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Thursday, May 21, 2009

Paper Boat’s Parting Gift

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An old, brick storefront graces the corner of Bay View's Smith Street and Howell Avenue. Paper Boat Boutique & Gallery opened there in 2005 to "support independent creativity" by showcasing national artists under the proprietorship of Kim Kisiolek and Faythe Levine. On May 31, Paper Boat's door closes forever.

During Paper Boat's four years on Howell, the boutique participated in Milwaukee's Gallery Nights, featured unique exhibitions by avant-garde artists, many working in the delicate paper medium, and consistently enriched the growing artistic community with their outside endeavors.

"This is a struggling time for visual artists. People are being more selective about what they buy," Levine says.

In hopes of selling more art to celebrate the boutique's four years, they are offering a 10% discount through May 17, at which point it will reach 20% through May 24. The discount climbs the week after that and again on the last day. A fine selection of art remains for purchase.

Kisiolek maintains a full-time position outside the boutique, and Levine is promoting her critically acclaimed film, Handmade Nation, which premiered last year. The movie, and a book by the same name that is now into its third printing, documents the nation's burgeoning DIY movement. Touring with her film and book the entire month of July, Levine will attend screenings at the Smithsonian Institution (Washington, D.C.) and London's Victoria and Albert Museum.

Following the closure of the store, Levine and Kisiolek will focus on this year's "Art vs. Craft" show in order to maintain their ties to the city's artistic family. Levine also has several free-lancing projects waiting in the wings, ready to take flight later this year.

Be sure to make one last visit before this boutique leaves Bay View-especially for the one-day sale on May 31, when every piece of art may be purchased at a 40% discount.

"This closing is bittersweet because Kim and I invested a lot of our lives into the store," Levine says. "But there's something to be said for wrapping things up when you're in a good place. We're very invested in our work here, but we have other things in our lives to do."

Another exclusive one-night-only event, Gas Money, features 12 artists with a Milwaukee connection, including Amy O'Neill, Bridget Griffith Evans, Eduardo J. Villanueva and Jeff Sadowski. They will be auctioning their work at Grava Gallery in the Historic Third Ward's Marshall Building on Friday, May 22, from 5 to 9 p.m. The event aims to raise funds to enable these artists to travel to other American cities this summer in an effort to promote the exhibit "It Came From Milwaukee."