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Art Uncorked! Brings Cork Artist To Tri-Cities

We needed 10,000 corks to create a mural of a Washington Wine Legend. That’s a lot of wine!

What Is “Art Uncorked!”

Art Uncorked! is a two day event when an international renowned cork artist, Scott Gundersen used 10,000 corks from Tri-Cities wineries to create a mural of Chas Nagel, a Washington Wine Legend. Chas Nagel was a food scientist for WSU in the 60’s and 70’s and is credited with helping to establish that the Columbia Valley was a viable region for growing European wine grapes. Chas Nagel passed away in 2007.

How Art Uncorked Came To Tri-Cities, WA

Two years ago, I participated in Leadership Tri-Cities, a program to learn the ins-and-outs of the Tri-Cities. Because the program’s purpose is to take skilled leaders and help them become catalysts for positive change, each class is required to execute a service project that impacts the economics of the region. My class of 25 created an art contest and fundraiser that would provide art in unconventional locations in the area and raise funds to keep art in the community. As I researched artists to personally invite, I discovered an artist in Grand Rapids, MI who used recycled wine corks to create murals of people, pets and places. This artist was Scott Gundersen.

Scott Gundersen

Although the project with my leadership program was not a fit for Scott at the time, I shared with him that I really wanted to get him to the Tri-Cities. His work is incredible and the material for this project is essential in the industry in which I live and work in. His work would inspire others, be a piece of art to enjoy in our community and the best part was that we could provide the essential pieces for the mural, the stained, recycled wine corks.

As I became more excited about the possibility of having Scott in our community for a commissioned piece, the idea started to grow. It grew from him creating a small mural, to having a 2 day event where he uses wine corks from the Tri-City area wineries to create a mural in our community. I was so excited; I could hardly sleep at night. I knew for what I wanted to do, I could not do it alone. I made a list of the people and organizations in our community who were already showcasing support for art and community. One of the organizations I witnessed at community events was Gesa Credit Union. I visited their website and saw that they identified community contribution as a value. When I viewed their sponsorship guidelines, I read that they supported family, education, entertainment and fine arts. I felt like this would be a perfect match and I hoped that they would too. I submitted the requested and crossed my fingers. I really hoped they’d support the event I named Art Uncorked!

Gesa Credit Union accepted the request and committed to sponsoring Art Uncorked! My contact was Angie Brotherton and she seemed as excited about the project as I was. Angie was amazingly supportive, super responsive and was a cheerleader through the planning of the project. My favorite conversation with her occurred when she was traveling on business. For several minutes we tried to have a dialogue about Art Uncorked! but every few seconds her GPS voice would chime in about her next turn. With a laugh, Angie shared that she felt like she was driving in circles. We managed to get our points across through the loud GPS voice. Thank you to Angie for being my contact and advocate for this project and to Gesa Credit Union for the support to our community and sponsorship of Art Uncorked! This project would not have happened without your support.

Here’s the highlights from the week of Art Uncorked!

Scott Gundersen at Hedges Family Estate

Scott Gundersen arrived to Tri-Cities and got to right to work. He had 10,000 corks to assemble. His work space was at the gorgeous property of Hedges Family Estate.

Tri-City area wineries donated recycled wine corks for the mural.

Tri-City area wineries donated 10,000 recycled wine corks for the mural.

Scott Gundersen at Richland Farmers Market

The first opportunity for the community to see the start of the mural was at the Richland Farmer’s Market. Many locals and kids got the chance to help Scott work by handing him corks, including my little one Jayden.

Scott-Gundersen at Gesa Carousel of Dreams

Scott also had the chance to work on the mural at the Sunset at Southridge Event Center next to Gesa Carousel of Dreams.


Scott finished the mural at Southridge Sports & Events Complex. Dr. Chas Nagel’s son, Rob Nagel put in the final cork.

Chas Nagel cork mural.

What a finale!

