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‘Paint and sip’ parties a chance to kick back and create

Melanie Noonan, left, and Denise Hellekson, right, begin their paintings during a Creatively Uncorked event earlier this month at Elmwood Park in West Fargo. Carrie Snyder / The Forum2 / 4
Alissa Riley starts to paint a dragonfly Wednesday during a Creatively Uncorked event at Elmwood Park in West Fargo. Carrie Snyder / The Forum3 / 4
Blake Pelzl, 7, of Moorhead, carefully starts his painting. Carrie Snyder / The Forum4 / 4

WEST FARGO – On a recent Wednesday evening, women and a few men sat around picnic tables sipping wine and other spirits while they swished blue and green paint across canvases and listened to Weezer playing in the background while birds chirped overhead.

Though they were following the same instructions, each of the soon-to-be dragonfly paintings looked just a little bit different.

It was the fifth Creatively Uncorked painting session in which Alissa Riley of Moorhead was participating.

“It’s fun to socialize, and it gets me back into painting,” said Riley, who studied painting in college after first learning the art from her grandmother.

Shanna Cramer of Moorhead started the business, Creatively Uncorked, because she wanted to bring the paint-and-sip concept popular in other parts of the country to Fargo-Moorhead.

“I heard about it on the internet, and I just thought, ‘That right there is my dream job,’ ” she said.

She offers painting parties in public settings, as private events, or in a family environment for kids and parents to paint together.

She provides all of the art supplies and demonstrates the techniques before guiding participants one step at a time through the process of creating a painting.

It’s a process that seems to lend itself to some great works of art, no matter the artist’s skill level.

“It’s more about the process than the outcome,” Cramer said. “It’s just fun, it’s enjoyable. It makes us happy to paint.”

Cary Verdi of Fargo said she first attended a class thinking her painting wouldn’t turn out, but the finished piece was a success.

“I think it’s great … an opportunity for people to get out and try painting,” she said. “To go out and buy all of the stuff to go out and paint a picture, would cost a lot of money.”

In an afternoon class during which kids (minus the wine, of course) were painting cupcakes, Cramer had participants paint the blue background before delving into the cupcake’s frosting.

With precise strokes, 7-year-old Blake Pelzl transformed his blank canvas into a bright green cupcake against a blue background. His mom, Sherry Anderson of Moorhead, looked on with pride as he added dimension to the layers of frosting.

“He loves to sit and draw and be creative,” she said. “It’s something fun and different.”

Amy Holstad of West Fargo signed up her 7-year-old daughter Lauren, because she loves art and painting. Holstad plans to attend a future Creatively Uncorked event for herself.

“It seems like a great girls’ night,” she said. “Wine and painting, it doesn’t get better. It allows you to be artsy, but you don’t have to be really good at it. There aren’t a lot of things like this in the community.”

Cramer, who also owns The Web Shoppe, a web design, web marketing, web development and graphic design business, held her first painting party in mid-May and said it has been taking off from there.

She went to school for art and design, but said she had kids and hadn’t painted in 16 years before picking up a brush again in December.

“As soon as I started painting again, I realized I had to do this,” she said. “I feel this is exactly what I am supposed to be doing with my life.”

Cramer said she loves the stories people tell her about how the art touches them – like the man who painted a tree that looked like a tree in his grandma’s yard.

“I’m thankful for the opportunity to do something I love and share with so many people who love it, too,” Cramer said.

Artist Kimberly Kenyon of Moorhead helps out at the events. She and Cramer went to school together and have worked together. Kenyon said they always talked about getting back into painting.

“I just thought wine and painting was the best idea I’d ever heard of,” Kenyon said. “It satisfies the need to be creative.”

Creatively Uncorked holds the events at venues all over the community. The kids’ events are geared toward ages 6 and up. The adult events are for those 16 and older, though Cramer said some events are held in bars, so participants need to be at least 21 years old at those venues.

Events are listed on the website, The specific paintings Cramer will teach are listed on her calendar.

Prices range from $25 to $45, depending on the painting and the event.


Tracy Frank

Tracy Frank is a SheSays, Variety, and Farmer's Forum reporter for The Forum of Fargo-Moorhead. Have a comment to share about a story? Letters to the editor should include author’s name, address and phone number. Generally, letters should be no longer than 250 words. All letters are subject to editing. Send to

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