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 canvases 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 looking for something different to do.
Here are several cool art 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 online event 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 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).
The Mud Room
The concept of investing in an experience rather than simply purchasing a product is nothing new at The Mud Room in Grand Rapids. This DIY art studio has been offering local residents and visitors the opportunity to get colorful and creative since 1996.
With ample opportunities for creating, designing, and painting as well as shelves for shopping, you can easily spend an entire day in this innovative space.
Creativity is at the core of The Mud Room’s mission, and this studio provides art experiences for people of all ages. Pottery painting is one of the most popular options at the studio, as everything that you need to create your own masterpiece is right on site.
Adults and children alike can search for a piece that they love, and paint it at the studio. Then, the piece is left there in order to be fired, and you can go back to pick up your completed artwork about a week later.
If you want to do more than paint a piece that has already been created for you, you can try your hand at the in-studio potter’s wheel. This working potter’s wheel allows you to work with clay to create your own pot.
The potter’s wheel is available to any guest who is 7 or older, and an instructor is there to help anyone who is new to the experience.
Once you create your clay pot on the wheel, you can add color to it that same day to personalize your design. Then, the pot is left at the studio, where the expert artists will fire and glaze it for you. Two weeks later, you can return to pick up your finished product.
The Mud Room also frequently hosts group experiences, such as art parties for children who want to celebrate their birthday with a creative twist or wood pallet painting parties for adults who want to showcase their artistic side.
And, if group hangs are not your thing, you can head to The Mud Room to pick up curbside art projects.
Get Creative in Grand Rapids
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, 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.”
After crafting with your friends, you’re probably ready to get a bite to eat, and restaurants in Grand Rapids are plentiful and offer a wide variety of cuisine options.
For example, The Heritage Restaurant is known as the premier fine dining establishment in the city, but this unique restaurant is run by culinary school students.
Another dining experience that cannot be missed is San Chez, which is a tapas restaurant that also offers cooking classes.
Of course, no visit to Grand Rapids would be complete without a trip to a craft brewery. The Mitten Brewing Co. is a local favorite that is known for both its small-batch beers and its artisan pizzas.
You can finish your adventure in Grand Rapids off on a sweet note with a trip to Pinkie’s Ice Cream & Desserts. This local ice cream shop features more than 30 flavors of ice cream as well as many specialty items, such as shakes, malts, and sundaes.
Editor’s Note: This article was originally published in 2015 and has been updated for accuracy. Thanks to Lyndsay Israel for her contributions to this article.