When Kelly Cannizzaro attended a class at Wauwatosa's Arté Wine & Painting Studio in November, she fell in love. The then-marketing professional attended an instructor-led class alongside her sister, Jessie, at the studio, 1442 Underwood Ave., in the Village of Wauwatosa.
"We came in to take a peak," said Cannizzarro, a Hartland native, adding she "was into art growing up." The sisters each created an autumn-themed painting that turned out vastly different, despite the same instruction.
It wasn't long before Cannizzaro knew she wanted to buy the business.
She had been aware that the owner, Lisa Allen, wanted to sell the business and devote more time to travel. Cannizzaro partnered up with an organization called SCORE, which helps small-business people across the country. She worked with business advisers and the studio's previous owner to step into the ownership role over the course of several months.
The business officially changed hands Aug. 4 without ever closing its doors during the transition. The first day that Cannizzaro was in charge, a wild storm blew through Wauwatosa, shutting off power at the studio. A few die-hard painters stuck it out, though, and completed their paintings in the dark, said Cannizzaro, excitedly showing photos from that evening on her cell phone.
Cannizzaro said the studio looks just about the same as it did under the previous ownership, with richly-colored walls, plenty of paint-soaked easels and completed paintings hanging around the space. The new owner said she plans to maintain the same overall look and vibe moving forward.
Outlook on the Village
The painting studio and bar offers independent painting classes where attendees can follow written instructions and instructor-led, step-by-step classes, Cannizzarro said. Participants can check out the class calendar online, to see which paintings will be available on each day. The studio staffs about 15 part-time employees, and the artists are all trained, or are currently enrolled, in art school.
Of course, drinks are sold, too.
Cannizzaro said she has a number of completed paintings in her home, but limits herself to "one nail" near her front door. She switches out the painting weekly.
In some ways, purchasing the business is a lot like coming home, said Cannizzaro. For many years, her father, Tom, operated TJ Plumbing on Harwood Avenue. The business, now named Milestone Plumbing Inc. and owned by his other daughter, Jessie, has recently moved to a new location on Ripley Avenue.
The Village has changed a lot since the days when Cannizzaro used to walk through the streets to visit her dad's business, she said. Now, Cannizzaro said she views the Village area as an up-and-coming destination, with updates through the ongoing streetscape project only adding to the allure.
A few, small changes
There are a couple aspects Cannizzaro is looking to change, including updates to the menu.
The business features a bar near one end of the studio and Cannizzaro said she hopes to promote that aspect a bit more; Arté Wine and Painting Studio is also available for those who want to stop in for a drink and skip the painting.
She hopes to incorporate new "trendy" drinks while keeping some of the favorites. And Cannizzaro does have an extensive background in the restaurant industry; she's been a waitress in Delafield and a bartender at a spot on Okauchee Lake. She said she's excited to bring that experience to the bar management aspect of the studio.
Beginning Aug. 9, Arté Wine and Painting Studio will offer happy hour specials every Tuesday, featuring 50 percent off bottles of featured wine and $3 beers. Dogs are welcome from noon to 6 p.m. Sundays on the patio for "Yappy Hour." Mimosas and Bloody Marys for $5 will be served.