The Dream Team

I had a big vision for Art Uncorked! and I knew it would take a Dream Team to pull it off. I wanted a team of 4 – 5 Rock Stars with a variety of skills and team work capabilities.

Kristine, Shae, & Scott

I knew I needed someone who was saavy, energetic, influential and dedicated. I thought of Kristine Bono. Kristine runs the Tasting Room and other big ideas at Goose Ridge Estate Vineyard and Winery. I got my first chance to work with Kristine on a wine 101 training project a couple of years ago. Kristine was prepared for every meeting and shared creative ideas and solutions. She did a stellar job at presenting her material and was very easy to work with. I was impressed with her dedication to the training, not only did she do a stellar job at creating her presentation, but she helped streamline and connect the overall program. When I shared the concept of Art Uncorked! and asked Kristine if she would join my team, her response was “heck yeah!” I knew I had a winner and that I’d have fun in the process with her on the team. Thank you Kristine for your positive attitude, your determination to pulling off this event and for showing up ready to put in hard work.

Jenn Nance is known for getting things done. She has a talent for juggling multiple projects, quick communication and thinking outside the box. She’s very creative, thinks broad and has a knack for connecting ideas. I get the chance to see Jenn’s work first hand as I’ve worked closely with her on Red Mountain AVA Alliance projects. I met Jenn a few years ago when I was just considering getting into the wine industry. Although our first interaction was brief, it took no time at all to know Jenn was focused and knowledgeable on wine. It has been fun getting to know her and work with her. I knew she would be a great fit for Art Uncorked! When it came to making sure we had the essentials to execute the event, Jenn was on it. When I asked Jenn if she would be on the team for Art Uncorked! she had a couple of creative words that pretty much boiled down to “of course”. Jenn, thank you for your “no beat around the bush” responses, your creativity and your dedication for getting this event done successfully.

I’ve watched Deb Culverhouse in awe since I moved to the Tri-Cities. She is a master at hospitality, event planning, and providing stellar service to her guests at Hedges Family Estate. She executes events with grace and ease. She’s calm under pressure, finds creative solutions effortlessly and is fun to collaborate with. I consider Deb a mentor and was thrilled when she accepted my request to join the team to plan Art Uncorked! Thank you Deb for jumping in and taking on the tasks that included welcoming guests to events, planning the meet the artist event and creating a welcoming space for our artist to work in. I value you and what you bring to our industry and our community.

When sharing the concept of Art Uncorked! at a wine community meeting, Deb Issacs expressed to me that she’d love to help. I met Deb when she started working at Col Solare. I knew she planned and executed beautiful wine dinners and provided a wonderful wine experience for guests in her tasting room. I knew her skill sets would be a bonus for Art Uncorked! so I immediately took her up on her offer to help. Deb is organized, knowledgeable and is a great team player. She is observant and shared great ideas for the event. Thank you Deb for taking on the tasks that would have otherwise fallen through the cracks, for hosting our planning meetings and for raising your hand to help pull off a successful event. I believe that team work makes the dream work and I got the chance to work with a Dream Team for this project. Thank you, Ladies for the opportunity! It was fun!

Thank you, Scott for visiting the Tri-Cities and blessing our community with your talents. I appreciate the grace and graciousness showed to our locals and your dedication to creating this historical piece of Chas Nagel. Even with limited sleep you greeted our community each day with a smile. You truly were a pleasure to work with and I hope you come back to the Tri-Cities soon.

Scott Gundersen, Kristine Bono, Shae Frichette, and Jenn Nance

Scott Gundersen, Kristine Bono, Shae Frichette, and Jenn Nance.

There were also some behind the scenes supporters that helped with Art Uncorked! Thank you!!!

Art Uncorked! was an idea that grew wings and became an event that inspired hundreds of people, entertained those who got the chance to witness the creativity and provided great exposure to art in our community. I look forward to getting the chance to do something like this again.




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