[This article is the last in a five-part series profiling local dealers of used goods, in all their rich variety. Others in the series: North Shore Architectural Antiques, Sellers Auction, Retro Antiques, Central Sales.]
Tami LaPole Edmunds walks through her store and points out every piece of art, commenting and describing with passion.
“Those are just old castaway lamps, but you repaint the shade and it’s fabulous,” she says.
When the CD in the background begins skipping loudly she goes to its rescue, but she can’t help stopping to point out some jewelry while the jarring noise continues.
Here at Art in the Alley, Tami and her husband Dan Edmunds have created a home for the eclectic artist. The place has a feel to it that Tami describes as “whimsy.”
Art in the Alley sells art from more than 70 different artists. A lot of the art is repurposed and reused. Tami paints, designs clothing and makes jewelry. Dan does pottery and glasswork.
They started the place four years ago, selling their own art three days a week. Dan worked for his family business at that time.
“She had a kind of corporate job,” he says with a laugh.
Their current space became available in fall of 2010, and Dan says it took off from there. It required a bit of a push, though.
“I lost my job,” Tami says.
“We had it going, and I think the universe said OK, you’re done with your other jobs,” Dan says.
“Take the training wheels off,” Tami says.
The two of them are now full time, no training wheels to speak of.
Tami continues her journey through the store. She arrives in a room full of clothing, which she says is her favorite thing to make right now. Many of the items are jackets and sweaters that have been redesigned, reshaped, and redecorated with patches of other fabrics.
She’s wearing one of her own creations today.
“What I have on, I don’t know how many shirts are in this,” she says.
Tami points to a patch of flowery satin sewed onto another of her own jackets. This one is for sale on the clothing rack.
“I wore this to my 25-year class reunion,” she says. “This one I’m sad I cut, ‘cause summer’s coming and it’s this beaded tank top … and now I’m like, ‘Shit, I shouldn’t have cut it up.”
Dan wanders into the clothing section and overhears her lament.
“We’ve gotta make a living, honey,” he says jokingly. “We’ve gotta cut up your clothes, I’m sorry. Times are tough.”
It’s not just the clothes that are cut up and recycled. Tami paints over old paintings instead of buying new canvases. Dan makes art out of old silverware.
“A lot of repurposing and turning things you wouldn’t think of into works of art,” Tami says. “Not wasting anything.”
Maria Combs, a local artist, makes sweaters to sell at Art in the Alley.
“Every time I come in it’s different, she’s switched things around,” Combs says. “It’s always fresh.”
Dan and Tami both have art in their blood. Dan started doing pottery 20 or so years ago, in high school. He says he learned from a pottery teacher.
“He really kind of showed me that you can do something more with pots,” Dan says. “I got really inspired by that … I like the process of art, it really intrigued me.”
Tami says she started designing clothes at age five. She would get Barbie dolls and then ask if she could go to the store to buy fabric remnants.
“I would design and hand-stitch her clothing,” she says.
Tami’s grandma and mother were both artists, as were Dan’s grandma and father.
“You’re born an artist,” Tami says.
A painting by Dan’s grandmother hangs on the wall behind the counter. It’s not for sale.
Art in the Alley is participating in the Art for Earth Day Gallery Hop this Saturday, April 21, from 10 a.m. to 5 p.m.
Art in the Alley
912 Hammond Ave.
Superior WI 54880