Return of the painting class, opening of the gallery in person

Visual Fringe, the visual arts component of Orlando Fringe Festivalwill bring back its popular cocktail and painting class, along with a variety of other events, during the second week of the festival.

The Cocktails and Painting Class, which debuted last year, is a ticketed event in which attendees are led by an artist to create a selected painting, while enjoying a cocktail of their choice.

Visual Fringe producer Melanie Leon said the event received positive feedback last year, paving the way for its return this year.

“Everyone was able to sit close together and have a drink, chat, laugh and get to know each other,” Leon said. “It was truly a joyful moment.”

Leon said course participants would walk in, go to the bar to choose a cocktail, and be given a canvas, brushes and paint.

“The teacher will then guide them through creating what she has selected this year – a close-up image of a very colorful rainbow guitar,” Leon said. “It’s very marginal.”

Local artist Becca Koopferstock, who leads the class, said class time should be enjoyable and relaxing.

“My goal with them is that if you want to follow what I teach, you’ll probably have a painting quite similar to what I paint,” Koopferstock said. “But also, if you just want to go off and do your own thing, it’s time for you to create something.”

Koopferstock said her favorite thing about the class is that it’s something different that can be accomplished together.

“It’s a unique thing to do with your friends, spouse, or kids,” Koopferstock said.

Visual Fringe Associate Producer Megan Markham, who attended the event last year, said Koopferstock is really good at teaching the class.

“I did one last year, and it didn’t look terrible,” Markham said. “And I’m not a painter.”

Koopferstock said visual art is something you can learn.

“The more often you do it, the better off you become,” Koopferstock said. “So if it makes people feel like they’re capable of painting something because we walked them through step by step, hopefully that helps them on their journey to continue if they want to.”

Visual Fringe’s art gallery, which opened to the public on May 17, will remain open until May 29.

The gallery, located inside the Orlando Shakespeare Theater, features pieces by local artists that are for sale – 100% of the money raised goes to the artists.

Leon said the gallery is like the theater part of the festival in that it’s 100% prejudice-free.

“We don’t take parts based on how long you’ve been an artist or what it looks like,” Leon said. “If you submit and want to be there, you can be there, which allows us to support artists at any point in their artistic journey.”

Markham said the gallery has sold 53 pieces so far.

“I think we might have double that,” Markham said. “And we’re not even halfway there, so that’s good.”

Markham said she’s thrilled the gallery is coming back fully this year instead of being back halfway like last year.

“Last year we were online and we sold a decent amount of pieces and artists got money that they otherwise wouldn’t have gotten,” Markham said. “But it wasn’t real, big Fringe.”

Visual Fringe also opened its new headquarters this year, officially named Visual Fringe HQ, which is located in the Orlando Shakes’ Patron’s Room.

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Visual Fringe HQ features crafts, live events, shows, selfie backdrops, an artist vending machine, the art market, and even a creative lounge where people can hang out.

Leon said she was honored to be part of Visual Fringe’s growth process by leaps and bounds this year.

“We have more events than we’ve ever had, we have a venue that we haven’t had in years,” Leon said. “And watching people develop that connection with the festival and that connection with the art is really powerful for me.”

The cocktail and painting class will take place at 7 p.m. on May 29 on the Play What You Can stage at the Lowndes Shakespeare Center. Buy a ticket on

For a complete list of Visual Fringe shows and events, visit

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Briana R. Cross