A longtime dream of Angela Lensch is coming true: the jeweler, mosaic artist, sculptor and furniture maker who has called the Door Peninsula her home for more than ten years is opening her very own gallery.
“I’ve really poured my life into being an artist and for many artists – not all of them – the end result is to have your own shop,” explains Lensch, whose excitement is palpable as she moves about the new, bright space which showcases her multiple lines of woven jewelry and ornate, finely-crafted mosaics.
Her work is so varied, the space looks as though it hosts many artists, but Lensch has plans to showcase more.
“I’ve really networked with a handful of artists. I mean the gallery is full now with just my jewelry, but I have at least six, if not more artists that I’m going to try and squeeze in here. I just have to figure out how to fit everybody in,” laughs Lensch. “My dream continues with a potential expansion, but we’ll just see how this first year goes.”
It was just last year, during the winter of 2012/2013, that Lensch discovered the home she rented for four years in Egg Harbor was going up for sale. “I’ve become so attached to it and I love it and the location is wonderful and it’s in the school district for my son,” says Lensch. “And it’s always been a dream to open my own gallery. I needed to figure out if I could open a business out of this space, so I took a business course.”
She signed up for the Door County Economic Development Corporation’s Entrepreneurial Training Program, crunched the numbers, wrote a business plan, and won the program’s “Best Business Plan” award.
“The class was huge,” recalls Lensch. “It taught me that I have a core product, I have experience. It was really empowering to learn that after twelve years of living in Door County, I’ve really established myself as an artist and was ready to take the next step.”
Lensch first stepped onto the Door County art scene in 2002, after earning her BFA in Sculpture and Furniture from the Minneapolis College of Art and Design.
“I became one of the Emerging Artists in 2003 at the Peninsula School of Art and then I was assistant curator at the Common Ground show at The Hardy. That was an incredible experience,” recalls Lensch. “And then I waitressed and worked at various galleries and my work’s been at probably a dozen different galleries throughout the county the last twelve years.”
For the last five years, Lensch was the resident jewelry artist at Plum Bottom Pottery near Egg Harbor. “The experience was priceless and wonderful, it allowed me to really develop my current line of jewelry,” says Lensch.
Her current line features hand-woven gold and silver, laden with various materials including gemstones, pearls, crystals, wood, bone, and most recently, sari-wrapped beads.
“I use so many different materials, I was looking for fair trade beads to use in my work because I really wanted to support more of the fair trade movement and use my jewelry as a catalyst for change by education people,” explains Lensch. She came upon sari-wrapped beads, networked with the nonprofit Vatsalya in Jaipur, India, which invited her to teach a bead-making workshop to a woman artisan co-op.
For six weeks, Lensch traveled throughout northern India teaching workshops and learning more about India’s 5,000-year jewelry-making history. “It was such an amazing experience,” smiles Lensch, who received her first batch of sari-wrapped beads created without her instruction recently.
“Often fair trade is less expensive, kind of crafty, and I really wanted to put it up on a pedestal and showcase [sari-wrapped beads] by complementing them with crystals and pearls and gemstones and gold,” says Lensch. “So it’s really great to take fair trade that I helped develop and put them into fine art jewelry.”
Lensch also has a renewed interest in mosaic work. “I love the process, I love that I can take these broken pieces and use gemstones or rock or glass or tile or beads and put them back together in this new way,” says Lensch, who has a line of her Spirit Ladies on display in the new gallery. “It’s about honoring the feminine,” she says of the Spirit Ladies. “When I was doing them out of wood they were my versions of Mother Nature. Now these current Spirit Ladies are getting so much more conceptual.”
Lensch utilizes all her creative talents to create arts of many media, pushing herself and her creative boundaries – but she’s always been making jewelry. “I was one of the first people to major in sculpture and furniture-making and I think that showed me right away that I really enjoyed multiples,” says Lensch. “I really enjoyed experimenting with different ideas within the realm of sculpture and furniture and that has transformed into woven jewelry and now I’m coming back to it in mosaics, which is such a direct connection to jewelry because I often use beads or gemstones or glass in the mosaics, so it’s now putting the jewelry onto these forms. It’s such an interesting spiral of creative evolution.”
Angela Lensch Gallery, open daily from 10 am – 5 pm, is located at 7653 Highway 42 in Egg Harbor (halfway between Patricia Shoppe and Chief Oshkosh). For more information visit AngelaLensch.com.
The gallery currently features jewelry by Skye and Peter Ciesla, photography by Dan Eggert, mosaics by Joseph Kaftan, furniture by Ryan Urquhart, and decoupage by Sally Slattery.