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Architect to Artist: Michelle Lewis Gets Creative Juices Flowing

Painting with a Twist, one of the latest urban lifestyle crazes sweeping the nation from coast to coast, has landed in the Detroit metropolitan area. The concept, which is the brainchild of the Corks N Canvas franchise, is one that is long overdue for emerging local artists, veteran painters and those who just want to explore their inner Picasso.

The business’s proprietor Michelle Lewis, explains the experience. “We encourage those who enjoy art — or are seeking a new, fun and unique activity — to explore their creative side. … We afford both veteran and novice painters alike the ability to either recreate an original piece by a local artist, or occasionally recreate a piece by a famous artist.” The “twist” is that participants are encouraged to bring along their favorite wine as well as appetizers of their choosing. What a novel idea, to literally get those creative juices flowing.

Lewis, a native Detroiter, holds a bachelor’s degree in architecture from Tuskegee University. The architect-turned-entrepreneur says she was inspired to establish the business while in New Orleans following Hurricanes Katrina and Rita — proving the age-old adage that inspiration can come from anywhere.

“I was working with several architecture firms in the Detroit area at the time of Hurricanes Katrina and Rita. The opportunity arose for me to temporarily move down to New Orleans and help with the recovery effort,” Lewis explains. “I happened to come across a local Painting With a Twist studio and I was instantly hooked. I knew the concept was something that would work for me back home in Detroit.”

No doubt. Metro Detroiters embraced the concept and only two years after opening her doors, Lewis has seen a 200 percent increase in sales. And although it is ahead of schedule, Lewis has opened a second studio in downtown Farmington.

But Lewis’ success is not merely the result of her acute attention to business trends and her business savvy, she is also a major advocate of community responsibility and civic duty, as evidenced by her five-year stint in hurricane-ravaged New Orleans. Lewis is also the recipient of the 2011 Spirit of Detroit Award, along with many other business and civic honors.

“The recognition is good, but my true joy is in seeing the positive effect this has on people. … We are really giving people something special here and I get to be a part of it,” she concludes.–roz edward

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