Local artist opens studio in Alpena

First it was a sign making business uniquely called My Wife Makes Signs. Now it’s an art studio named Horse Feathers Studio.

When artist Brooke Stevens moved back to Alpena three years ago, she hoped to make a go of it here as an artist. Those aspirations are coming to fruition with a quiet opening earlier this year of her new studio at 119 W. Washington. The cozy and creative space is tucked next door to Garant’s Office Supply.

“In all aspects of my life I am lucky to do what I do,” said Stevens, who also works as education coordinator at Art in the Loft where she develops art workshops and teaches the Ready, Set, Create art program to area elementary school students.

Starting the home-based sign business was a practical way to make her art financially viable. The concept caught on and helped to get her name out there as an artist, she said. Though she continues to create her vibrantly hued signs, Stevens also is able now to concentrate on her other art pieces.

“Slowly there has been a shift to knowing me as an artist, not just as a sign maker, which I’m happy is happening,” Stevens said.

For now, the studio is open only on Fridays from 10 a.m.-6 p.m. and Saturdays from 10 a.m.-4 p.m. to allow her time for her other pursuits at Art in the Loft. The studio space is filled with her art as well as pieces from other selected artists.

“I have a style I like to keep it to,” Stevens said. “Obviously that’s colorful and vibrant, so whatever comes into the shop I tailor it to that. Not all of the artists are tied to Alpena. I have some friends throughout the U.S. that I’ve called upon.”

Her inventory includes many paintings as well as jewelry, bookmarks, handmade molded crayons, painted goblets and more. One of her convictions is that everyone should be able to own a piece of fine art, so she has tried to keep that in mind when pricing her own work.

“I like to make sure my art is affordable because I feel everyone should be able to have a custom, handmade piece of art, so I really do pride myself on making it as affordable as possible,” she said. “But I also don’t want to under-sell my talent.”

Since opening the studio, she has been pleased with the amount of foot traffic through the door.

“Slowly without much advertising at all, more and more people are coming in,” Stevens said. “What I love is repeat customers. When they come back, that tells me a lot.”

When it came to naming her sign business, she relied on supportive husband, K.J., who came up with the moniker, My Wife Makes Signs. A writer who has penned numerous books and is completing a master’s degree in fine arts, he also works at Omni.

For the name Horse Feathers Studio, Stevens affectionately pays homage to her deceased grandfather, Milton Huggler.

“When I was a little kid, my grandfather never cursed,” she said. “Whenever he got mad, he always said, ‘horse feathers.’ That made us grandkids laugh and laugh. I’m using those words as a tribute to grandpa and his non-cursing.”

Besides the space for displaying artwork, the studio contains a second room where Stevens keeps extra inventory and carves out a dedicated place for creating her own art. On Fridays and Saturdays, she is able to concentrate on creating, which usually takes the form of chalk pastels and acrylics.

“It’s a nice quiet time in between customers to just really focus on getting my own work done,” said Stevens, the mother of an active 4-year-old daughter, Jovi, and 7-year-old son, Julian. “It really helps me to be productive and focus.”

More information about the artist and her two businesses can be found at www.MyWifeMakesSigns.com or by calling 272-5192 or 884-3169.