Twistin’ The Art Away

The arts are alive and well in the Centre Market area, with visitors encouraged to be spectators, consumers and participants in a variety of creative endeavors – from music and literature to the visual, performing and culinary arts. Now there’s a new way for people of all ages to participate, with the addition of a drop-in painting studio, Art With a Twist.

Wheeling native and lifelong resident Stacey Taylor has turned the offices at 2215 Market St. into a creative space for visitors of all ages to paint their own pottery, piece together mosaics or try their hand at canvas painting. She opened April 5.

Taylor “loved art in school” (she’s a Wheeling Central Catholic graduate) and discovered paint-your-own pottery while visiting relatives in Gainesville, Fla.

“We took our two girls to paint, and they loved it. I said, we need something like this in Wheeling.”

Taylor is no stranger to opening a small business: Her husband, Scott, started ProLawn lawn care service five years ago, and he also is part owner of TaylorMade Printing in Wheeling, along with his parents, Jim and Debbie Taylor.

But the former stay-at-home mom didn’t jump right into her new enterprise. She kicked around the idea of opening the business for about a year, researching what it would require and even making a trip to Florida to meet with a shop owner who gave her advice. Then, when the Centre Market space came up for sale, with the help of her parents, Bob and Marlene Nau, she decided to go for it.

“I thought this was the perfect spot. … There’s a lot of art down here. It seems very Victorian, very artsy. It just seems like there’s a lot going on down here,” Taylor said.

Indeed there is. There are theater productions and arthouse cinema showings at nearby Towngate Theatre; theatrical readings, open mics and gallery hops at Artworks Around Town in the Upper Market House; live music at SMART-Centre Market, Market Vines and Artworks; not to mention wine tastings and food made from scratch at several eateries and bakeries inside the market houses and on Market Street.

“Art with a Twist fits the mold of what we are trying to accomplish here at Centre Market – that is, to be all things to all people,” said Kurt Zende, Centre Market manager and City of Wheeling’s economic development specialist. “Stacey’s establishment is a great addition to the neighborhood.”

“This is a super-fun place,” said Ellen Shook of Moundsville, who stopped in on May 21 to pick up the utensil caddy and vase she and her friend painted the week before. Taylor had since glazed and fired the pieces in her on-site kiln.

“My friend and I had an hour to kill; we were going to a wine tasting,” Shook said. She had been to a similar studio in Medina, Ohio and “had a blast.”

“I definitely will be back,” she said.

One whole exposed-brick wall of Art With a Twist is lined with shelves that hold unpainted pottery from which customers can choose.

Pieces include household items such as plates, goblets, chip-and-dip bowls, platters, napkin holders, light switch plates, picture frames and coasters; animal figures including dolphins, monkeys, teddy bears, bunnies, chicks and dragons; large letters; trinket boxes; crosses; skulls; flower pots; utensil caddies and more.

There is a set fee for adults and children to paint, which includes the paint, tools, glaze and firing. The pieces are sold separately and range in price from $1-$30. Most people, Taylor said, spend an hour or an hour and a half painting. Then they come back about a week later to pick up their completed creation. The studio is open from 11 a.m. to 6 p.m. Tuesday through Saturday, and Sunday by appointment.

Taylor also offers canvas paint ‘n’ sip sessions and painting classes. She can host birthday parties for all ages, bridal and wedding showers, girls’ nights out and date nights. Her cousin, Victoria Yuhase, and Megan Simcox, a graphic designer at TaylorMade, help with the classes and the paint ‘n’ sip events. Her mom helps out on Saturdays, which Taylor said have been her busiest days.

Taylor said she gives customers ideas on designs and colors if they ask, and she has a variety of finished pieces she created on display throughout the shop. In addition to painting, she offers wooden figures on which customers can place small tiles, creating a mosiac that she later grouts and finishes.