July 13, 2012
BY :: SPARKLY STELLAFLY
PHOTOGRAPHY :: TIM MOTLEY
I consider myself a fairly crafty (as in arts and crafts) person, so I was pretty excited when I first heard about Brush Studio, in Gaslight Village in East Grand Rapids. Brush is a new concept to West Michigan, offering painting classes in a social setting. You can take a class on your own, make it a girls or a couple’s night out, a family affair, or a team-building event for the office.
Brush is the brainchild of Lisa Jabara and Heather Callahan. The two met when Callahan began working at Hot Mama, another business owned by Jabara, and also located in Gaslight Village. They have known each other for five years and have been working on this venture for the past year. The idea came from Callahan after she and her husband had visited friends in Colorado and saw a similar concept called Canvas and Cocktails. She saw an opportunity for this in West Michigan and approached Lisa on the idea. Heather is a former 2nd Grade teacher with a creative arts minor in college, and Lisa has a business background, which made the perfect combination for starting Brush Studio.
One of the most popular offerings of Brush is their private parties. They work one of three ways—a group can reserve the entire studio for themselves, they can come and paint during a regularly scheduled class, or Brush will come to the group. Parties can be for kids or adults, and this is an excellent family activity.
For every class, Brush provides all materials—a 16×20 canvas, paints, brushes, and an apron. If your group would like to reserve the entire studio, you can select the painting they would like to create or Brush Studio artists will create a custom painting just for your event. Brush has partnered with Ramona’s Table in Gaslight Village to offer catering, and also offers beer and wine. If there is a specific type of beer or wine your group wants to have that night, Brush will make sure it is available to you. This can be a great way to celebrate a special occasion or even a team-building activity for the office. For this type of private party, the cost to have it Sunday-Thursday is a $200 fee plus a $35 painting charge for each individual, and on a Friday or Saturday, the cost is a flat fee of $2,500. Those prices do not include the catering.
Groups can also join a scheduled class for just the cost per painter (which varies from $30-$50 depending on the painting), and pre-order food from Ramona’s so it is there when they arrive. The staff at Brush makes sure your group is seated together and works hard to ensure everyone is having a wonderful time.
Lastly, Brush Studio offers “Brush To-Go,” an option that brings the paint studio to you. This could be a great way to add a little something extra to a dinner party at your home or have a fun team-building event at the office. This option is offered for a $200 travel/set-up fee plus $50 per painter.
On Friday night the Sparkly Stellafly and a few of her friends signed up for the “Starry Night” class, so they could re-create the famous work by Van Gogh. It was a fantastic experience. From the moment you walk through the door, the staff is highly attentive and extremely helpful in getting you set up with your palette, brushes, apron, and paint. Seating is already assigned when you arrive (so be sure and let them know if you are coming with friends and want to sit together) and there is a little bit of social time before the class starts.
As you get set up at your station, you also have an opportunity to order food from Ramona’s Table off of a custom menu they put together for Brush Studio, or purchase beer or wine from the bar.
Once the class begins, the instructor introduces the painting and the brushes that the class will be using. (Jabara and Callahan found local artists mostly through word of mouth and through some postings at Kendall College) Then you are taken step-by-step in creating the painting, and the rest is up to you. It was interesting to observe each painter’s style and interpretation of “Starry Night” and I was amazed at the fact that mine actually somewhat-resembled Van Gogh’s masterpiece.
During the class, the Brush Studio staff is walking around, offering to refill your glass, get you more paint, and answer any questions you may have. Our class last night included a private party and they had a very fun night. They had arranged for food from Ramona’s Table and pre-ordered their favorite wine, and it was all waiting for them when they arrived. When the class was over, there was still time to socialize and shop in the retail section offered in the front of the studio. All of the products are made by artists with some connection to West Michigan. On the night of your class, you receive 10% off all retail purchases.
All in all, this was a really fun way to spend a Friday night, and I highly recommend this for anyone—no matter if you consider yourself creative or not, it’s a fun way to get together with friends. If you are interested in trying it out, go to their website or check out their Facebook page for a schedule of classes and to register online. Or give them a call at 616.805.5099—tell them Stellafly sent you.