EBGB - The Underground Wine Bar
Location: 1203 Pine Street, Oakland, CA 94607; Directions ; (510) 419-0172
Some artists work in studios while others put paint to canvas after setting up their easel on the sidewalk. But Oakland artist Kerin Mentkow works in cafes and bars, where she helps students create their own works over coffee or a glass of wine.
Known as "Art a la Cart," Mentkow's classes springboard off downtown Oakland's burgeoning cafe and restaurant scene, offering aspiring artists ways to nourish their creativity amid the usual customer chatter and tapping of laptops at nearby tables.
"I want people to think of it as a social occasion," Mentkow said. "I don't want them to feel uptight about it."
A graduate of Tufts University and Boston's School of the Museum of Fine Arts, Mentkow supplies materials and shows students step-by-step how to create their own paintings.
Each session features four two-hour classes with a single theme, such as a landscape or animals. But students are also free to drop in and take just one or two classes.
During the sessions, the 22-year-old Mentkow paints in front of students, who work in acrylics and follow her strokes, starting with the background and gradually adding components until their work is complete.
There are breaks for wine or beer and socializing.
"The concept is part underground artist club, part happy hour retreat," Mentkow said.
Mentkow's classes are among the latest cultural offerings in downtown Oakland and nearby neighborhoods that were once noticeably deserted as darkness fell.
"It's a changed place," said Carlos Ibarra-Ruiz, 26, who lives in the neighborhood. "For me, the Mission district in San Francisco was once the place. Now it's here. But I also worry that the more Oakland becomes chic, the more it will lose its authenticity."
Mentkow said she tries keep her classes relaxed and low-key.
"Most of the students have never picked up a brush in their lives," Mentkow said. "I like to think of it as paint-by-numbers for adults. A way for anyone to create art."
Recently Pacific Cannery resident Charles Allensworth teamed with EBGB Kerin to celebrate Black History month with a presentation the Allensworth heritage and township.