From Flower to Frames

downtown Eau Claire florist relocates flower shop, makes way for the opening of new art gallery

photos by Andrea Paulseth

Now open: The Brent Douglas Artist Gallery at 224 North Dewey Street. Left to right: Owners Brent Stelzer and Nika Schwarz with Manager Dave Cramer.
 
Now open: The Brent Douglas Artist Gallery at 224 North Dewey Street. Left to right: Owners Brent Stelzer and Nika Schwarz with Manager Dave Cramer.

Brent Douglas: Flowers For Everyday has always somewhat defied description as merely a “florist.” Since the business opened in 2004, owner Brent Stelzer and his staff have won the loyalty of a solid customer base and have secured top floral honors in both the 2010 and 2011 Volume One Reader Polls. With whimsical arrangements, decorative oddities, and attention-demanding conversation pieces, the shop is simply unique. These factors and consistent quality helped the business outgrow its original space at 224 North Dewey St. and relocate to an impressive new space at 610 South Barstow earlier this year. 

“The flower shop was bursting at the seams,” says Stelzer. “We needed to move but we were sad to leave our original home empty.”

  
This affinity for his first location, plus the hope to help other local creative minds experience similar success, has resulted in the newly opened Brent Douglas Artist Gallery. The collaborative vision of Stelzer and his sister/business partner Nika Schwarz, the original shop has been extensively redesigned and the Brent Douglas brand expanded to put the business at the front of the Chippewa Valley’s much-publicized arts and cultural landscape. 

Conceived with the intent to strengthen the community’s creativity and to promote collaboration, the Gallery’s mission is simple. “Our main goal is to give an outlet for artists to grow, promote themselves, and make a living with their art,” says Stelzer. “We thought artists would love to be involved … and the people of Eau Claire would enjoy more of the visual arts in the downtown.”

Renovating the previous shop into the new gallery was a task for which the Brent Douglas staff had plenty of experience. Upon selecting the Dewey Street location seven years ago, the building was an empty shell that required a rich imagination to transform. Stelzer credits employee and new Gallery Manager Dave Cramer for much of the hard labor involved with the project. Gone are the counters, the coolers, and the famous bathtub aquarium, and instead replaced by display tables draped in fabrics and pots of tasteful greenery. The creatively redesigned lighting fixtures, vast white walls, and hardwood floors maintain the elegant minimalism necessary for any featured artwork to remain the focus.

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