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by FAYTHE LEVINE
Co-owner of the Paper Boat Boutique & Gallery {printed in Art Bureau 12}

UPDATE 2009: PAPER BOAT SINKS... As of May 31, 2009, Paper Boat Boutique & Gallery will be closing its doors after 4 great years of being open. The article below was originally published in 2006.

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While working together in my studio, Kim Kisiolek and I realized that there was a lack of accessible space for supporting independent artists, crafters and designers in Milwaukee, WI. So, in June of 2005, Paper Boat Boutique & Gallery opened its doors. Within the first year, the 425 square foot shop proved to be too small and we expanded into a larger space—1200 square feet—only two doors down.

In its new location (2375 S. Howell Avenue), the Paper Boat currently consigns over 175 artists’ and designers’ works from around the country and overseas. The retail items for sale vary from pottery and rugs to zines and art books, artisan jewelry to hand-screened patches.

Upon our expansion, we acquired a much more substantial gallery space. In the old shop, we hung artwork mixed in with our merchandise. Now, we are able to hang our shows in their own gallery space. The gallery is a big priority—Milwaukee misses out on so much emerging visual art—and I am very excited to be able to bring in artists such as Jill Bliss, Katy Horan and Amy Rice, to name a few.

As the gallery curator, I am interested in showing work that utilizes traditional media in non-traditional ways, as well as pieces that blur the line between art and craft. For instance, in the future we will be showing Kate Bingaman’s obsessive consumption drawings. She uses pen and ink to draw her monthly credit card bills and receipts. Another show will be of Cassie Smith’s work with taxidermy and sequins. Gallery shows rotate about every six weeks.

By reputation and word of mouth, our shop now gets up to 20 consignment submissions per week. Although the flow of submissions is steady, we continue to look for new work on our own. The hunt is what keeps us motivated. When considering work for the space, we consider quality, style and originality.

The Paper Boat’s main goal is to not only keep up the level of quality, creativity and inspiration within the boutique and gallery, but also to maintain an unpretentious and accessible community space that supports all artists and small craft businesses. We support those who choose to stay “independent” by making their own “in-house/studio” works, and who maintain the DIY ethics of self-distribution by selling their work at craft fairs, farmers markets and through non-corporate stores.

For more information about consignment and gallery submissions, or to view the gallery calendar, please visit Paper Boat Boutique.

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Faythe Levine is co-owner of the Paper Boat Boutique & Gallery, works creatively under the moniker Flying Fish Design, coordinates Art vs. Craft and is the producer and director of the Indie Craft Documentary.

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Tags: Faythe Levine, Handmade Nation, Paper Boat Boutique

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