The newest business addition to Jasper’s Downtown Square is more about do-it-yourself fun than it is about the perfect gift or great eats.
Heather Zehr plans on opening StudioH the first week of June. Located next to Merle Norman, the studio offers painting parties and classes for special occasions and groups.
The premise is pretty simple; StudioH provides all the art supplies for the class as well as a bit of instruction for the participants. Guests will be able to paint on canvas or on specially shaped blanks like letters to create something unique in a fun, friendly and supportive atmosphere.
Refreshments will be available upon request and can include items from local shops like sweets from Mad Batter or ice cream from Libby’s located just a few doors down. She also plans on possibly doing lunch-and-learn classes from noon to two on some days featuring food from Sander’s Catering—her husband Alex’s business.
Fun gatherings could be planned around birthday parties for children, bridal showers, couples nights and girls nights out. Heather also plans on hosting special sessions throughout the week for anyone to sign up for which could be a good opportunity for people to make new friends and enjoy a new experience. Ultimately, it’s just about having fun with some creativity outside your comfort zone.
“I just want a place where people can come and forget about their crazy schedules and everything,” Heather said. “Then be able to say ‘hey, I did this,’ when they don’t think they have a creative side.”
She’s already been holding some practice sessions with friends and family in the studio. The common icebreaker floating around the room has been the question “what are you gonna paint?” As trepidation over the uncertainty clears up though, the participants pick up their brushes and just do it. Some are surprised with what they come up with.
“Someone brought in a picture of what she wanted to paint while another lady was just painting away and when they asked what she was doing, she just said ‘I don’t have any idea,’” Heather laughed. “And just painted away and it turned out really nice. But that’s what I want the place to be; just a fun place where people can create something that they didn’t think they could.”
Heather’s life brought her to this point through her love for architecture. Growing up in Newburgh she always wanted to be involved in architecture and was accepted into Ball State’s architecture program. But, early on she learned that she was more interested in interior design, an area her Ball State studies would not be touching on very extensively. She decided to transfer to the University of Cincinnati’s architecture program because it had more interior design-based instruction.
From Cincinnati, she was hired by a Dallas interior design firm. “I would say in Dallas is where I really found my passion and love for design because my eyes were opened to the huge world of design and culture that was out there,” she explained.
She worked there for about nine years before returning to Indiana where she worked for Kimball Hospitality and started her own interior design service.
The idea for the new business came after she got an itch to explore some other creative pursuits and was introduced to art therapy and then found other studios holding the community-driven classes and events. Painting is therapeutic for the 40-year-old. “I am just happy when I paint,” she said. “Not that I am good at it but I love doing it.”
Last fall, she began talking about opening the new business and even found a location in Haysville. However, that place fell through. Fortunately, a couple of weeks later, she learned about the location available on the Square. “I drove by and saw the rent sign and it all worked out,” Heather said.
The new business will host an open house on Saturday, June 3, during the Chalk Walk and then officially open Tuesday, June 6.
“I am looking forward to just meeting new people and having fun,” she said while adding she’s also looking forward to creating fundraisers through the new business by holding special painting events in which a portion of the proceeds will be given to a nonprofit or special need in the community. For now, Heather’s playing it by ear but said she would like to host a new fundraiser each month among her other classes and private events.
You can follow StudioH on Facebook for the classes and events Heather will host. Private parties can be scheduled by calling 812-630-5998. The studio is located at 609 Main Street on the Square. Costs vary depending on the type of painting offered but will range from $25 to $45.