Wine pairs well with a lot of things. Cabernet goes with steak, riesling with sushi, zinfandel with grilled meats and albariño with steamed clams and mussels. But wine with painting? That pairing is exactly what Texas couple Kermie and Algy Irvin is serving up at their Houston-area studio called Painting with a Twist. At first, this might not seem like the most likely alternative for a night out, but their business has been booming and it doesn't take long to realize that these two excellent hosts believe in what they are doing. The Irvins love wine, have good minds for business and caring hearts that always give back to the community.
From Hardship Comes Inspiration
Kermie, an engineer, and Algy, a photographer, were a successful couple living in New Orleans when Hurricane Katrina left them homeless. They lost everything in the storm except their love for each other and their entrepreneurial spirit. They moved to Houston, shifted gears and decided to go into business for themselves. Their good friends Renee Maloney and Cathy Deano had a business model with their Louisiana-based Corks N Canvas concept and the Irvins opened the “lifestyle franchise” in The Woodlands, Texas back in 2009 in the middle of the recession. “People thought we were crazy, the economy was rough,” says Kermie when asked about their decision. But she and her husband had gained strength based on their recent experience. “Nothing could be worse than Katrina. We had no home, nothing,” she continues. “So this would be easy compared to that.”
The actual experience (which costs either $35 or $45) is one that can make quick friends out of total strangers, bring colleagues closer together, serve as a great “date night” for couples and even make a perfect wedding party. A local artist leads a painting session and step by step amateur artists are guided through and end up surprising themselves at how successful they are. Kermie says, “People first think that they can't do it. Then when it's over, they say, ‘I can't believe I painted that.'” There aren't a lot of worrisome art terms or expectations. Artists are chosen for their ability to connect with a group of people and entertain as they instruct. “It's not about being intimidated. You don't have to be an artist – it's all about fun.”
So What About the Wine?
The “twist” in Painting with a Twist is, of course, the wine. The couple points out that while they do have special family days, most of the sessions at Painting with a Twist are for adults only. If you have children, it's definitely a time to leave them at home with a babysitter. The franchise doesn't actually provide the wine. Guests bring their own which immediately helps to make them feel comfortable. Personally, both Algy and Kermie say that they really enjoy Rombauer Vineyard's Napa Valley zinfandel and Napa Valley cabernet sauvignon.
The Irvins opened a second location in Kingwood, Texas and are very aware that what they do, even though it's a private, commercial business, is about giving back. The franchise works with several charities, including the Breast Cancer Foundation which their last fundraiser raised over $20,000 for.
To pick up your glass and brush soon, visit www.paintingwithatwist.com for the Irvins' locations or a location near you.