Georgetown Studio Painting with a Purpose
by Ann Marie Ludlow
Bree McCleskey recently moved to Georgetown with a business plan and the desire to give back. This edgy artist and cheerful new owner of Painting With a Twist (PWAT) on S Rock Street has had ups and downs in her life, to the point of taking a job in a restaurant so she could bring leftovers home to feed her kids.
With that in mind, she has a special place in her heart for organizations and charities that focus on food insecurity and she plans to donate her resources to the residents of Georgetown and surrounding on a regular basis.
While in Rockwall, Bree and her mother took care of her great-grandfather. They cooked and cleaned and, over time, discovered many of his neighbors were hungry. Some could only afford to eat cat food or shared similar circumstances. Bree and her mom, for years, brought casseroles with them on their visits and helped several neighbors around the house. “Food charities are my thing and I give back to those at home. We kind of had our own Meals on Wheels thing going and it was eye-opening to see just how many people were in the same situation. No one in this country should have to be that hungry.”
Fast forward to 2016 when McCleskey was working at PWAT in Rockwall and was still giving back in her community on her own time. Her life changed when “Savannah” came into the store with some television cameras.
Here’s the twist. (Yes, we went there.)
Savannah was actually Renee Maloney, one of the co-founders of Painting With a Twist, and McCleskey was a featured employee on CBS “Undercover Boss.”
While tasking Savannah with a new painting, McCleskey explained that one of the downfalls of the job is creating new original artwork that the painters are not compensated for like commercial artists. While an employee, she had developed a series of animal pictures targeted at her younger audiences and although it made money for the company, there was no bonus or stipend for the artist. When the show was broadcast, Maloney noted that the practice needed to change.
At the conclusion of the show, Maloney awarded Bree a studio of her own. “This is only one of two studios in the whole company that is in a historical home. It is nearly 100 years old and I just love old and unusual things.”
Maloney also added her “animal cracker” paintings to the stable of PWAT artwork. The company now contributes a percentage of all royalties from the Rainbow Zebra across all 300 stores to Hunger Free America nationwide.
Now a resident of Georgetown, McCleskey says she is already familiar with the number and commitment of the charitable organizations the City is known for. “I really live by the ‘live here, give here; philosophy and I want to work with all the boots-on-the-ground organizations here.”
To illustrate her point, she has scheduled her first Painting with a Purpose Night to benefit Opportunities for Williamson & Burnet Counties Meals on Wheels program. There are 65 seats available on May 17 to paint “Sunflowers” and McCleskey is donating every dollar to the Meals on Wheels program, which serves hot, home-cooked, nutritious meals five days a week to hundreds of seniors in Sun City, Georgetown and Jarrell who are home-bound or able to visit their activity centers. McCleskey is also including some of her best artwork for guests to win as door prizes, and she will donate paintings for Opportunities to gift to clients when they deliver lunch.
Opportunities Senior Nutrition Director Denise Schilli is pleased to have been chosen for the first event and is glad to have an advocate in the efforts to ensure our neighbors are looked after. “People may not be aware of the number of folks locally who don’t know where their next meal is coming from. We know with our service, our seniors will get at least one healthy meal per day and our delivery volunteers provide a cursory well-check to our clients on a daily basis. Sometimes Meals on Wheels is the only contact a person has for the day and we’re proud to do it.”
Outside of special events, Painting with a Twist is open every night and can be reserved for parties. McCleskey has already done a party for Brookwood in Georgetown, home parties, and is looking forward to partnering with groups all over Georgetown. “The beauty of PWAT is that you don’t really need to be an artist to enjoy it. We show you how to get your best painting and you can bring your own adult beverages, sit with your friends, and you get to take your artwork home at the end of the night.”
The new Painting With a Twist is having a grand opening June 1 and McCleskey says she plans to have monthly Paint With a Purpose nights for all of Georgetown’s favorite non-profits. “It’s important to em to do it, to help and maybe even to inspire one more person to do it too.”
Visit PaintingWithATwist.com/events/viewevent.aspx?eventID=1111782 for the MOW event or a night out with friends.