For Arts Sake provides a hub for local artists to sell, create work
On the outside it may look like a storefront under construction – but step in – and you’ll see the work of dozens of local artists covering the walls.
For Art’s Sake has occupied the downtown property at 117 S Main St since October 2020. What started as an annual art sale evolved into a colorful cooperative business.
In the space between the artwork on the walls, you’ll see canvases, paintbrushes, homemade candles and hand-sewn dresses. The place is filled with piles of fabric, paint, drawers full of yarn, buttons and every other crafting supply you can think of. Take one look inside, co-owner Megan Bair said, and you will know that this is a place for artists.
“A lot of artists didn’t have a place to sell their work, it’s really hard to be a full-time artist,” Bair said. “It’s a lot easier if we all come together and be part-time artists together.”
Bair said the road to opening her business is long and winding but also gratifying. When Bair and her husband opened a restaurant together in Rosebush she had no idea the small diner would eventually launch her career in buying and selling art.
Megan and her husband Chris opened Roz’s Diner in 2015. For five years the restaurant was considered a staple in Isabella County.
As a way to decorate the diner, they began hiring local artists to cover their walls in original paintings. Soon many local artists from Rosebush and Mount Pleasant used Roz’s as a way to sell their art to the public.
After an artist showcase was cancelled, Megan realized she had no art to show at Roz’s for a month, so she began to create art of her own. She had little experience with painting but quickly found a passion for creating art after she made her first piece, a painting of a giraffe named April. Bair then began creating pieces for commission, organizing large-scale art sales and teaching classes all without any formal training.
Roz’s Diner closed its doors for good in October 2020 while COVID-19 health and safety guidelines made it difficult for restaurants to operate. Bair found herself with a year’s worth of artwork to display, and no diner to display it in.
This is what lead Bair and her business partner Hannah France Mikus to buy and renovate a storefront in downtown Mount Pleasant. This is how For Art Sake’s new storefront was born.
“When we closed I had a year of artists booked for wall space,” Bair said. “So I started showing artists in the window space here.”
Bair and France Mikus began displaying art in the windows of the old New Yorker building in October. The pair met when France Mikus ate at Roz’s diner and attended a few painting classes, they began working together to renovate the New Yorker building into a storefront.
“I would walk by the New Yorker all the time and it kept catching my eye,” Bair said. “It was sad to see it empty for so many years.”
It wasn’t until June 2021 For Art’s Sake opened its doors to sell art. Since then, the business has become a hub for dozens of local creators to make money off their hobbies.
This is important because France Mikus said numerous talented creators never end up making money off their work.
“As an artist, I know how hard it is to promote yourself and talk yourself up,” Mikus said. “We all kind of think we’re not good enough – it’s easier to sell other people’s art.”
A studio space is open for visitors to use the supplies to create art of their own – and provides artists a place to socialize. For $10 anyone can come in and use the space.
Feeling stressed? Angry? Like you could throw something at the wall? At For Art’s Sake, you actually can. The cement walled room in the back of the store, the “rage room” is available for anyone to use to smash glass bottles and plates to their heart’s content.
“Everyone should come to the rage room, sometimes we all need to just break some stuff for a while,” France Mikus said. “Especially after the year we just had.”
For Art’s Sake also offers courses – not only in painting – but also needlework, tie-dye, papier-mache and more than thirty other styles of art. Classes are taught by the owners as well as local artists.
All updates and upcoming events can be found on the business’s Facebook Page and Instagram.
For Art’s Sake provides an environment for artists both new and experienced to learn how to improve their work and to sell the art they make.
“I’m doing it for art’s sake, I’m not doing it to get rich,” Bair said. “I’m doing it because people need to see this beautiful stuff and be encouraged to make their own.”