When Alejandro Castanon moved to San Angelo in 2011 after eight years in the Air Force, he looked for a paint and sip class, similar to the ones he had taken in Dallas. At that time, there were none in San Angelo.

That didn’t stop him from finding a way to participate in his hobby. He talked to some downtown business owners about his desire to bring paint and sip classes to San Angelo, and “they were all confident it wouldn’t work here,” he said.

“So, I decided to do it myself,” Alejandro said. “I bought easels, paints, and contracted with Crystal Goodman,” a local artist.

Together, the two started the first paint and sip classes in San Angelo, and his business, Vino Dipinte, was born.

“I was the assistant for a while,” he said. “During class, I would sketch out of boredom. One day, she (Goodman) noticed I had some rough skills that could be developed, and suggested I try painting.”

While he says he started out “rough,” eventually he got good enough for Goodman to start mentoring him.

“I really enjoyed it,” he said, “but it wasn’t until I sold my first one that a light bulb went on.”

Alejandro had been working at Time Clock Plus, and got called into the office of company president Jordy Moorman, where he was told, “This is not your passion.”

During that meeting, Alejandro noticed a 20 Under 40 plaque on Moorman’s wall.

The rest of that conversation was prophetic, as Moorman told him, “This will be the last job where you have a boss.”

“That allowed me to grow as an artist,” Alejandro said. “Had Jordy not pushed me in that direction, I would probably still be at Time Clock Plus.”

In 2015, Alejandro was honored with his own 20 Under 40 nomination, and was presented his plaque by Jordy Moorman.

“It was kind of bittersweet,” Alejandro said.

For a while, Alejandro and Goodman had a second, larger location on the corner of Oakes and Concho for their popular classes, called Art on the Concho. In December of 2016, Alejandro decided to focus his efforts on Vino Dipinte, so now Goodman is sole owner of that location.

Six years after Alejandro helped bring paint and sip classes to San Angelo, there are now many similar options in several venues.

“When the Painting with a Twist franchise came to San Angelo, I looked at our business model, and asked, ‘What can set us apart?’”

“I took a step back, looked at the city and its habits, and made a big change.”

While Vino Dipinte still does paint and sip classes periodically, their main focus is on artisan classes, such as “Secret Sushi,” “Beer Brewing,” “Make-up Makeovers and Margaritas,” and others.

“You can only do so many paint and sip classes before you get bored,” Alejandro said. “My customers matured. Once they get a taste of art, they want to explore and find more.”

Disrupt or Be Disrupted

“I wanted to create something that’s going to challenge the industry,” Alejandro said. “I have to be the leading innovator that’s going to capture the audience.”

San Angelo is a great place for up-and-coming artists, Alejandro said.

Alejandro sells prints of his paintings on his Etsy page, as well as in his gallery in San Angelo.

“I could go to the big city and try to make it big, but everybody’s going there. San Angelo is an opportunity for any artist.”

“The opportunity is there (in San Angelo),” he said, “All you have to do is raise your hand and show up.”

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