Wiedenhoeft bridges the gap between artists and buyers
When Dutch painter Vincent Van Gogh died in 1890, he left this earth poor and virtually unknown. Stephanie Wiedenhoeft, who cites Van Gogh as one of her favorite artists of all time, does not want to see this happen to the many talented artists in Milwaukee.
"No more Van Goghs," she says.
And so, Wiedenhoeft started a consulting business last fall called Your Personal Art Consultant. Currently she represents about a dozen local artists – and a dozen more pending – whom she helps to sell their work to individuals for their homes, gardens and businesses.
Wiedenhoeft organized an event to showcase these artists – and more – called "Live Locally, Live Beautifully." It takes place on Saturday, Aug. 9 from 2 to 8 p.m. at 427 Green Bay Rd. in Thiensville.
Artists include Evelyn Patricia Terry, Pat Hidson, Christine Buth Furness, William Zuback, Frank Korb, Mary Mendla, Janet Hudachek, Paula DeStefanis, Pam Ferderbar, Jack Long, Natalia Novakovski, Beth Stoddard, Kathy Barnett, Margie David-Brown, Sonji Hunt, Joe Mendla, Lise Meissner and more.
Wiedenhoeft, who lives in Whitefish Bay, is also the curator of the 10th Street Gallery, located in the lobby for In Tandem Theatre Company, 628 N. 10th St.
As an art consultant, Wiedenhoeft goes into a client's home or office to view the space, take measurements and better understand what he or she is looking for. Then she shares a portfolio of artists' work that she thinks might be a match.
If the client is interested in seeing more, Wiedenhoeft sets up a private meeting with the artist – and usually a studio tour. The goal is for the person to buy a piece directly from the artist in which case Wiedenhoeft receives a commission.
Wiedenhoeft feels strongly about people making a connection with the artist as well as the piece of art.
"Having a personal interaction with the artists is so important. It makes the art even more meaningful to the buyer," says Wiedenhoeft. "And it's how you get someone from being a one-time buyer to a collector."
Wiedenhoeft enjoys working with people who would normally go to a big box store to buy art.
"I love to encourage people to buy from a local artists instead," she says. "Often times, people don't realize that for the same price they can find art that's original and meaningful."
Wiedenhoeft works with all genres, including photographers, painters, sculptures, fiber artists, felting artists, jewelers and fashion designers. She also serves as a liason between artists and galleries.
"I'm looking for artists with a strong voice," she says.
Wiedenhoeft was born and raised in Beaver Dam and fell in love with art at an early age. Her mother, a plein air painter, introduced her to many artists and art forms. She also volunteered at her school every year when Wiedenhoeft was a child and introduced the entire class to art.
Most notable was when she came to Wiedenhoeft's kindergarten classroom and shared "Where The Wild Things Are" as an example of excellent children's illustrations. After doing so, the class spontaneously broke into singing "Wild Thing."
"That's one of her – and my – favorite memories," says Wiedenhoeft.
Wiedenhoeft, who has a background in painting, theater and photography, was looking for a way to express her creativity after her son, who is now 3, got a little older. Like many women, she struggled to find the balance between motherhood, creativity and work.
To get her professional feet wet, Wiedenhoeft started working as a sales associate for her sister, a fine art felter who specializes in hat making. She traveled with her sister to San Francisco and worked in her booth during the Lakefront Festival Of the Arts.
"My sister told me she sold more hats than at any other show," says Wiedenhoeft. "Even though it was 95 degrees, I was popping hats on peoples' heads and selling them. It was the first time I thought I might have a knack for sales."
Wiedenhoeft recognizes that many artists are able to market themselves.
"There are a lot of artists who are doing a great job marketing their work and they don't need me along for the ride," she says. "For those who need it, I am here to connect the artist and the buyer. We have amazing artists in Milwaukee and beautiful artwork available and I'd like to see more people have a direct relationship with artists."
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