Local art studio offers a combination of painting and wine
When people walk into Wine and Design in downtown Ithaca during a class, studio owner Kylene Kiah wants them to see class attendees having fun. The whole idea behind Wine and Design is to offer a new form of entertainment to the Ithaca community that allows people to relax, spend time with friends and simply have fun. Wine and Design is an art studio that combines wine (if you are of age), food and painting in a two-hour class that as Kiah said is for an “average Joe.” No artistic experience or talent is necessary for someone to attend a class and walk away with a unique piece of art.
Wine and Design in Ithaca is Kiah’s second franchise location, which opened Feb. 15. She decided that she no longer wanted to be doing deskwork, and opened her first studio in Corning, N.Y. in 2012.
“What am I going to do artistically, where I can kinda touch everyone… in a weird way?” Kiah said.
When she opened her first studio, she said she “had no doubts” about the business. After her success in Corning, Kiah decided to open a location in Ithaca because of the culture, the population and the type of people Ithaca draws to it. She said the studio offers an alternative form of entertainment, instead of just dinner and drinks, and has the potential to help other local businesses.
“What I did learn in Corning is we help out businesses a lot as well because people come here and they go to eat after or they go to eat first and then come here,” Kiah said. “So nobody ever comes here and doesn’t eat or drink, even if it’s just a soda or a slice of pizza.”
The standard class that is offered at Wine and Design is a two-hour class from 6 to 8 p.m. most nights of the week. The studio also offers other specialized programs including kids classes; Art Buzz Kids, which are kids camps; date night, which is when two people work on one painting; paint your pet; on wheels events, where the studio and equipment is brought to an alternate location; birthday parties; private parties of 10 or more people; and fundraisers.
Located on South Cayuga Street, the studio is brightly lit with walls that are covered in canvas paintings. Subjects of the paintings range from flowers, fruit and beaches to abstract trees, mountains and owls. There is a double easel set up at the front of the room that showcases the completed painting the class is working on for a typical nightly class. The second canvas is the painting in progress that the instructor is working on to teach the class. Three long tables with stools and easels are set up in the studio for the attendees to work at.
When class attendees sit down to begin their paintings, they are not looking at a blank canvas. They start with a pencil sketch of the painting to guide them. They are also given brushes in a purple Mason jar filled with water and a paper plate with the paint they will need. Attendees are also provided with black aprons to wear throughout the duration of the class. While attendees are painting they can have their glasses of wine right alongside them, but food is kept out of the way on a wine bottle cork table.
Owen Mann is one of the instructors at Wine and Design. He is a local artist, and Kiah brought him into the Wine and Design team after she saw some of his work on Facebook. He said he is learning as he teaches more classes, but he said he enjoys “the feedback and the interaction with the people and the wine.”
On March 18, Mann taught a class of eight women, who painted a winter lake scene. From the beginning of the class until they walked out the door the women were laughing and joking. There was constant interaction between Mann and the women as he was giving them pointers and they were asking him questions. Kiah said typically as people progress through the class they come in talking about being stressed, at the halfway point they are talking about how difficult the painting is, but by the end people walk away proud of what they accomplished.
One of the class attendees, Deb Shigley, heard about Wine and Design from her niece who visited the studio earlier in month. Shigley decided to attend one of the classes to celebrate her mother’s birthday. When the class was over she said her experience was “great fun,” exactly what Kiah hoped all of her attendees think about their experiences.
Taylor Barker is sophomore journalism major who has found her new favorite form of entertainment. Email her at firstname.lastname@example.org.