Milwaukee artist plans children's book before retiring
MILWAUKEE (CBS58) -- A tiny corner building on West Lincoln Ave. advertises appliances on the outside, but art fills its walls when you walk inside.
"Well, the city wanted too much money to take them down. Confuses a lot of people, but it's still there, hence the oddities," Meri Berghauer said.
Berghauer, a Milwaukee native, opened "Art N Oddities" in the former appliance store two decades ago.
"I wanted an anchor," she explained. "So, the family appliance business gave me a home, and after my father-in-law passed away, we scratched the used appliances out and it became the studio. So, I've been here for 20 years."
From paintings of wildlife to goblets, dozens of kites, and lotus flower lamps, the store is quite the sight.
"As you can kind of see, all seasons live at the same time in this building," Berghauer said about a Halloween decoration of a cat that lives year-round in the store.
It is a unique place for one unique woman.
"There is a story with the name. My mom spelled it that way because she thought it would be neat as a signature at the bottom of a painting," Berghauer said.
Berghauer has been in the Milwaukee art scene for over 40 years, dipping her brush in many different colors over four decades.
"I have always been interested in art. But I was one of those that didn't color inside the lines of the coloring book. I much preferred white paper to do my own thing. Whether it was coloring, painting, or building things, I've always done that," she said. "I worked for a novelty candy company for a while, illustrated some kid's book for ideals publishing, done beasties, just a little bit of everything."
Illustrating children's books was a passion Berghauer discovered in the 80s when she worked on a few.
"Isadore the Dinosaur, Myrtle the Turtle, Penny the Penguin. They published the books in France, so I have them in multiple languages as well as English."
It is a love she is planning to revisit.
"I just loved every minute of it, and that's why I'm trying to get together to get another one together," she said.
This time, the story will be her own, with her beloved dog "Da Vinci" as the main character.
"I'm a dragon person, and my daughter has a little black dog, Klaus. Her dog is just a terror, and I want to do Da Vinci in the garden meeting a dragon named Klaus," she explained. "I'm still working on the storyline and all that. But I'm using things around my garden."
Berghauer tells CBS 58 she is considering retiring sometime shortly, but until then, she will continue working on her book and trying to find a publisher.
"My art has provided me with a variety of things. I've never going to be rich and famous, I have a feeling, but I sure have had a good time," she said.
For more information on "Art N Oddities," visit their website.