There are no mistakes, only happy accidents. ~ Bob Ross
The Peaks Paint Bar is one of the newest venues on Main Street, offering a paint-and-sip experience right in the heart of Lake Placid. The venue, formerly Moon Tree Design, pays homage to the natural beauty of the Adirondacks, the rich Olympic heritage, and the region's thriving arts community. The night I attended with my husband, Chris, the select painting was a wintry scene of Whiteface Mountain. For date night, we were both excited to paint something that held so much significance to us. Chris and I have spent countless days and nights hiking, biking, and skiing on Whiteface, so having the opportunity to paint a meaningful keepsake for our home certainly separated this paint night experience from others we have attended previously. Other people who live in or visit the Adirondacks will likely feel the same way.
Chris and I are not particularly artistic, so we initially felt overwhelmed. However, our anxiety quickly subsided once we met our instructor, Ismael Rodriguez. He greeted us at the bar and served us our complimentary drinks, or as he likes to call them, "performance-enhancing beverages." Then we went to our seats and started socializing with our artistic neighbors. As we all started settling into the cozy atmosphere, Ismael took the stage. He guided us through our materials and the first steps while keeping us on our toes with his hilariously witty jokes. After our first instruction to paint the outline of the water in blue, the song "Let It Go" from the movie Frozen played overhead. The theme of the night was not to take things too seriously, and with Ismael's infectious energy, it was easy to oblige.
About halfway through the experience, there was a short intermission to allow for the paint to dry before adding the trees to the scene.
Chris and I passed the time at the ping-pong table, while others sat and read from books on artists like Van Gogh or took in the artwork around the studio. Before we sat down to finish our pieces, Ismael shared the uplifting story behind The Peaks Paint Bar.
The journey to Lake Placid
Ismael and Rodelyn Rodriguez are the couple behind The Peaks Paint Bar, and they are the epitome of relationship goals. When Ismael retired after almost 30 years in the human services field and as an educator, Rodelyn told him, "You need to be doing art, or you won't be happy." Ismael is a lifelong and accomplished artist who attended the famed Fiorello H. LaGuardia High School of Music & Art and Performing Arts in Manhattan, which gave him the foundation to pursue a bachelor's in fine arts. Ismael has held several exhibitions over the years and his work is currently featured at the Negro League Baseball Museum in Kansas City, Missouri. How Ismael learned about Lake Placid requires going back to his childhood.
Ismael was born in Puerto Rico, but eventually, he moved to the Bronx with his 4 brothers after years of going back and forth between the two locations. One of the challenges of moving to mainland America was learning the English language. Sports on television and the radio helped him immensely with this challenge. During this ritual, Ismael became fascinated by the sport of ice hockey. He started to follow the New York Rangers and Islanders when he learned about the 1980 Olympics happening in New York State. However, the games weren't being held in the city that he knew and called home. Instead, they were being held upstate in a small Adirondack town called Lake Placid. As a newly devoted hockey fan, Ismael tuned into the famed USA/USSR sem-final game at the ripe age of 13. After that pivotal moment in sports history, Lake Placid became a pilgrimage of sorts for many people, including Ismael.
After many years, the universe guided him back to Lake Placid. When Ismael turned 40, he set out to learn to swim. As a former professional baseball player, Ismael was naturally athletic and picked it up quickly. Not long after, he completed the New York City Triathlon in 2008 and his first Ironman in 2011. Lake Placid Ironman is the second oldest Ironman, after the Hawaii Ironman in North America, and is one of the sport's most beloved courses. Ismael found himself back in the village that inspired him as a teenager, but this time, it was different. Rodelyn told her husband, "This is your happy place, so let's look for a place here." This statement planted the seed for the couple retiring in the Adirondacks.
In 2021, the couple found a house in Jay and made the dream a reality. But once again, Rodelyn became Ismael's guiding light. She said, "We are not going to just retire; we are going to build something special." The Peaks Paint Bar is the result of their collective dreaming. Rodelyn herself, is a business owner and co-owns a medical spa in Scarsdale, NY. Her business sense and Ismael's artistic and teaching talents combined to create something special. In 2022, they found the space on Main Street and started building. When they couldn't find a contractor, the couple worked all summer tirelessly, and they were often covered in cement and drywall dust. Ismael credits his wife with creating and designing the space. On November 2022, they finally opened their doors, and the results are nothing short of magical.
I didn't get to meet Rodelyn during my visit, but the gratitude and graciousness Ismael spoke about his wife made it clear to me just how exceptional she is, both as an individual and as a team player in marriage. Rodelyn continues to keep the dream alive because every weekend, she commutes 4-plus hours from her medical spa in Scarsdale to their home in Jay. Ismael calls his wife "a wonderfully dynamic and enterprising human," and I can't help but feel inspired by their relationship and the magical place they created.
The final product
After listening to Ismael and Rodelyn's story, I was feeling good vibes with an extra dose of inspiration. My paint was dry, and I was ready to finish my painting. All that I needed to add to the canvas were evergreen trees and their reflections on the water. Once I was happy with my creation, I smiled with satisfaction. My painting was far from perfect, but I remembered the Bob Ross quote Ismael shared at the beginning of the class, "There are no mistakes, only happy accidents."
To sign-up for your own paint-and-sip experience at The Peaks Paint Bar, check out the event schedule here for a lineup of their upcoming paintings! All sessions include a beverage and all supplies. A full bar is available for additional drink purchases as well as tasty snacks.