Bottega Art and Wine is no stranger to transitions. In fact, much like an artist’s swift concentrations of movement in design and aesthetic, the gallery has gone from its Front Street period to its Princess Street period and now to its Fourth Street period. First opened at the hands of Steven Gibbs and Bonnie England, who then sold it to Sandy Perotto, Bottega is now owned by local artist Addie Wuensch, who took over the gallery in October.
“When I found out Goodfellas was moving into the Princess Street Bottega location—and Sandy was closing her doors—I really panicked and decided that day to buy it,” Wuensch says. “I always loved Bottega, even when it first opened. Since I was a starving artist and art student, I would show there or hang out and drink wine and do weird things.”
Wuensch began bartending at the spot six years ago. Today she is the sole owner of the art gallery; however, with the help of Bethany Ross as her cosigner, Bottega will expand in 2018 with a spa in the back of the business, run by Ross.
In brainstorming about its expansion, and having 2,000 square feet of space to fill, for Wuensch to extend the business platform came naturally. Currently, the gallery is showing more than 100 artists across multiple mediums from sculpture to collage to paintings to ceramics to jewelry and prints. Additionally, Wuensch has added more in the way of retail. Racks of various clothing for men and women can be found.
“I am still primarily focused on fine art and art shows and events, but the clothing was a fun little addition to Bottega 3.0,” she tells. “In three months of reopening the business, I started purchasing art and retail items and tags and bags and furniture, and had all the stuff all over my apartment. I could hardly walk around—the whole business was in my living room and spare bedroom.”
Friends were helping along the way, by cleaning the business floors and walls, and redesigning the outdoor sculpture garden and tiki bar. Wuensch was connecting to artists to hang their works, including the likes of Char Oden and Grey Pascal. As well, Wuensch’s paintings and jewelry can be found at the store.
“I love boutiques and thought since we have so much space at the new Bottega, it would be fun to incorporate both boutique and gallery to bring more people in the door and immerse them in the arts,” she continues.
Yet, the real heart of Bottega will continue to be its promise to cultivate artists’ most sacred thoughts and encourage their output in all mediums. More so, Wuensch wants to develop a book of artists contacts to help them reach into the community for individual and commercial work.
“I want to provide art for film sets and people for their homes or businesses,” she tells. “I want the artists to have somewhere to go to get inspired and create new art, music and poetry, and have a special place to feel at home like a family and show their talents and become successful. I want to educate the community about the arts and how important it is to support the arts because they are such a positive outlet—especially in times like these with tense political issues erupting.”
An activist at heart and proponent of “weird thought-provoking shows,” Wuensch will incorporate more performance art into Bottega as well. The first show in the new locale will be in February and will feature the abstract portraiture of Ryan Small, along with his original music, which he will play live on Bottega’s new piano.
“Every month or two, we will have solo art shows,” Wuensch says. “I’m very excited for Ryan to be our first show. Also, I think this is his first art show ever. He is multi-talented, and I’m honored to give someone so talented their first experience showing art work.”
Not a stranger to the arts community, Wuensch has been working with and showing artists for 15 years. Being an artist herself means also having a heft of empathy for the process.
“I understand the struggles of the artist and can help with the art business side of their work,” she tells. “I want to be really hands-on with my artists and buyers and create a good business relationship that becomes profitable for the arts community. My long-term goals are to get the community thriving and get our artists making money.”
To continue growing Bottega, Wuensch’s friend and another Wilmington business owner, Nikki Von Barkee of Von Barkee’s pet grooming, started a Go Fund Me! account to help Bottega. Any one who cannot make the grand opening on Friday, December 2, 6 p.m. to 10 p.m., can donate (www.gofundme.com/a-place-for-everyone-bottega). The reopening of the gallery will feature live music, art, wine, beer, and a collective of people continuing to support the arts in this upcoming neighborhood.
“I love the Brooklyn Arts District,” Wuensch says. “It’s a very special place and full of artists and poets and people who support the arts. It’s very cool, and it’s growing. I like that.”