4415 N. Oakland Ave.
Milwaukee Wisconsin 53211United States
This cheery, affordable little boutique offers artistic treasures for the environmentally conscious art lover -- 95 percent of the pieces are made from recycled materials.
Since March 2011, this tiny Shorewood storefront has been abuzz with artsy activity. The Hummingbird Art Boutique showcases the work of more than 30 artists, most of them local. From jewelry to paintings to bronze sculpture, there's something for every kind of art lover -- and 95 percent of the pieces are repurposed or recycled from other materials. You'll find fashionable purses made from skirts and dresses or old book covers. Paintings surrounded by old window frames share space with surprisingly attractive jewelry made from newspaper, and toothy fish are fashioned from driftwood. Even bottle caps get a second life --they're turned into tiny works of art -- some painted with Packer logos! An old sewing-machine-turned-display-table holds "Honest Clean" cosmetics. Owners Leslie Spencer and Leslie Phillips ("We're known around here as the Leslies!" says Spencer) had relationships with a few artists already, but when they put a notice out on Craig's List to find more, they got a tremendous response. "We have a waiting list now," Spencer says. Although it's small, the space feels light, airy and unpretentious. "We really wanted it to be approachable and affordable," says Spencer, who takes time to chat with customers as they browse. She's a woodworking artist, photographer and physical therapist. "I always wanted to own my own shop, but I thought maybe a PT clinic or a restaurant," she says. When Phillips, a massage therapist, asked her to partner up and open an art store, it seemed to make sense. "I do the books and the finance end," Spencer says. Phillips, meanwhile, focuses on producing her art -- ceramic tiles, recycled print materials, mixed media -- and working with the other artists who display their work in the shop. The pair takes care to select artists who offer something unique, so that each one can be successful, and customers will have a wide variety of pieces from which to choose.