What do you get when you combine beer, wine and a blank canvas? A mess? Perhaps. But if you ask the creative minds at Studio Cellar, the answer would be simply, a good time.
Located in a corner loft space on Lady Street in a beautifully preserved historic building that dates to circa 1916, this local painting studio combines socializing and happy hour with art that requires little to no artistic skill. According to manager Anne Frazier, owner Charlotte Gaskins took the best parts of what she’d seen at other “paint and pour” studios around the country and created her own version.
“That’s why we serve alcohol, which a lot of places don’t,” said Frazier. “And we have the freestyle (painting) option rather than just the class. It’s something different. People can take a few classes, get comfortable with painting and then figure out how to break down an image that they’re looking at themselves.”
The painting classes are about two hours long, which is ample time to try out their beer and wine selection. Studio Cellar carries a revolving door of craft beers – complete with complimentary coozies – that change so frequently that it doesn’t bother with a menu. It also offers a top-shelf wine selection, with Alamos malbec leading sales. But the real crowd-pleaser seems to be its house wine, Canyon Road.
“People have come to us just to buy a bottle,” said Frazier, who points out that you can not buy Canyon Road at retail locations. “We don’t have any plans to change that up. It seems to be working really well.”
One could argue that a glass of wine or a well-crafted beer will help with the creation process.
“It gives (customers) a confidence,” said Frazier. “I don’t know whether it’s the alcohol or it’s just the idea that they’re drinking so they feel more relaxed, but it definitely helps when people have a drink. And then sometimes they finish the bottle and don’t care anymore. So they’re like, ‘Whatever happens happens; I’m having fun.’ ”
Frazier admits that there have been a couple of people who drank more than they painted, but those are few.
“We don’t have hard liquor. People aren’t doing shots and dancing on the tables,” laughed Frazier. “But the wine and beer makes for a more relaxed environment.”
The staff can also tell when guys have been roped into doing the class under the guise that they can drink. But by the end, it’s less about the drinking and more about the painting.
“When guys come in with their girlfriends they’re like, ‘I’m here for the booze,’ but halfway through (the session) they’re telling her, ‘My painting’s better than yours,’ ” said Frazier.
But again, it’s not so much about the painting as it is how much you get to enjoy a glass of wine while doing so. Paint and pour away!
Dwaun Sellers, firstname.lastname@example.org