Wednesday, April 15, 2009

Interview: "Upcycled Art Auction" @ Interior Systems, Inc.

By Peggy Sue
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          Interior Systems, Inc., now located on the sixth floor of 241 North Broadway, grew into the 'greatest décor and seating company in the world' because owner Lindsey Bovinet imagined his dream. Beginning in 1979 with Bovinet's $500 that he invested in the business after college, ISI now designs and manufactures furniture for restaurants, retail and educational markets⎯including McDonald's corporation and their Solid Gold McDonald's on Greenfield's South 76th Street. Now President and CEO of the corporation, Bovinet doubles as a working artist using ceramics and sculpture for his chosen mediums of expression. This interest in creativity inspired the "Upcycled Art Auction" his employees introduced one year ago on Milwaukee's Gallery Night. The event features bracelets made from vinyl seating materials, necklaces constructed from excess hardware and tile, and belts fashioned from laminate…along with other pieces to merely admire. Senior Marketing Coordinator for ISI Jennifer Torres explains more about this benefit for the Hunger Task Force of Milwaukee on Friday, April 17, from 5:00-9:00 p.m., or as she says, "until the party ends."

1.What exactly is the "Upcycled Art Auction?"

This is the brainchild of one of our interior designers, Karen Gasparick, who has been the driving force behind this project. Our main goal, because the green movement is still growing, was that we wanted to find a way to use all the scraps that were being thrown out: fabrics, vinyl, tile and laminate.

2. So the fine art that your employees create is made from these production remnants?

Yes, they use Escrap, or pieces that are cast off from any projects. We do recycle as much as possible but some of the materials don't lend themselves to being recycled. The side benefit of the project helped develop a sense of community between all our employees by working on something that's benefiting the greater good.

3. Then what art is included in your auction on Gallery Night?

We actually asked all the artists that 90 percent of their materials used [for artwork] had to be scrap from our manufacturing or office facilities. This year we have 35 pieces of artwork in the auction, with some artists doing multiple pieces....Quite a few mixed media pieces that will be displayed throughout our office area, which was also recently renovated....this includes sculptures, wall hangings, paintings, wearable art. It is amazing to see the level of creativity from people you wouldn't expect to see that from. The owner has done so much to make this a creative environment.

4. When does the art auction begin?

It's a juried exhibition and we have jurors from the community that award 'Best in Show' and "Runner-Up' at about 1:00 p.m. that afternoon. We announce the winners when the show opens at 5:00 p.m. Then for all the pieces in the show there's a silent auction with estimated starting values of $10.00….a great opportunity to get a really nice piece if you're a beginning collector. The 'Best in Show' piece is a live auction item that happens at 8:30 p.m. Friday night. Then all the auction winners from the evening will be entered in for the grand prize drawing, which is new this year, a weekend getaway for two at Moondance Bed and Breakfast Inn in Fond du Lac…And you can also see the art collection chosen by the owner on display throughout the office!

5. How much money do you raise?

Last year we raised over 1500 dollars for the Hunger Task Force of Milwaukee, and we'd like to contribute maybe double or triple that amount. It's all local and the contributions stay in Milwaukee. We're committed to doing this art show every Spring Gallery night. There's free food and beverages and great company⎯a good mix of art appreciators and professionals that come to the auction. It's amazing what you can do with materials once you have a sustainable mindset.


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