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Painting the Night Away: Picasso Night at Bonita Bill's for Ostego Bay

March 4, 2013
Fort Myers Beach Bulletin, Fort Myers Beach Observer

Uniting art and science for a cause, local philanthropist Shirley Semmer has teamed up with Vino's Picasso art studio to create an artfully fantastic benefit for the Ostego Bay Marine Science Camp, Saturday, March 23, starting at 6 p.m., at Bonita Bill's Waterfront Cafe, 702 Fisherman's Wharf with special guest and famed artist Craig Petersen.

Centered all around fun and excitement for benefit-goers that evening, Vino's Picasso, a local art studio that pairs fun painting courses with a night on the town, will have everything set up and ready for guests to paint, sip on cocktails and help raise funds for science campers.

"This night is all about fun and all skills are welcome, from beginner to experienced," said organizer Shirley Semmer. "I have chosen 'Beach Signs' as the painting that we will all paint that night, and while we're all having fun with that, the very talented Craig Petersen will be working with his easel to the crowd, creating a one-of-a-kind masterpiece that will be available to win the following week."

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“Beach Signs” is the selected painting to replicate during the March 23 benefit. Photo courtesy MERCEDES PRICE HARRY.

For those of you who look toward painting as something you never thought you could do, don't be alarmed. Vino's Picasso walks guests through each and every step of the process, from which brush to use, to how to mix colors, to what step to take next on the canvas.

"Our studio is not an art school. So often people don't paint because they don't even think they can draw stick figures. But painting is very therapeutic, and we like to take a painting and walk you through, step by step. You'd be amazed by what you can accomplish," said Mercedes Price Harry, owner of Vino's Picasso. "We're proud to impact the local art community, using local artists, and we're pretty relaxed and make it all about fun. I am a big advocate for private education, so I'm always trying to help schools and their education, and so happy I?can help the Ostego Bay Science Camp during this benefit."

While taking your time creating your own one-of-a-kind masterpiece during the benefit however you decide to do so as it's up to you what colors and styles you choose enjoy a special selection of wine and beer that evening at discounted prices, specially organized for the painters, Shirley said.

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This is also a "bring your own beer or wine" evening, but why not make it an extra special night to remember and try some new and fun twists from the bar?

"This night is just all about fun and helping raise funds to help our science camp. We will have a ton of nice door prizes to give away that evening, from nights out at Vino's Picasso, to bottles of champagne and wine, paint palettes and so much more," Shirley said. "The following week, we will raffle off Craig's original piece he made that night after Peppermint Patti's set, Saturday, March 30, with 100 percent of the proceeds going to Ostego Bay an you don't have to be present to win."

The cost to enter the benefit is $45, with $10 of that amount going directly to Ostego Bay, and includes all paint and supplies.

To register your spot(s) during the fund-raiser, go to and click on the Calendar page. Go to the March calendar and click on "March 23." For further information, assistance or to pre-purchase a raffle ticket to enter into the drawing for Craig's one-of-a-kind masterpiece, call Shirley at 994-3134 or Vino's Picasso, 288-6953.

"This is [Vino's Picasso's] first benefit, and we're hoping to do more in the future. We're hoping its a grand success anytime we can help raise money for education or art, we are proud to do so. Just come out, drink and have fun," Mercedes said. "The emphasis is that there is no experience needed. Just come and have fun. even if you can't paint! Ninety percent of our customers have never painted in their lives. Five percent haven't painted in years, and the other 5 percent are hobby painters. It's just a great time for a great cause!"

So far, 15 people are registered for Picasso Night at Bonita Bill's and there's only room for a total of 40, so get your RSVPs in early to be sure you and your friends have spots for this very special benefit evening.

Both Bonita Bill's and Vino's Picasso are on Facebook. Be sure to visit and "like" their pages for further updates and special offers.

About Vino's Picasso

Mercedes Price Harry opened her local art studio, 15250 S. Tamiami Trail, Suite 109, South Fort Myers, in November of 2011 and it has been a huge hit ever since.

Pairing a night out with painting and wine makes an evening at Vino's Picasso the perfect chance to share a unique girl's night out, guy's night mingling or fun date night experience.

"We get people from Punta Gorda, Port Charlotte, Marco Island, East Naples, Sanibel, Fort Myers Beach and Cape Coral all the time," Mercedes said. "Everything needed to create a masterpiece is included when you walk in the door the aprons, the paint, the supplies, the canvas everything. And we set up and clean up, so you don't have to worry about anything but having a fun time out. We encourage everyone to just come out and have a fun time while making something that you get to take home and enjoy."

Adding to that unique experience, Vino's Picasso is licensed to offer fine craft beers and wine at their studio.

"Craft beer is usually higher in alcohol content, and it's all about flavor, with all different types to choose from, like blackberry, stout, porter and so many others," she said. "We have seven wine varieties two of which are sparkling and we have the most delicious Riesling."

The studio offers set times and days for sit-down paint lessons on particular masterpieces, but "open paint" is available throughout the day, where you come in at anytime, choose a masterpiece to recreate and go about it on your own.

Studio hours are Tuesday to Friday, from 2:30 to 9:30 p.m., opening at noon; and Saturday, noon to 9:30 p.m.

During the day, open paint with no instruction is available for just $20. Walk in anytime and walk out with your own hand-created masterpiece.

Reservations are preferred for evening painting sessions, as spots can fill up quick.

"Also, we've created a division called VP Mobile, supplying everything needed for a fun day of painting in homes, businesses, wherever," Mercedes added. "All you need is 10 people, a table, chairs and a garden hose, and I'll supply the rest."

For more information on Vino's Picasso's upcoming events and lessons, visit, or email for any further questions.

"We're such big advocates of teaching children about art and our local environment, so it's a passion of mine and Shirley [Semmer's] to put this fund-raiser together. "It's such a great combination while doing a good thing for great people, so come on out and have a really great time for a really great cause Saturday, March 23."



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