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Milwaukee's Daily Magazine for Thursday, April 24, 2014

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In Marketplace

After a year-long renovation, the gallery is spacious and well lit.

In Marketplace

Farm Girl Art and Antiques owner Lisa Goldner was a bit of a farm girl herself, once upon a time.

In Marketplace

Farm Girl takes over a part of the Bern Office Systems building.

Farm Girl offers fresh crop of antiques, art pieces


Antique dealer and artist Lisa Goldner grew up in rural Wisconsin. "Where there's chickens and that kind of stuff," she says. This background has undoubtedly influenced the owner of Farm Girl Art and Antiques, 803 S. 5 St., who likes to display primitive farm items, among many other things, in her Walker's Point gallery.

Goldner got her start collecting when she was seven or eight years old at flea markets near where she grew up in Muskego. She began with cigarette tins because she liked the old graphics on them and because the metal was appealing.

Goldner's parents also had a home full of antiques, and many of their friends didn't understand why. People would come to the house and say to Goldner's mother, "Oh, Sandra, maybe George will get a good job and you can get new furniture."

"They just didn't get it," Goldner says.

An antique dealer "off and on for 20 years," Goldner has also been busy with her four kids and her design work. She has a degree in Art and Design from UW-Milwaukee. With Farm Girl open three days a week, Goldner is even busier.

The days that Goldner isn't at Farm Girl, she's next door at Bern Office Systems, where she's an interior designer. Goldner's husband and his brother bought Bern from their grandfather and his brothers. Goldner has worked at Bern for 20 years.

Even though it's the family business, Goldner says that it was hard to get the space for Farm Girl from Bern because they used it for warehousing. But she persisted, and after a year of renovations, Farm Girl opened December 4, 2010.

Although Goldner personally likes "old farm things," there's a lot more to see in eclectic displays throughout the gallery. Goldner says you'll find many "pretty things" in the store, such as hand painted cups. "Those are a work of art in themselves," Goldner says.

Farm Girl will rent spaces to dealers and artists and also takes consignments.

Opening an antique gallery had always been something Goldner wanted to do. "Everybody thinks, 'Well, the economy is bad, why would you do this now?' But I had nothing to lose and the timing was good," she says.

Goldner's four kids had reached that critical age that gave her more free time and can now even help out in the gallery. Goldner's mother had also wanted to open a gallery, but she died before realizing this dream, so Goldner has an image of her mother sitting on a horse on the Farm Girl business cards, with the slogan "Where Creativity Grows" printed beneath.

"I feel she's a part of it that way," Goldner says.

Goldner wants to make visiting the gallery an experience for all who come in, not just a store, but a place with creative displays for people to walk around and enjoy. Goldner has found the visitors to her gallery to be interesting, they've almost always engaged in good conversation, and she likes seeing what happens when they interact with her space.

"Some people get memories of grandparents, others are inspired from the objects in here. People seem to come in waves. People who miss parents / grandparents will all come in a row; one week, all these different, creative people came in -- how does that work?" says Goldner.

Goldner puts something new out on the gallery floor everyday. She travels frequently, bringing in items she believes people will like, often also using a personal buying criterion.

"If I think something will look good in my house, then I'll buy it -- because if people don't, that's probably where it will end up," Goldner says.

As an artist, Goldner's medium varies. She has done a lot with paper, including paper dolls, and is currently sculpting in a collage format, assembling reclaimed pieces to create new objects. She has an unfinished piece in her artist's workshop in the gallery that is made up of a doll's head and torso, an ornate hat and a wire dress, the dress partly left open to expose a bird's nest and egg underneath.

Other art currently on display include window paintings by Vivian Rad and landscapes by local artist Ann Powell. Goldner has Powell's mixed with older oil paintings on the wall because she feels the old and new paint are different and look interesting together.

Another artist in Farm Girl is Jean Elliot, who also does collage work, such as decorative pin cushions. Goldner met the artists whose work is on display in her gallery at shows over the years. Farm Girl now takes up a lot of the time Goldner used to have for art shows.

"Business has been great. It's always a miracle, everyday I open and people come in -- it blows me away. Whatever happens is amazing," Goldner says.


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