Red wine meets ‘Starry Night’: BellTower hosts art workshop

ANDREW BRADDOCK | Evergreen reporter

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Painting supplies and glasses of wine will adorn the tables of the Pullman BellTower July 10 as a Spokane-based company hosts a unique art workshop.

Van Gogh and Merlot combines accessible painting instruction with alcoholic beverage options to provide a social experience and an outlet of artistic expression. Owner Ulysses Mireles said the workshop is for people of all skill levels and artistic experience.

“When it comes to art, sometimes people are intimidated and are not successful,” Mireles said. “I take the group on a step-by-step process on how to paint a piece.”

The sessions take place in a low-stress environment as it’s important for people to trust the process and enjoy the experience, he said.

“People need to just relax, and that’s where the wine comes in,” he said. “We often hear jokes that it’s more merlot than Van Gogh.”

Participants are often pleasantly surprised by their own work, he said, noting that everyone should leave with a piece of their own creation.

“I like the way we do it,” Mireles said. “It gives the everyday person the ability to enjoy it and come out with a picture in the end.”

BellTower general manager Jenny Finau said she expects Mireles to return after the event, which will be his first time working at the venue.

“We hope that it’s successful enough that we can do this a few times a year,” Finau said.

When the BellTower opened in 2009 it was used primarily as a concert venue. During the past year, however, its staff has focused on private functions like wedding receptions and formals for fraternities and sororities.

Finau said events like Van Gogh and Merlot are opportunities to involve the public again.

“This is kind of the kick-starter for our public events,” she said. “We’ve had a really good response so far, and I think the public is really hungry for this type of thing.”

Swilly’s owner Joan Swensen, who is relocating her Pullman restaurant from Kamiaken Street to the BellTower, said she hopes to open its doors by the end of July.

Swensen will help the BellTower staff serve wine and appetizers at the event. The BellTower, which has a full liquor license, will also serve an assortment of beer and spirits for mixed drinks.

“I think the local community will enjoy it,” Swensen said. “I think it will be fun.”

Van Gogh and Merlot will take place from 6:30 p.m. to 9 p.m. and is open to those who are 21 and older.

Tickets can be purchased at the BellTower or Prune Orchard during business hours, or online at They cost $50 and will not be sold at the door.

The ticket price covers all the necessary painting supplies as well as appetizers during the event. Drinks will be available at additional costs.

The BellTower is located at 125 SE Spring St. in Pullman.