SHOP TALK: 'The weird, wacky, funky stuff' at For Art's Sake

Megan Bair poses in front of a paint-spattered wall at the back of the For Art's Sake studio, a shop she co-owns and operates. May 24, 2023.

Megan Bair and Lisa Webster own and operate For Art’s Sake, a boutique and gathering place for artists of all shapes and sizes. 

Through their business, Bair and Webster host community events, like the May 13 painting adventure at the Island Park skatepark. They also have roots in the annual outdoor art market, which is how their shop got started. 

Central Michigan Life sat down with Bair to learn more about For Art’s Sake, the colorful downtown escape. 

Can you tell me a bit about yourself?

Yeah, where to start? I’m an artist, and have been teaching paint classes for just about six years. Over time, life changes and happens, and long story short, we landed here. June will be two years: Two years of building up our art community and learning how our community works and what they need and want. We’ve been able to continue to grow For Art’s Sake. 

I’ve been an entrepreneur and community-oriented person for forever. I’m a mom and I went to CMU, that’s what got me to Mount Pleasant. I came to Mount Pleasant a long time ago and I’m still here. 

I started in elementary education, and I’m one of those people who didn’t know for sure what they wanted, or I thought I did. I switched to art education, and then social work, and then advertising and finally entrepreneurship. I landed with an entrepreneurship major and advertising and leadership minor. 

What do you have in the store for the community?

Our goal is to have something for everybody, whether or not you’re creative or a right-brained person. That way we can pull in everybody. 

Our “maker space” is an area where you can craft or create with our materials. We have glue and scissors and pom-poms and wood-burning, and a toaster oven for crayons and candles. It’s so fun to be able to play with the different materials without having to invest in all of that, before you decide if you love it. 

We do private parties and artist-led classes and workshops. We invite local artists to come in and teach their medium -- whatever they choose to do. We’ve got everything from stained glass to painting to pom-pom wreath making. Tomorrow we have a charcuterie workshop with Sweetwater Catering Co., so again, something for everyone.

The back half of our store is more of a boutique. We have over 60 local artists that sell their artwork. There’s earrings and candles and thrifted clothes, books, other jewelry and plants. We love the weird, wacky, funky stuff. It’s really exciting to have so many like-minded artisans in our space that we can really enjoy seeing all the inventory coming in. 

Your website says you do splatter paint and rage rooms too. Can you explain what those are?

It’s so fun. It’s great for group bonding experiences or birthday parties; the splatter paint room has been used for kids’ birthday parties and bachelorette parties and family outings. The experience, creating the memory, we have a really nice space for that. 

We provide a canvas, and we fill squeeze bottles and buckets and spray bottles and textured paint rollers -- it’s like messy art. You get the bottles and suits and everything to protect your clothing and it’s an opportunity to make messy art. I had a field trip here last week and I tried to explain to them that this is “process art.” The end result almost doesn’t matter, it’s the experience and the process of making it. The goal is just to have fun. 

(The rage room) is a great indoor outlet. The winter is very, very busy... We are so grateful to our community support (because) it’s all donated materials, bottles and glass and things from local bars. We do about five people per session in that space; you get bats and wrenches and sledge hammers, whatever weapon you choose to let out some rage. You don’t even have to be full of rage to enjoy the experience. 

I used to work at a restaurant and dreamed of dropping a whole stack of plates. I just want to know what it feels like. 

You’ve been at this location for two years in June, where were you before this?

For Art’s Sake actually started as an outdoor art market. I used to own a restaurant and we would host local artists on the walls to sell their work. And every month that would change, so we built this whole community of artists. But when the restaurant closed for the pandemic, I needed somewhere to put the artists because I didn’t want to lose their opportunity to showcase and sell their work. 

Oct. 23 of 2020 was the first pop-up artist we did, and in June we were able to move inside and have a regular standing boutique. We built the community, had an annual art sale to just have everyone together in one place. Creative minds thrive by being around each other, I think. I’m inspired by seeing everybody and their work. So this August will be the sixth annual market for the arts (predating For Art's Sake). 

I think as an entrepreneur, as a small business owner in whatever capacity, you have to learn to adapt. As an artist you have to learn to adapt. Sometimes you get to do the things you love and really want to do, and sometimes you have to do what other people ask ... so you can keep making money. So, that’s part of the reason why (at) For Art’s Sake we want to have something for everyone. If there’s less success in selling artwork, there are still activities and experiences to be had by our community. 

If you could have readers walk away with one idea after learning about you and your business, what would you have that be?

The store and I are both continuing and excited to learn. I think that everyone benefits from staying open-minded and continuing to learn and grow and adapt.