History of the Building

The building was built in the 1830’s as the Newburgh Steam Mill, manufacturing cloth. The mill housed 17,000 spindles and employed over 300 workers. By the 20th century the steam mill factory shut down and was relocated. In 1881 the building housed Coldwell Lawnmower Co. The first lawn mower ever constructed in this country was built by Mr. Thomas Coldwell. Through the years, the building changed over to the Regal Bag Corporation, created by the company Licht and Kaplan. Regal Bag started in the handbag business with cutting patterns, assembling handbags and distributing to major retailers.

Our Story

In 1994, Joseph Forbes founded Scenic Art Studios, which has become the premier scene painting studio for Broadway shows. The company has painted more than 300 Broadway productions, including such shows as War Paint, Sunset Boulevard, and Hello, Dolly! which won the 2017 Tony Award for Best Revival of a Musical. Scenic Art Studios has developed a reputation for artistic excellence by employing some of the finest artists from the United Scenic Artists Local 829. We are proud to offer the highest level of craftsmanship in all fields of scenic art.  


Scenic backdrops and small props are painted in our 15,000 square foot studio located in Newburgh, NY. While we specialize in theatrical painting, we also work with multiple production shops in the Northeast painting the sets and installations they construct for film, television, and specialty venues. Be it softgoods, sculpture, scenery, onsite workcalls, or murals, we have the crew to fit your needs. 


Founder Joseph Forbes said, "Its been a wild ride. When I first started Scenic Art Studios, the core of the company was no more than three or four people. I had never really contemplated owning a shop, and if the company I was working for had not run aground, I never would have. I would not let my wife Deb, who is also a scenic artist, even get involved with the company because I felt like it was most likely going to crash and burn. I mean, I knew nothing about business. Now 25 years later, during the heart of the season say September to March we may have 50 scenic artists working in seven (7) different locations.  


To cope with that kind of volume, I am fortunate to have a team of talented professionals who do the real heavy lifting of keeping the company on track, even when I am gone for extended periods.  Two years ago I was blessed to have received a new heart, after experiencing a slow decline due to a failing heart. For my three months of recovery I was not allowed to work or even go into the office. During one of the busiest seasons we had ever experienced, Susan Jackson, Roberta Pinto, Laurie Schrader, and Donna Buser took over the management of the company. With the full support of not only the artists and staff of Scenic Art Studios, but the entire Broadway community as well, they provided that steady hand that kept the company functioning as if I had never left. It was a remarkable performance on everyones part and I will forever be in their debt. And did I mention that we have had two buildings burn down over the course of that 25 years? Oh, and then there was the flood. Like I said, it’s been a wild ride." 

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