3rd Ward Jewelry Offers Unique Wares
UWM arts major opened a shop selling beautiful art jewelry just a year after graduating.
Mollie Kiesewetter graduated from UW-Milwaukee in May 2014 with a Bachelor of Fine Arts degree. The focus of her studies was in Jewelry and Metalsmithing, but that wasn’t always her plan. Yes, she’d always liked the arts, “but it wasn’t until college I fell in love,” Kiesewetter says. She took a metalsmithing class and that sealed her fate.
She purchased the gallery, which is tucked into the building at 241 N. Broadway (just south of Buffalo) just one year after graduation, a business owner at age 22. Elizabeth Hayes, the longtime previous owner, helped with the transition. According to Kiesewetter, it is the only art jewelry gallery in Milwaukee.
Jewelry is truly Kiesewetter’s passion. It becomes apparent as we walk around the gallery. I point out stunningly unique pieces that catch my eye. Not only does she know what materials make up each piece of jewelry, she knows the process by which the elements are constructed, and even a little bit of history about the artists behind them. From reclaimed iron nails to raw gemstones to pieces of Navajo pottery, the materials used in the jewelry vary greatly.
The variety of designs helps to draw a diverse group of customers. “We have such different pieces of work so it’s kind of nice that all age groups gravitate towards the gallery,” Kiesewetter says. “We have some really young pieces that are a little more funky and we have more sophisticated, clean-cut looking pieces.”
When selecting artists to display in the gallery, Kiesewetter has several requirements. She wants to make sure that materials are made in the United States and that the work is unique. She prefers original artwork that strays far from simply “stringing beads,” as Kiesewetter puts it. She wants work that is creative, unique, and different from other artists. “I want to keep it very refreshing in the Third Ward,” she says.
Kiesewetter’s own jewelry making has been put on the back burner to ensure that ownership of the gallery is her priority. She hopes to be able to make her own jewelry again once she hires an employee. But until then, Kiesewetter remains connected to art in a different way. “On a slow day not only will I have like 10 rings on every finger,” she laughs, “but I love being able to look at different mechanisms and how artists made different aspects of their work. Then I feel like I’m involved in the art and I’m still doing what I love.”
Kiesewetter stresses her desire to support artistic design. True to the Historic Third Ward’s creative character, 3rd Ward Jewelry offers unique pieces of wearable artwork while supporting over 75 artists locally and nationwide. She currently features artwork from 5-6 local artists and is looking to increase that number. Additionally, the gallery features another 15-20 artists from Wisconsin.
In the near future, Kiesewetter hopes to be able to work with universities in Milwaukee. The now 23-year-old owner wants to give other young students the opportunity to display their work and get their name out in the community. Her goal is to cooperate with schools to rotate student work within a display case in the gallery.
Kiesewetter also wants to offer internships to students from local universities. She hopes to be able to offer positions to students in both art and marketing programs to gain experience. Kiesewetter says she wants the gallery to embody Milwaukee and be known for its support of artistry and the local community.
The shop’s website is currently under construction, but you can find updates at its Facebook page.