Made in Milwaukie set on giving city new identity
How do you know when your town is having a moment?
When Elvis drops by.
And, yes, ladies and gentlemen, John "Elvis" Schroder will make an appearance in Milwaukie at 7 p.m. Friday, July 5, in front of the town's newest shop, Made in Milwaukie.
"This store was inevitable," said Chris Haberman, co-owner of the shop located at 2026 S.E. Monroe St. in historic downtown Milwaukie.
People want to know more about the town and Haberman and fellow owners Rob Campbell and Kyle Black have made it their mission to give Milwaukie an identity.
Thus the new store, which celebrates the famous — Milwaukie's waterfront; the infamous — Tonya's Harding's connection to the city; and the quirky — the town's traffic-stopping geese.
All of those things and more have been immortalized on Campbell's wacky, silk-screened T-shirts, Haberman's colorful paintings and Black's handmade Ouija boards and prints.
The shop opened June 7 and was the result of an idea that Campbell had that Milwaukie needed a central location for artists to sell their work. He called Haberman and pitched the concept and the two brought in Black to be "the third element," Haberman said.
"I couldn't work here five days a week by myself, so to have Chris and Kyle equally enthusiastic" was a blessing, Campbell said.
The connection to Milwaukie is a strong one: both Haberman and Campbell graduated from Milwaukie High School, in 1991 and 1998 respectively, and Black runs his business, Black Sheep Design, in the old White Stag building on the edge of Milwaukie.
Haberman is a member of Milwaukie's arts committee known as artMOB, and is an artist, muralist and curator. He created the enormous mural on the side of Milwaukie High School that can be seen from Max.
Campbell owns Shirt Nerdery and is a printer, designer and "T-shirt guru." One of his Milwaukie-centric T-shirts proclaims "Milwaukie — because one bowling alley really isn't enough."
Black is a printer, designer and artist, who describes his style as having a 1960s and 1970s "psychedelic vibe," with some biker chic thrown in for good measure.
In addition to his T-shirts, Campbell sells original art that he buys at Goodwill and then silkscreens "de-motivational phrases" onto the artwork.
He calls the results "recycled sadness;" one example is "It's Never Too Late to Give Up on Your Dreams."
One of his most popular T-shirts is the "Unincorporated Clackamas County" in brilliant turquoise, with a tree of heaven (an invasive species) and geese flying overhead (probably leaving their presence behind on the waterfront).
Haberman sells his distinctive artwork, including hand-painted Christmas ornaments in the store. He plans to make a T-shirt that says "Make Milwaukie Weird."
Black has prints that people can frame that might include images of Steve McQueen, Hunter S. Thompson, Bruce Lee or David Bowie. He also adds some of his own quirky details to Ouija boards.
Campbell added that Made in Milwaukie occupies the building that once was Acme, a video business.
"So we still do duplication of anything to DVD. Rite Aid and Costco refer business to us," he said.
Nostalgia and more
Why should people visit Made in Milwaukie?
"They'd be fools not to," Black said, adding that the shop features "so much color in a drab world."
"You don't have to be local to come here. Chris brings in so many consignment artists — come here for the selection," Campbell said.
"This is a permanent place for creative stuff. It gives artists an opportunity to expand what they do or revisit what they do," Haberman said.
"We're like an art museum gift shop," Campbell said, while Black added, "We're the high end of lowbrow."
The three hope to stage some unusual events at the shop like the "world's smallest comic-con," Campbell said, or "a zombie crawl for Halloween featuring Rob's 'Milwauking Dead' T-shirts," Haberman said.
He noted that a lot of people who grew up in Milwaukie come into the shop and tell him how great it is.
Campbell added, "We have a lot of nostalgia here."
What: Made in Milwaukie, a new art-based business
Where: 2026 S.E. Monroe St. in downtown Milwaukie
Hours: 11 a.m.-6 p.m. Wednesday-Sunday
Details: Made in Milwaukie is owned by Kyle Black, Rob Campbell and Chris Haberman. It features the work of local painters, card makers, printers and creatives. Duplication services of "anything to DVD" are also on offer.
Elvis: John Schroder, Portland's own Elvis impersonator, will make an appearance outside the shop at 7 p.m. during First Friday on July 5.
Coming up: "Prints and the Revolution," a group show, 5-9 p.m. Aug. 2; "Little by Little 3," a show featuring 100 artists, 5-9 p.m. Sept. 6; "Milwauking Dead Party," 5-9 p.m. Oct. 4; and "Holiday Art Bonanza," a special event, with dates to be announced.
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