In depth with Darin News

It’s our sapphire anniversary

In 1976, Hugh Huelster took the “art supply corner” out of The Hungry Mind bookstore and into its own, standalone space one block down the street…and Wet Paint was born!  There have been two ownership changes (Hugh’s Macalester College classmate, Beth Bergman, bought Wet Paint in 1984, and long time employees Darin Rinne & Scott Fares bought it from Beth in 2017) and three moves (all in the same block, with the last move to our current location in 1993) since then, but one thing that hasn’t changed in 45 years of existence is our commitment to serving our wonderful creative community.  We wouldn’t be here if it wasn’t for you!  And – speaking of not being here – most of our staff wasn’t even alive when Wet Paint started; as one who was, that’s a sobering thought!  It made me wonder what the seven of us who were around in 1976 were doing when Wet Paint first opened its doors.  For me, my first (and only) publishing credit comes from that year, as the original copy of the book I wrote, illustrated, and bound with staples – The Evil Book of Vampires – was received into my elementary school library…I wonder if it has been deaccessioned?

Paper Department Manager, Verra Blough:

“I was in high school in California playing tennis & waitressing at the local Sizzler.”

Floor Manager, Greg Graham:

“I drove to Provincetown, Massachusetts from Albany, New York with my friend, Sue, to enter our prints in an exhibition juried by Robert Motherwell; neither of us were accepted.”

Framer/Custom Services Manager, Kate Katzer was born in 1976, so she – like we – is celebrating her 45th this year!

Co-owner, Scott Fares:

“July 4, 1976 I was in the Webster Groves Community Days parade riding in the back of a big, red International Scout truck that was towing an eight foot tall firecracker which had been built and upholstered in red velvet by my dad and grandfather. There was another kid in there with me that was singing two lines from the Carpenter’s song  “Top of the World” over and over. It made for a long parade.”

Programming Manager, Virginia McBride:

“I was traipsing around Europe turning 21 and seeing all the art and architecture I had only seen in black and white in Janson’s Art History textbook.”

Justin Terlecki:

“In 1976, I was two years old and just learning to draw and paint. I have faint memories of sitting at the kitchen table with my Crayola crayons while the radio played the sweet sounds of the Carpenters “Close to You.”

Man…The Carpenters were huge in the ‘70’s.

A 22-year old Darin Rinne checking in brushes at Wet Paint

Wet Paint has been a part of my life since Beth first hired me in 1988…when a number of our staff still weren’t born!  Over this time, I’ve had the pleasure of working with dozens of smart, talented & interesting people, young & old.  Like with my six “1976 & before” compatriots above, Wet Paint has become my career – a place to work for & with like minded folks.  It’s an honor & a privilege for Scott & I to provide the same meaningful employment to our team that Beth & Hugh provided to us and those before.  On the occasion of this anniversary, I’m excited to think about the next generation that finds a lifelong home at Wet Paint…and takes it into the next 45 years!

By DarinRinne

After working at Wet Paint for over 25 years, Darin assumed the role of co-owner in 2017. He looks forward to continuing the commitment to service and support of the community that has defined Wet Paint since 1976.

2 replies on “It’s our sapphire anniversary”

In July 1976 I was a beginner at calligraphy, trying to teach myself. I had heard that real calligraphers used something called gouache in their pens. Wanting to be a real calligrapher I headed off to Wet Paint to hunt for the required item. It was my very first visit. I had written out the word on a slip of paper – gouache, and finally it was time to ask the question. “Uhhh… you have…..uhh….go-AWE-chee? Hugh, the young owner, stroked his moustache and replied, “Do you mean GWASH?”. A year later I joined The Colleagues of Calligraphy in search of a person who could show me how to use unopened tube of gouache. Forty-five years later, I am a real calligrapher and Wet Paint is my art store! In deep gratitude, Jean Formo

Thank you so much Darin and Scott, as well as Beth and Hugh, for your dedication, hard work and courage. It takes courage to build a business, to stake yourself to uncertainty and to throw in with partners.

Partners is a good way to describe what Wet Paint is to our community. You’ve been there for nearly half a century, but more than the longevity, you’ve helped countless Artists, learners and explorers bring their dreams to life.

I can’t remember the exact day I first walked into Wet Paint, but it was sometime in 1981 when I was a Sophomore in High School looking for supplies for a school art project. The people were so helpful and knowledgeable and I’ve been coming through your doors ever since.

Over those years, like many Artists and folks from the community, Wet Paint has become more than an art supply store to us. It has become a partner in the community, a center of artistic energy, and a place filled with good friends.

In some way or another an awful lot of us are connected to Wet Paint and that sense of connectedness transcends the exchange of money for goods. So many of us have become great friends and built relationships over the years.

When I see Darin, Scott, Greg, Virginia, Justin, Liz, Chris, Kristina, Verra and other staff, sure we talk about art supplies which is always awesome, but we also talk about our lives, passions and things that make life meaningful. You have always been good friends and partners to the community we all share.

Despite my efforts it is hard to sum up in words what you have all meant to our city and to me personally. You are part of the fabric that makes our community great and it is meaningful beyond measure.

Congratulations to you all on forty-five incredible years. May the next forty-five be even better.

With every good wish!


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