In Arts & Entertainment

Urban Accents owner Nancy Rappaport (right) with artist Carol Obrien.

Urban Accents brings taste of Third Ward to North Shore

The ability to adapt is valuable in most environments, but these days, it's particularly important in the professional world due to the recent economy. Bayside's Nancy Rappaport understand this.

Rappaport is the owner of Urban Accents, an art gallery and boutique inside Bayshore Town Center. A few years ago, as an attempt to keep her business alive, Rappaport moved to the Glendale-based mall. Also, she changed the focus of her wares.

"When the economy changed, so did my business," says Rappaport.

When Urban Accents was located in the Third Ward it was an American Craft gallery featuring functional art pieces created by artists throughout the United States and Canada. However, when Rappaport moved to Bayshore, she decided to sell creations strictly made by Wisconsin-based artists.

"Most of the artists I work with are from Milwaukee," she says. "Switching my focus to local artists has been an added bonus. I really enjoy working with local artists. There is so much talent in our backyard."

Rappaport says Bayshore Town Center is a better fit because there is more foot traffic. In her new location, Rappaport stocks other items, too, like handbags, scarves and locally-made jewelry. Her art selection is now a mix of functional and visual art from a variety of media, from paintings to sculptures to pottery.

"There are so many more people at Bayshore that my exposure is three times what it used to be," she says. "I really loved the Third Ward -- the neighborhood and concept of what it is -- but it just didn't have enough traffic for my retail store."

Rappaport says Bayshore's management is surprisingly supportive of local business.

"Bayshore is very community-oriented. They really work with local, independent retailers to create a win-win situation," she says. "For a big company in the mall business, they really have a way of bringing it back to the community."

Rappaport says Urban Accents is still an "evolving entity." Currently, she is in the process of adding two more employees to her current staff of three.

Also, she plans to bring a version of the Third Ward's / Downtown's Gallery Night to the North Shore. On Friday, April 16, the same night as the Third Ward's Gallery Night, she will host an opening at Bayshore.

"A lot of people in the North Shore would not go Downtown under any circumstances, so I am able to bring the Gallery Night experience into the suburbs. It still promotes the artists and supporting them is the most important thing for me. My gallery helps the North Shore community see what's available to them," says Rappaport.

Rappaport grew up in Chicago and moved to Milwaukee 23 years ago. Prior to opening Urban Accents, Rappaport ran her own faux finish painting business. Being an artist herself, she says working with artists is the best part of owning a gallery.

"Artists in general are wonderful to work with. They have an amazing energy for a community that was hit the hardest by the economy. They are still so positive and excited about what they do and excited to create whatever it is they create," she says.


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