Three and a half years ago, a local couple took their passion for art and opened a gallery in the old Superior City Hall. This fall marked the grand opening of their second store in the 121-year-old building located on Hammond Avenue in Superior, Wis.
Tami and Dan Edmunds are artists from Duluth, Minn. who live on a creative drive and a love for personal expression. Their love for the old City Hall building was one of the reasons they decided to start their businesses in Superior and not in Duluth. The old marble still lines the bathrooms, the stairs, and the entryway. The vendors there have just given the historic building a “face lift.”
“Dan and I started in this small space with only our art,” Tami said. “We then added 53 new artists to the bigger gallery.”
On one end of the building is the Edmunds’ ART in the Alley bead store. This store is a large marketplace for other artist’s pieces of work. Dan and Tami contribute their own work too, but it has become more of a place for local artists to showcase and contribute fair trade jewelry, hats, purses, scarves, clothing, frames, candles and a variety of unique home décor items.
“It just happened serendipitously,” Tami said. “I was thinking about it and people started coming into my life.”
On the opposite end of the old building is their recently added clothing boutique filled with unique pieces of clothing made by Tami and about a half a dozen other fashion designers. The space used to be the old Chief of Police’s office when the building was the City Hall.
The clothing store is filled with unique, one-of-a-kind pieces. Tami refers to the clothing as her “canvas” that she gets to remake and revamp. Tami, who used to be a fashion designer for Maurices, takes old t-shirts and makes them into new designs. The t-shirts are cut up and embellished onto jackets, sweaters, and other shirts.
“We start off with a finished garment and then add to it,” Tami said.
All the beads that Tami uses are wholesale from a local bead store. The rings, necklaces, bracelets, and belts are colorful pieces of art that make a statement.
“Everything is one-of-a kind, handmade, hand designed and recycled,” said Tami, who was wearing an outfit and jewelry she made herself.
Tami’s daughter, Gwen LaPole, works in the store on Saturdays when she isn’t too busy being a high school student who is also involved in three sports.
“Everywhere you look there is something different,” LaPole said.
Dan’s gallery and studio had been in the building for nine years before he and Tami opened their stores together. He has been doing pottery for close to 20 years. His most recent art is fused glass.
Sitting on the glass display case in the Edmunds’ bead store is a blue glass plate. Dan made the plate by layering glass and melting it into a mold. Sitting on top of the plate is a large spoon and fork decorated with blue beads. Tami crafted the utensils to match the plate and become a set. The expression of the plate and utensils represents much of what the Edmunds do, collaborate.
The local artists involved are “consignment artists” and they get a percentage of the sales when their art sells. Every piece of art has a tag on it with the name of the artist on it. The flowing silk scarves have tags, the handcrafted wire and bead jewelry have tags, the fabric purses with stitched flowers and bows have tags; the whole store is a mixture of brilliant artists work.
“It is the trading hub of the city,” Tami said. “It is always growing, thriving, and expanding.”