247 Art Haus seeks to become artistic hub for local creatives
Paint and sip nights are becoming extremely popular because they allow those who normally have no artistic ability to become Picasso by following along with an art teacher. The concept was sure to be successful as soon as wine was thrown into the mix. The growing fad was recently picked up by local Westbury artists who created a venue for a paint and sip, but want to utilize the space for so much more.
While driving down Maple Avenue, you may miss 247 Art Haus, located behind Ma Petitie Spa. The small storefront that faces a parking lot became a joint venture for Ma Petite Spa owner, Woody Li, and his girlfriend, Toni Niederaur, out of their mutual love for art. One understands the passion the two have for art as soon as they walk through the door of the boutique and paint night venue.
“I feel really comfortable here and I like it,” said Niederaur, explaining why she thought Westbury was the best place for 247 Art Haus. “I live in Westbury. I just feel like this town is always so busy and there’s so many cool things happening in and around this area. There’s always great stuff, so I said Westbury will be a good place to do it.”
Walking through the door, one is greeted with an adorable vintage boutique with an eclectic variety of items for sale ranging from handmade nightmare catchers to pillows from Uzbekistan and Morocco or necklaces from Turkey.
“It’s a change from all the generic gifts,” explained Niederaur. “When I go to the mall, it’s just like a factory. Nothing pops out at you and makes you go ‘whoa, where did that come from?’ I’ve imported things from Turkey, Uzbekistan and India, so I have a lot of unusual stuff. I have travelled to all these different places and hunted down these things.”
The walls are adorned with paintings by Niederaur’s brother and herself. She hopes that other local artists will soon have their paintings on the wall as well. Niederaur wants to do an artist collective in which she has local artists teach a class or help out in exchange for a free place to store their artwork, either in the basement or displayed on the walls of the store.
“We want artists to know that they can use us to display their art work,” said Niederaur. “It’s kind of like when you go into a coffeehouse and you see artwork and it’s just kind of integrated into the décor of what’s happening.”
247 Art Haus had an unofficial opening about two weeks before Halloween in the second room of the store, which holds three tables and a bar. The paint and sip venue hosted a skull painting party to celebrate the opening and the season. Niederaur served sangria, chips and guacamole to go with the Mexican themed sugar skulls.
“We were talking about having drinks that mimic the things we do,” said Niederaur. “I’m very into bringing it all together. Making something a little authentic. It’s a way to get culture into people’s lives without it being painful. I’ll do it when I’m teaching too…I’ll give you pointers and history while we’re painting.”
The venue can be used for reserved paint nights, bachelorette parties and birthday parties. And despite just opening, Niederaur has hope that the paint and sip venue will be more than just that. She has many ideas to bring art into the community such as providing lessons to enhance artistic skills, creating comic book programs in which kids develop their own comic books or even giving guidance for portfolio development.
“When I was young, there wasn’t a lot of things available,” said Niederaur. “The AP was great once I got through it, but getting through it was hard because everyone is pulling at the teacher and you don’t really get the attention that you need, so portfolio development was one thing we wanted to do.”
Currently a teacher in the special needs department at Merrick Avenue Middle School, Niederaur hopes to one day join forces with local schools and integrate art into certain classes.
“Kids like to draw, but they don’t have it in school anymore,” said Niederaur. “They’re cutting art too. If there weren’t places like this, then you’d never get to do any art.”
Suggestions are always accepted and Niederaur is willing to work with others to host events, take on projects or come up with new themes for the events. Many people have been asking Niederaur to have a class on how to use chalk paint at one of 247 Art Haus’s events, so she is currently putting together an event in which people can bring in a small piece of furniture and learn the techniques vital to using chalk paint.
“Some people asked us if we would do spoken word and I was like, ‘yeah, I’m into going into any media of artwork,’” said Niederaur.
For more information on 247 Art Haus, visit www.247arthauspaintnit.wix.com/mysite or email Niederaur at firstname.lastname@example.org.