Artist Mike Kline turns old storefront into Galerie Oiscaux

WILTON – Artist Mike Kline has turned what was for generations Putnam’s Clothing Store on Main Street into Galerie Oiscaux, a showing of his work he calls “mixed media.”

“It’s contemporary,” he said. “I like working with wood, some stone, found objects, and some times watercolors.”

He added, “My work is mostly symbolic, full of personal symbols, but I don’t expect people to interpret it that way. Basically, I’m just pondering on life.”

Kline was a middle and high school teaches in Waldorf Schools for 25 years. “I was a woodworking teacher in the middle school and taught traditional crafts in high school.”

The Waldorf system encourages students to explore all aspects of life, including ats, crafts and music.

Kline moved in about four months ago and is still getting settled. Much of Putnam’s store is still there – the old beadboard walls – “but I rearranged the furniture.”

He moved the walls of the former office and dressing room into the middle of the store and created “The Putnam Room.”

That space is to become a gallery for local school children and teen-agers. “A place where they can exhibit their work free of charge. Children are sometimes hesitant to do that.”

He envisions monthly showings.

Kline wants to work with a small number of local artisans incorporating a particular bird form he uses in his art, a small, simplified sitting bird.

“So far I’ve found (silversmith Sussy-Rose Shields) who is creating a special line of jewelry.” He would like to add a worker in metals, glass, ceramics, and maybe fabrics.

The gallery offers the work of a small number of creators, he said. “Terrariums made from reclaimed glass from demolished buildings in Detroit, steel drums made from propane tanks in Colorado, wooden puzzles from France, and a little collection of French antiques because I lived there for six years.”

He is a supporter of local art. “I’m always looking for small businesses, supporting work that is unique and strikes me. That’s exciting. My part is to make art and have people come look at it.”

He said, “People are welcome to come in with no intention of buying anything. I love this way of meeting people, when they walk into my space. People can be intimidated by the display, but come in and find something beautiful. I am trying to find a place of serenity.”

He has found a place in Wilton. “Main Street could turn into a real cultural destination,” he said.. “We have the wonderful theater, two restaurants, antiques, the candy store and the cupcake shop.”

He is turning the lower level of the store into an apartment. “The river view,” he said. “It’s part of the reason I bought it. You can walk right out ono the river bank.”

For information visit mike@mklineart.com.