Muse Paintbar founder and co-owner Stan Finch said Great Neck fit the bill of where he and his partners wanted to set up their innovative studio that combines art instruction with bar-style social interaction.
“Of all the communities in Long Island, we liked Great Neck the most because we look for areas that have a little bit more character and charm,” Finch said. “There’s a bit of an artistic vibe and interest in the area, plus the Gold Coast Arts Center is right down the street as well as other art related businesses.”
Located at 34 Middle Neck Road in the Village of Great Neck Plaza, Muse Paintbar was scheduled to open it’s doors on Thursday for people to come paint and enjoy different wines, beers, and food.
“People are usually creating art two-thirds of the time and socializing for the other third of the time,” said Finch. “We’ve had people say it’s the most fun they’ve had because for two and a half hours they weren’t thinking about any problems, just painting and having fun with people who were there.”
Finch, a Texas native, said he got the idea from other businesses in the Dallas and Fort Worth area, where the paintbar concept has become very popular.
While studying marketing at the Harvard Business School, Finch met his fellow Muse Paintbar co-owners Ray Weaver and Vanessa Leigh, who is also the lead artist for the studio.
“Ray was my business school marketing professor, we were working on a couple of projects together,” Finch said. “Ray knew Vanessa and that’s how we all got together.”
Since they met, the trio has opened a Muse Paintbar in nine different locations in New York, Connecticut, Massachusetts, New Hampshire, Rhode Island, and Maine, and Finch said they are looking to open six more locations including Port Jefferson, Garden City, and Tribeca.
While he is not an artist, Finch said, his appreciation for artists helped influence the paintbar idea.
“The idea was one from the standpoint that it would be really fun,” Finch said. “While I am not a trained artist myself, I hang around a lot of them and have appreciation for what artists do.”
Classes at the studio are taught by Leigh, as well as various local artists from Long Island.
Finch said typical lessons are very relaxing and people of any age and skill level can come and enjoy a session.
“Basically, you come in with a friend or by yourself, look for your name tag and a station will be ready for you to go with aprons and tools,” Finch said. “If you feel so inclined, you may go to the bar and have a drink or food. The instructor will walk everyone through the steps for the painting, let you know where everything is, and the lesson will kick off.”
Public sessions can last anywhere from two to three hours, but Muse also offers private events, kids’ parties, and family sessions.
Aside from having a good time, Finch said, part of the experience is for people to “create something that they can take home and be proud of,” People can register to attend a session on musepaintbar.com, where a description of the class and cost for attending will be specified.
Finch said the goal of the business has always been to have fun and provide something new and innovative to enhance people’s creativity.
“The main goal is to continue to provide a high-quality experience for customers who come in and for us to continue to have fun,” he said. “I have a lot of fun going to different areas and meeting with customers and artists and seeing and being around an atmosphere where people are creating and can express their more creative side. We want to continue to develop new types of products.”