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Cork and canvas


A new business combines classic paintings, art instruction and wine to create an evening of culture, learning and fun.

Greg Horton February 15th, 2011

Most of us grow up with art of one sort or another. Rare is the refrigerator not graced with the crayon scrawls of a fearsome crimson or sky-blue beast that is actually just the family cat or dog. Scraps of bad poetry are stuffed under beds and in drawers, and doodles in spiral notebooks get tossed with the biology notes.

At some point, we forget how much we enjoyed art, even the nascent scribbles of would-be artists who exchange their creativity for organized sports, homework, video games and television. We put down the crayons, brushes and pens, and pick up other “more important” things.

Marie Ensign and Aaron Hasley intend to help Oklahomans reconnect with their love of art, and it helps that they include wine in their plan. Their company is called “Wine and Canvas,” a name they share with their friends who run the Indianapolis group.

“We like the idea of ‘Wine and Canvas,’ because wine and painting are both associated with relaxation,” Ensign said.

Relaxation is easier when everything is supplied: paints, brushes, easel, canvas, apron and instruction. The evening is truly stress free.

Each event features an Oklahoma artist and a classic painting. A recent event at Abuelo’s, 17 E. Sheridan, was planned around Van Gogh’s “Starry Night.”

Marlina Lieberman, the local artist who used “Starry Night,” said “Wine and Canvas” chooses paintings that require instruction in 12 steps or less, which seems ironically funny.

“We pick a painting that isn’t difficult to recreate,” Lieberman said. “We like the idea that each person can take home a piece of art that they can hang on their wall.”

Currently, “Wine and Canvas” is working at Abuelo’s for the Mondaynight events and Put a Cork in It, 115 E. California, for Tuesday night events. Beginning in March, events will also be held Saturday at In the Raw, 200 S. Oklahoma.

Hasley said they chose to start at Abuelo’s because of the Bricktown location and the visibility provided by the private room right on Sheridan.

“We wanted people to see the class,” he said. “We’re looking to add locations, but that requires visiting venues and checking out lighting, space and other considerations.”

Ensign said they choose venues with a good bar menu or with wine on the premises, like Put a Cork In It’s Oklahoma-made wines.

“It’s not just for wine lovers, though,” Ensign said. “Put a Cork in It is right below Hooters, so some of the guys go upstairs and order a beer.”

At Abuelo’s, the class was enjoying pitchers of margaritas and sangría. The most extensive wine list of the venues is at In the Raw, which features about 25 wines by the glass.

The list of whites includes the always-high quality King Estate Pinot Gris, Lagaria Pinot Grigio, a surprisingly good value wine from Italy, and Honig Sauvignon Blanc, a metro favorite for many years.

The red list includes a relatively unknown wine in Oklahoma City, Graffigna Malbec from Argentina. It’s a lighter style Malbec with soft tannins and straightforward fruit. In retail stores, the bottle price is less than $15, making it a value.

All glasses are available by the bottle, and the bottle list includes some higher-end wines. Worth noting are the Martin Ray Pinot Noir, a solid Napa Valley Pinot, and St. Supery Cabernet, a consistent and underrated Napa Valley Cabernet.

We like the idea, because wine and painting are both associated with relaxation.

—Marie Ensign

Ensign said they are looking at venues both north and south of Bricktown, and all the venues under consideration have full bars and food.

“The evening isn’t just about wine, though,” she said. “We want people to drink responsibly; we’re not encouraging drunk painting.”

Hasley said the ultimate goal is to have their own storefront location, but to keep having events in local restaurants as well. They also intend to keep adding Oklahoma artists as instructors.

Information about “Wine and Canvas,” including upcoming shows and pictures of the featured paintings, is available at wineandcanvas.com.

 
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