Cara Ehegartner has always had a passion for art.
But her parents encouraged her to take a career path that would help pay the bills. So Ehegartner got a degree in counseling.
But her passion for art never left.
It led Ehegartner and her husband, Bill, to open Twisted Vine, a paint-and-sip studio, in downtown Papillion.
“I’ve always loved and have always done art,” she said. “I wanted to get back to my artistic roots.”
On Thursday night, Ehegartner and instructor Rhonda Earith set up blank canvases along with empty paint palettes, clean paintbrushes and full water tins to prepare for that night’s class.
Open since March 1, Twisted Vine has been hosting about four classes a week.
“It’s going very well. We’re very pleased,” Ehegartner said. “It’s exciting because people come in and show enthusiasm for it.”
Most customers have heard of the store by word-of-mouth.
Tammy McChesney heard about the studio from her neighbor. It provided McChesney and her networking group, “Women Who Wine,” a different type of outing.
The group typically meets once a month at a different member’s home. The host provides snacks and the rest of the group brings wine to share.
McChesney and many of the group members hadn’t participated in a class like this before, she said.
McChesney and 10 other participants created colorful paintings of a bridge at sunset.
KJ Wohlers hasn’t dabbled in painting before but she, and many of the other group members, are avid crafters.
“All of us craft in some way,” Wohlers said. “I quilt. This was something different to do on a Thursday night.”
While Jamee Strickland has never participated in a paint-and-sip class, she’s seen friends post about them on Facebook and it made her interested.
“It looked like a lot of fun to do,” Strickland said.
For Earith, teaching adult classes is a nice change of pace. During the day, she’s an art teacher at Patriot and G. Stanley Hall elementary schools.
“I’ve never done adult classes like this, but I love it. It’s so much fun,” Earith said. “It’s a good change from the elementary art scene.”
Ehegartner and Earith both instruct classes.
“It offers variety in artists,” Ehegartner said. “It’s kind of nice to vary and mix it up a little bit.”
Both have come up with ideas for paintings to teach. But all paintings have to be easily teachable.
“We really want paintings anyone can feel successful with,” Ehegartner said. “Paintings can be broken down and explained to satisfy all skill levels. Sometimes people will look at the painting and be very intimidated but when it’s broken down, people are so amazed at what they can do.”
Twisted Vine also hosts family painting sessions on the weekends and children’s birthday parties.
With summer approaching, Ehegartner wants to offer more classes. She also plans to expand Twisted Vine’s offerings to include wine tastings, hosting Kids Clubs events with the school district and offering classes to individuals with disabilities.
To sign up for classes, call 402-593-7616 or visit TwistedVineCollective.com. Evening classes cost $35 and include a beverage. Day-time family painting classes cost $25.
The Ehegartners always knew they wanted to open a business but needed to find a niche.
“I participated in a paint-and-sip class and I loved it too much,” she said. “I talked about it with my husband and he said, ‘That’s it. I think that’s what we need to do.’”
Omaha has several paint-and-sip studios, including Corky Canvas, and Canvas and Cabernet. But Papillion was lacking in that area.
“Papillion doesn’t have anything like it,” Ehegartner said. “It’s an evening activity that doesn’t involve eating out or hanging out at bars.”
Twisted Vine is more than just a paint studio. It is also part boutique, selling home decor and vintage items. Items from about 11 Papillion and Sarpy County artists are sold at Twisted Vine.
“It gives other entrepreneurs an outlet,” Ehegartner said. “I’m proud of that.”
Twisted Vine is also a bar. Most of the offerings are boutique wines that aren’t found in grocery stores, Ehegartner said. They handpick wines from a variety of distributors to offer something different to customers.
Twisted Vine fits in with recent art additions to downtown Papillion such as a new art gallery at Sump Memorial Library and the artists operating the Bell Place Shoppes.
“I love Papillion. We were very much welcomed into the downtown business community,” Ehegartner said. “Everybody has been so kind and helpful. I don’t think we would’ve taken on this venture anywhere else.”