Cheers to art
By Jane Donahue For the Sun July 21, 2012 10:50PM
It was a different type of date night for Plainfield couple Jen and Mark Schoenberg when they took part in a Vino van Gogh event. Jane Donahue/For Sun-Times Media/Naperville Sun 20120716 Monday,Naperville
On the web
To learn more about Vino van Gogh events in the area, visit www.vinogogh.com/chicag/. Events are scheduled in July in Naperville, Geneva, St. Charles, Elgin, Barrington, Batavia and Wheaton, among others.
Updated: August 23, 2012 10:37AM
Paint, drink and be merry. That was the mantra Monday at Aurelio’s Pizza Springbrook Square in Naperville when a group of 40 aspiring painters gathered for Vino van Gogh, a hands-on art experience that is making its way through the western suburbs.
“In today’s world, we’re so stretched, and there are so many demands to be productive and efficient,” said Brenda Schmidt, founder and owner of Vino van Gogh. “Sitting down for a few hours with friends and a paint brush, it’s almost therapeutic. There is no rush; there is no right (way). Everyone does their own work of art. We’re there to help, but it’s really about every individual person.”
Founded in May 2011, Vino van Gogh’s concept is simple. Provide aspiring artists — and those who are not so artistic — with a paintbrush, canvas and an encouraging instructor. Add refreshments and let the fun begin. It’s a mobile party that offers friends and strangers a unique evening out.
A graduate of Northwestern University, Schmidt said she worked in corporate marketing for 20 years when she decided to make a career change.
“I knew Vino van Gogh was right for me for so many reasons,” she said. “I cannot fathom doing anything more motivating than this: helping local neighborhoods flourish; our guests get a few hours to escape; and we’re giving local artists meaningful work.”
Launched in the Chicago area in January, Schmidt said they host about 30 Vino van Gogh events each month. She added St. Louis venues, too, employing the same guiding principles at each location.
“Our business approach is to support the local neighborhoods where we operate,” Schmidt said. “Within the Chicago suburbs, we’re mobile and go to different neighborhoods, bringing life into the local economy. We hire local artists who create our inspiration paintings and teach the classes. These artists are gallery owners, school teachers or others passionate about art who want some part-time work.”
Aurora artist Gary Cudworth joined the Vino van Gogh team as an instructor four months ago. While he described the event as “the hot new thing” to do, he thinks Vino van Gogh has staying power.
“I really think it’s going to last for a long time,” Cudworth said. “It gets people away from their Facebook and computers at home, gets them out and learning a new skill. This isn’t a paint by numbers, this is the real deal. I am teaching them how to really think as a painter and really paint.”
Naperville resident Celeste Wagner owns Aurelio’s Pizza Springbrook Square along with her husband, Steve. Wagner said when she stumbled on the Vino van Gogh website, she was intrigued.
“I thought it looked like great fun,” said Wagner of Naperville. “We had our first one last month, and people had a riot.”
Along with hosting it at Aurelio’s, Wagner decided to take part in the event. She was pleased with the results.
“I am not an artist at all, but it is very easy to follow,” she said. “The instructor takes you through it step by step. It is something anyone can do.”
Jen Schoenberg shared the sentiment. The Plainfield resident attended the Vino van Gogh event at Aurelio’s along with her husband, Mark.
“I do not consider myself to be an artist, but I signed up because it looked really fun,” the 33-year-old said. “There were so many different paintings to choose from, and all the locations were fairly close, so I picked out the painting I liked the best. I think it will be cool to watch someone, follow them and then see our interpretation of the same picture.”