At the Sip & Dipity Paint Bar, customers take home not just a completed art project, but experiences and memories.
Tracy Tackett, the owner and founder of the paint bar, calls it a “social art-working studio,” to emphasize that the art projects aren’t just decorative, but create the networking and camaraderie her customers enjoy. A skilled artist leads each group, showing them step-by-step how to make a painting of a scene, while encouraging a time of social interaction, often with some liquid stimulation.
“This is not a class, it’s a party,” Tackett says. “We believe everyone is an artist in their own way. You leave your problems at the door and get lost in a project.”
Before starting Sip & Dipity, Springfield native Tackett had worked for several years in corporate and non-profit marketing but was eager to start a different kind of enterprise for Springfield.
“I love unique ideas that we can bring back to our community,” she says. “I wanted to bring in something new.”
Tackett found that spark when she first went to a painting-wine event in Cincinnati. She believed the idea would catch-on here and wanted to locate an old downtown building. Sip & Dipity opened in 2014 in a narrow storefront at 10 N. Fountain Ave., adjacent to the Bushnell Building.
Before the pandemic, Sip & Dipity had been busy, usually hosting 10 events a week and sometimes doing parties off-site. Tackett says 75 percent of her customers had come from out of town, driving in from Dayton, Columbus, Kentucky and elsewhere.
But as COVID-19 concerns have disrupted plans for in-person gatherings, Tackett has taken on a variety of other ventures: shipping artwork, such as wooden and glass door hangers; renting out large yard decorations for birthdays and other celebrations; and hosting online parties, where she sends someone a blank canvas, then posts a video showing how to paint a scene.
“It was my customers that saved Sip & Dipity. If I didn’t have them ordering things, I don’t know if we would have made it through.”
In recent weeks, the business has added the Painted Petals Flower Cart, a three-wheeled bicycle with a basket filled with fresh-cut flowers, which a teenager rides around downtown selling. Tackett also is busily preparing for a new business, Sip & Dipitees, which will sell T-shirts and other clothing in the Heritage Center space formerly used by Snow Cove.
Tackett maintains this frenzy of activity even as she and her husband, Mike, and 13-year-old son, Mason, have been dealing with the death last year of daughter Morgan, 19.
Morgan had suffered from epilepsy most of her life, having her first seizure when she was 2.
Morgan had thousands of seizures throughout her life and endured numerous hospital visits and medical procedures, which didn’t succeed in relieving her epilepsy. She tried hard to live her life to the fullest, graduating from Global Impact STEM Academy and being awarded a full scholarship to the Columbus College of Art and Design.
Tackett describes Morgan as a wonderful person who brought much joy into their lives, but says every day was a struggle between giving her freedom and keeping her safe. At night when she put her car in the garage, Tackett always would check the fuel gauge to be sure they had enough to get to the hospital in Columbus if necessary.
“When you have epilepsy, you’re never free,” Tackett says. “All she wanted was the opportunity to be like everyone else.”
Only a few days after graduating from Global Impact, Morgan took her own life and died on June 19, 2019. Tackett hopes to keep her daughter’s memory alive and educate people about issues around epilepsy and mental health by working with a local author on a book about Morgan.
Morgan’s ordeal has made them see the need for more resources devoted to mental health, especially for young people struggling with chronic pain and illness. She and Mike have raised donations for a fund started by Ohio State University coach Ryan Day that focuses on mental wellness for children and young adults – the Christina and Ryan Day Fund for Pediatric and Adolescent Wellness.
Tackett also has taken on this challenge by enrolling at Wittenberg University to earn a degree in organizational leadership so she can work on issues involving mental health and suicide. It’s just one more way she can pursue her passion of building up her community.
“You only get one life. Why get to the end and regret that I didn’t live my life my way? I want to say that I tapped into all the parts of me.”