a 1990 graduate of Monona Grove High School, who went on to earn a degree in sports management at the University of Minnesota before returning home to work in her mother’s agency.
She got the idea for “Vino and Van Gogh” a little more than a year ago.
“A friend of mine lives in Phoenix and she was painting and drinking at an art studio,” Kelley explained. “I told my Wisconsin friends about it and they all said ‘I want to do that!’”
“You need to know,” she added, “that I am not an artist and have no skill whatsoever.”
“Vino and Van Gogh,” she said, “enables someone like me to go out for an evening and come home with a painting. It’s really fun, and I’m all about fun.”
There were about 60 people at the open-to-the-public Madison Club event, and all were women. But Slack said they’ve had men at several parties.
“We hosted a corporate event in Lake Geneva which was mostly men, and they maybe had more fun than women usually do. They were telling naughty painting jokes and laughing the whole time – and they painted really well, too.”
Most “Vino and Van Gogh” events are smaller, private events and they’re often held in the basement of Angelo’s Restaurant on Monona Drive (home of the world’s best white pizza, by the way), which only accommodates about 10 people.
The price is $50 a person, which includes art supplies and instruction only. Either the hostess provides refreshments or guests can buy their own from the bar upstairs.
“We did one event at the Mexican restaurant El Pastor, where they served margaritas,” she said.
Personally, I could see a “Monet and Martinis” event as having great possibilities.
(At the Madison Club, the price was $74 each, for the aforementioned two glasses of wine and a rather mundane selection of veggies, cheese and sausage.)
Kelly said they can also take “Vino and Van Gogh” on the road, if you want to do it in your own home.
One of Arlene’s comments was: “None of us are gonna turn out to be Grandma Moses,” which prompted me to look up Grandma Moses.
And to Arlene, I must say: We’ve still got plenty of time.
Grandma Moses, whose name was Anna Marie Robinson Moses, was an American folk artist who didn’t pick up a brush until she turned 76. She painted her first picture as a Christmas gift for the mailman because, she said, painting was easier than baking a cake.
She cranked out more than 1,900 paintings between 1936, when she started, and 1961, when she died at age 101. Many were given away, others she charged $2-$5 for. Today, many are worth thousands of dollars; a 1943 painting titled “Sugaring Off” sold in 2006 for $1.2 million.
Fun facts to know and tell: The character of Granny Clampett on “The Beverly Hillbillies” (one of the finest TV shows ever, in my humble opinion) was based on Grandma Moses. Granny’s “real” name was Daisy Moses.
Moses’ painting titled “Fourth of July” hangs in the White House, and was featured on a 1969 postage stamp.
Her second solo exhibit, in 1940 at Gimbel’s Department Store in New York City, not only featured her paintings, but her home-baked cakes, rolls, bread and preserves as well.
Norman Rockwell was a friend of hers, and she is pictured in his 1948 Life magazine cover titled “Christmas Homecoming.”
Got something Sunny Schubert should know? Call her at 222-1604 or e-mail firstname.lastname@example.org.