Businesswoman brings Chicago-born concept to Portland market

by: TIMES PHOTO: JAIME VALDEZ - Katie Sahnow of Aloha shows her painting to other students during a pop-up art class at The Lounge studio in Northwest Portland. As Danielle Knapic freely admits, she has no experience or particular affinity for creating art.

So what, then, was she doing with a brush, paints and a mural outline not long ago at the Jenkins Estate in Aloha?

While she coaxed out whatever creative impulses that may have sat dormant within herself, Knapic was also socializing, relaxing and engaging in a team-building exercise with colleagues from Nike World Headquarters near Beaverton, where she works as a senior administrative assistant.

As many who participate in events by West Slope resident Joni Marsch’s “Bottle & Bottega Portland: Art Uncorked” discover, the casually social settings lend themselves to personal growth.

“As someone who does not have an art background, and even is a bit intimidated by art, social art events like Bottle & Bottega help to bring out your creativity and make you feel like a real artist,” Knapic says. “It’s a great feeling to be able to create art you are proud of, even willing to display.”by: TIMES PHOTO: JAIME VALDEZ - Bev Olson of Forest Grove works on her painting during a pop-up art class.

A native of central Illinois, Marsch started Bottle & Bottega: Art Uncorked, the first Portland area “pop-up” art franchise, soon after arriving here in November 2012 with her husband. In an effort to provide an alternative to a typical night out at the bars, Marsch partners with nightlife venues to host on-site public and private art-creation gatherings.

The events, which encompass small canvas and mural painting, sculpting, ornament making and more, cost $35 per person and include a 30-minute social gathering with snacks and supplies provided. One of Marsch’s pool of guest artists offers a hands-on tutorial to help participants create something memorable to take home.

Starting from the couple’s home garage while living in Aloha, Marsch gradually moved Bottle & Bottega out of the house, holding events at the Hall Street Bar and Grill and Barrell Fine Wine in Beaverton. For now, while scouting out a permanent location to hold regular events, she has set up shop at The Lounge at 1230 N.W. Hoyt St. in Portland’s Pearl District.

“I don’t like to call these classes, because you don’t get judged,” she says, noting the events aim to add something new to an evening of socializing. “People are having a good time while being a little more creative. It’s great for those who haven’t had much of a chance to be creative in the past.”

Describing Bottle & Bottega as a small, women-owned franchise, Marsch picked up on the concept through Stephanie King-Myers and Nancy Bigley, the owners she met during the 10 years she lived in Chicago.

“We’d vacationed here,” she says. “It just seemed to fit. We came to follow our dream. My husband and I saved for years. It was fate putting everything together.”by: TIMES PHOTO: JAIME VALDEZ - Raun Koffman of Southwest Portland works on his painting during a pop-up art class.

While she grew up in an artistic household where her father worked with wood and stained glass, Marsch sees herself as a businesswoman who loves art and wants to bring it into other people’s lives.

“We try to bridge the gap between those who have painted and those who do paint,” she says. “There can be a divide (around other artists) if you’ve never painted before.”

For a typical evening, which she tries to limit to 15 to 20 participants, Marsch does her best to provide a helpful, but low-key presence.

“I’m everything from janitor to the hostess with the most-est,” she says with a chuckle.

Marsch admits that fulfilling a dream with a novel business concept in a newly adopted home presents some challenging prospects.

“It’s been scary at times,” she says. “Every day is a roller coaster, but it’s been a great ride.”by: TIMES PHOTO: JAIME VALDEZ - Artist Sarah Lopez shows students how to paint a scene during a pop-up art class at The Lounge studio in Portland's Pearl District.

Are you ready to create?

What: Bottle & Bottega Portland: Art Uncorked, offering fun evenings of art creation and socializing in a public studio setting or private events

Who: Franchise owner Joni Marsch, a West Slope resident

When: Check online calendar

Adult beverages: Events are currently catered, but participants will be able to bring their own once a permanent studio is secured

Cost: $35 per person, group rates available


Call: 971-205-5070.

by: TIMES PHOTO: JAIME VALDEZ - West Slope resident Joni Marsch started a pop-up art class for artists to gather and work as a group on a painting.

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