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Everybody's Business

Painting with a Twist adds social element to art

PALMA CEIA — Painting with a Twist promises aspiring artists will paint an "original" artwork in two or three hours, while sipping and snacking with friends.

"Not art classes, but art as entertainment," says owner Leslie Gay. "It's social painting."

Paint, brushes and 16- by 20-inch canvases are provided to re-create any of the 900 landscapes, florals, abstracts and cityscape paintings copyrighted to the company, which began as Corks N Canvas in 2007 in Louisiana. Leslie and her husband, Marvin, both accountants, opened last month on S MacDill Avenue, just north of Bay to Bay Boulevard. In 2008, they bought and opened the first franchise in downtown St. Petersburg.

Staff artists offer step-by-step instructions on sketching, which brush to use and preparing a palette to paint an easy-to-follow piece of art.

By evening's end, says Leslie, "you'll take your finished painting home and hang it on the wall."

Two-hour sessions cost $35; three hours cost $45. Classes are from 7 to 9 p.m. Tuesdays through Saturdays. Reservations are recommended.

Bringing wine or other refreshments makes it even more fun, said Leslie, who supplies ice, cups, napkins, small plates and corkscrews.

Private parties can be booked for 10 to 36 guests. The most popular are children's birthday parties, team-building events and monthly fundraisers called Painting with a Purpose.

Painting with a Twist is at 2821 S MacDill Ave. A new calendar is posted on the 15th of every month at Call (813) 839-2409 for more information.

Library Coffeehouse has European flair

Opening the Library Coffeehouse is "a dream come true'' for Debbie Dunsmoor, who has managed restaurants in Florida and New York.

"My partner and significant other, Paul Willies, was a customer when it was Ashley Espresso and before that when it was Jet City," said Dunsmoor. "When he heard it was for sale, he knew it was for me."

Indeed, says Willies, "I've pretty much started every day here for the past 18 years."

The couple sought a European coffeehouse setting when they renovated the S Dale Mabry Highway cafe, five blocks south of Bay to Bay Boulevard.

"Chess set, comfy chairs, lots of books and free WiFi,'' Dunsmoor said. The ceiling-high bookcase in the rear beckons borrowers and lenders.

Dunsmoor uses Buddy Brew coffee to make high-end coffee drinks, including a daily special. "Independents support independents, you know."

Blueberry muffins and other baked goods are homemade, except for bagels and croissants. Soup and chili are made from scratch. "Nothing out of a can," she says. "If you are paying $4 for a cup of coffee, my food needs to complement it."

Within a week of opening Jan. 24, the pair revved voters by collecting votes — one ballot per beverage purchase — for Tampa's next mayor and District 4 City Council candidate.

"Campaigns are run on caffeine,'' said Willies, urging customers to vote/drink often. Results are updated constantly in the shop and online at

The Library Coffeehouse is open daily at 3201 S Dale Mabry Highway. Hours are 7 a.m. to 4 p.m. Sunday to Wednesday and 7 a.m. to 9 p.m. Thursday to Saturday. Call (813) 410-1927.

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Painting with a Twist adds social element to art 02/10/11 [Last modified: Thursday, February 10, 2011 3:31am]
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