You’ve probably seen the photos, you know the ones I’m talking about, groups of happy people holding up Van Gogh’s Starry Night with a glass of wine in hand. I’ve seen the DIY canvasses in people’s homes and I’m baffled at how good the end result looks for some very non-artistic friends! An artsy night out has become the new recreational outing in West Michigan as wedding parties, family reunions, business team-builders, and friends look for something different to do. Here are three cool studios in Grand Rapids that are making this recreation accessible and affordable.
I spoke with Maria Babrick, local artist and teacher at Brush Studio GR, to find out what is happening to motivate this artistic revolution in Grand Rapids. Babrick works mainly with acrylic paint, and has contributed to Brush as a teacher and as a subject designer (she paints some of the canvasses that are taught during classes). Brush Studio is located in quaint Gaslight Village and offers a full bar and a full schedule. Between open paints, family days, and scheduled canvas classes, it’s helpful that they offer a punch card that rewards every five classes with a free one! Their calendar allows you to look ahead at what is being painted and sign up accordingly for whichever painting you’d like to take home.
In the West Side Neighborhood of Grand Rapids, there is even more art happening. Hearts for the Arts opened in 2011 and moved to its new location on Quarry and Leonard in 2013. Owner Shannon Andrus has a passion for creating and offers a huge variety of classes including sensory-free art therapy for artists with special needs and Pupcasso sessions where even your doggie can make something to hang on your wall! One of the newest initiatives at Hearts for the Arts is Brushes and Brews, an off-site class at The Mitten Brewing Co. (which Andrus, her husband, and friends co-own). Tonight’s session is in support of Make A Wish West Michigan, but all of these sessions have sold out so far! Like Hearts for the Arts on Facebook to learn about special paint events or use the calendar to pick classes that work for you.
As I did some research for this article, I happened to be driving to and fro. Just off of Monroe, I noticed a cute corner building with a welcoming ambiance, and was thrilled to see that it was an art studio! What are the odds? I went in and met Dana Bradt, founder and head crafter. Inspirations of Art does provide classes, but the primary focus for their space is to bring artists together to finish their own projects. Maybe you have a hard time working at home without being distracted or you just don’t have room to store the equipment you need? Or, maybe you just plain don’t have the equipment you need. This is where renting for a day or a week or a month would be beneficial. Learn how to quilt, upholster a chair, build a doll house, or whatever craft you’ve most recently pinned. You can take what you need, grab a bottle of wine and some friends, and finally make it happen. In addition to painting classes, check out the beginner sewing classes, photo quilt classes, and watercolor options on the calendar.
The most artistic thing I’m capable of painting might be the walls in my house. What I love about this DIY artistic revolution is that you don’t need experience or training to create something beautiful. As ArtPrize Seven approaches (September 23-October 10), find a reason to incorporate art into your autumn and maybe you’ll find that Babrick’s point is true for you too: “Art keeps me sane and ultimately happy. It’s as simple as that. I lose myself in my art and tend find inspiration in my everyday life. The feeling that I get when I complete a painting, or when I get to see the recipient of that painting as they receive it, is a feeling that can’t be matched.”
How do you explore your artistic side? How are you getting creative this fall?