Q&A: Questions & Artists – Marilyn Jensen

Photo by Len Villano.

Marilyn Jensen is the founder of Sister Bay Trading Company, a full service design firm located in Sister Bay. Originally from Chicago, Jensen came to Door County with her then-husband John to set up a location for them to make and sell their custom furniture. She has been in business in Door County for 28 years, and has opened a new business at Sister Bay Trading Company – The Bay Art Gallery.

Randy Rasmussen (RR): Marilyn how did you come to Door County?

Marilyn Jensen (MJ): My former husband and I moved here in 1985. John was building custom made furniture and we opened the store in 1986 based on listening to the customer. That philosophy has remained.

RR: I know you have had many memorable design projects in and around Door County. Do any come to mind?

Photo by Len Villano.

MJ: I love each and every project. The “mansion” in Ellison Bay, over 35,000 square feet, was a real challenge. I just finished several projects in Madison that were enjoyable. I love traveling but most of all it is fun to get involved with the clients.

RR: What is your philosophy of interior design?

MJ: I think design is not about filling a space, it is about creating your space. All elements of design go into the creative process. We are a full service design firm and can do not only interior design, but our staff can help with exterior colors, fabrics, the building project itself, and the artwork to finish the project.

RR: How important is art to a finished home interior?

MJ: It is the “frosting on the cake.” It is the last thing done to finish the project and it enhances the design ambience.

RR: How did you decide to start The Bay Art Gallery?

MJ: It has been an evolution. My customers want my appraisal of their artwork. I have assisted clients in selecting their artwork and now the process can take place in house. As the design process takes place the client and I can look at fine art in room settings and in the gallery and select the perfect pieces. The gallery, as with the design firm, will be open on a year-round basis.

RR: Is the gallery going to emphasize Door County art?

MJ: Yes and no. We are not limiting ourselves to Door County art.

RR: Can you tell me some of the artists that will be featured in The Bay Art Gallery?

MJ: We have a diverse list of artists including painters and sculptors. Rick Brawner, Audrey Off, Jason Sacran, Randall Rasmussen, Bill Marvin, James Hemple, Roaxanne Haney, Nancy Sargent, Stephanie Trenchard, Annette Schuh, Liz Heller, Jason Prigge, Denny Moutray, Len Villano, Tom Queoff, Rob Comstock, Jeff Benson and Kim Rasplach are some of the artists.

Photo by Len Villano.

RR: Will you be available to help individuals select art that is a perfect fit for their current home interiors?

MJ: Absolutely. If requested, our design experts will be available helping the customer decide which piece would be best for their home.

RR: Would it be possible for someone to select maybe one piece of furniture and then find a piece of art that would enhance the furniture?

MJ: Again, absolutely. The art can be viewed in a coordinated room setting and any piece of furniture has a companion art piece.

RR: Thank you Marilyn.

Bay Art Gallery, located at 2477 Highway 42 in Sister Bay, is open 10 am – 5 pm Monday through Saturday, and 11 am – 4 pm Sunday. For more information visit or call 920.854.2554.