After spending years designing kitchens and handcrafting cabinets, John Barlowe opened Frame Shop Art Gallery & Gifts to celebrate and showcase great household art. A member of the Professional Picture Framers Association, he's won awards for his custom-frame designs, which pair his meticulous woodworking skills with elements such as football skin to accent displayed pieces. As a premier partner of Larson-Juhl, he has access to thousands of ornate American hardwood borders and gilded moldings crafted with more than 100 years of company expertise. Each artwork or photograph squeezes between Tru Vue glass and Bainbridge mats and backboard, a sandwich framers can often complete in as little as 24 hours.
In addition to displaying art, John and his team specialize in various photo services, from printing images to transforming ordinary snapshots into caricatures or watercolors with artistic photo treatments. They also prevent boxes of family photos from falling victim to age, disasters, and swamp monsters’ thumbprints by digitizing large collections.
Staff Size: 1 person
Average Duration of Services: 2–4 hours
Brands Used: Arches Coldpress Watercolor Board, Cotman Watercolor paints
Pro Tip: No experience required. I put the sketch on the watercolor board.
The folks at YouCanBeAnArtist.com believe wholeheartedly that anyone can create a masterpiece. During classes, teachers lead students through a series of steps to produce colorful paintings. Subject matter ranges from flowers to the classic Starry Night painting. The staff encourages students to bring along snacks and drinks to enjoy during the three-hour classes.
Across the 3-mile track at The Mud Dog Challenge, racers must contend with a host of novel obstacles. In addition to a circuit of mud-pit runs and crawls, the Challenge tests its intrepid runners with stacked tires, balance beams, tunnels, and pits. Walls impede runners in various forms, including 5-footers that require free-form clearing, 8-foot walls with ladders to assist in scaling, and walls that only can be surmounted via a cargo net.
The roar of rushing of water echoes through the towering walls of Splash Bay Water Park, where slides, rivers, and pools stretch across a 35,000-square-foot indoor facility. Kiddie pools ripple with whippersnappers clambering upon play structures and tumbling off giant lily pads, and inner tubes careen down a lazy river. After snaking and weaving riders across the rafters, three lofty slides fire their passengers out into pools below, and adults can lounge under a warm waterfall pouring into the giant hot tub.
Red Cross–certified lifeguards survey the scene all the while, quick to blow whistles at horseplay or beluga whales that have snuck through the hot-tub jets. On the upper deck, a snack bar peddles snacks and drinks, and arcade games glimmer, hum, and dole out prizes. Dried off guests can take advantage of the park's onsite hotel, complete with family suites and a restaurant.
The Survival Race’s 5-kilometer track challenges racers to navigate a gauntlet of mud-laden terrain. Staggered waves of up to 300 runners each conquer military-style obstacles, wade through murky water, and slide through muddy trenches before reaching the finish line to celebrate at a shindig awash with delicious eats and smitten swamp monsters. Afterward, a Facebook album aids online nostalgia by showcasing dirt-caked athletes and their marshy feats.