Wildflowers Armory, Syracuse, NY

Address:  225 West Jefferson Street, Syracuse, NY (in the MOST circle)

Phone:  (315) 546-4919

Website:  http://wildflowersarmory.com

Wildflowers is a new store to the Armory Square neighborhood, having opened only seven months ago (May 2018).  I had planned to come to Armory to review another store, but that store will have to wait for another day.  My friend and artist/illustrator Erin McKenna Nowak suggested that I check out Wildflowers.  Once I was there, I spent so much time looking through the shop and making notes that I ran out of time to visit my initial destination.  Wildflowers was well worth the stop, and if you haven’t heard of it yet, make time for a visit.

The store is located in the MOST circle, but not near the entrance to the museum.  It’s on the side of the Jefferson-Clinton Hotel, but farther around the circle.  The store provides chairs for guests to sit and relax, complimentary hot cocoa, and relaxing music plays in the background.  Wildflowers is a store dedicated to local artisans, and it feels a bit like going to a small but great arts and crafts festival without having to wait for festival weekend.  In this store, artists have a place to display and sell their products.

Glass and metal prints of photography by Lisa Kane 

The store’s mission is clearly to promote local artists, but also to showcase products unique to this area.  As an example, the prints featured above by Lisa Kane show multiple scenes familiar to those of us who live in or near Syracuse, and Lisa’s Syracuse calendar is also available for purchase.  There are shirts for sale that say “Syracuse,” but they clearly represent the city and not just Syracuse University. 

The walls are covered with prints, posters, and paintings by local artists in a variety of styles.  In addition, there are soy candles, food items, shirts, hats, blankets, toiletries, and more – all made locally.  There are multiple shelves where artists have left examples of their products for sale, and provided their contact information on business cards.  There are way too many artists on display here to list them all, so I won’t even try.  I will, however, point out a few really cool items, but please be forewarned that there are so many items on display that you really need to check out the store for yourself.  If you do, you’ll be supporting the truly thriving web of creativity that I love about the Central New York region.

Typewriter lamp and Air Plants by Ron Theel of Affinity Art

The picture above highlights some of the work of Ron Theel of Affinity Art.  The lamp is made from a real typewriter; near the windows, there are also a couple of lamps made from musical instruments.  As incredibly cool as I find these lamps, I also want to point out these beautiful plants sitting next to the lamp.  They are called “Air Plants,” and they are arranged in glass containers of multiple shapes and sizes and require very little care (indirect sunlight or fluorescent indoor lighting, and gentle misting 2-3 times per week).  I don’t have the best record of keeping plants alive, but I feel like I would have a fighting chance with these, and each arrangement is unique and beautiful.

Wood crafts by Simply by Nature out of Mexico, NY

Next, I am a sucker for all things made of natural wood, and I became engrossed in the shelf above, of which I am only displaying a small portion due to the rare chance that I visited Wildflowers on a sunny day in winter.  My camera flash couldn’t counteract the power of the sun in the windows behind this case – unheard of in December, I know!  The items shown above are made by Simply by Nature, owned and operated by Steve Saumure.  As of now, Wildflowers provides their first retail location in Syracuse, though they will be opening a store in Mexico, NY, within the next few weeks.  Simply by Nature makes custom birdhouses and wood crafts, including candle holders, centerpieces, toy trucks and cars, key chains, and lamps.  For those who live closer to Syracuse than to Mexico, it’s nice to have a store close by where we can purchase such beautiful wood crafted items.

Repurposed bicycle parts made into signs, ornaments

If you love the concept of upcycling, Wildflowers is the perfect store to find a gift made of repurposed items or to find inspiration for your own art projects.  The examples shown above come from Rob Niederhoff’s business Upcycling for a Cause.  He turns old bicycle parts into works of art, such as the heart-shaped sign or ornaments above.  Throughout the store, I found additional examples of art made from repurposed items, including sports trophies turned into wine stoppers; Cuppa Candles in upcycled mugs; wall art made from folding yard sticks or plates; and vintage items re-imagined for new uses.  

Artist Annie Lathrop offers custom pet portraits

Next, as shown above, for the pet lovers in the crowd, artist Annie Lathrop offers customized pet portraits.  Her art is displayed on the surrounding shelf, but this is something quite special for those of us who adore our pets and want to have a lasting memory to treasure.

Ornament hand painted by artist Erin McKenna Nowak

Finally, if you remember my last post, I have been looking for a second ornament, and I found one I love with a hand-painted picture of Clinton Square.  The artist is Erin McKenna Nowak, mentioned earlier.  Also available are the Tipp Hill Traffic Light and a winter scene of Strathmore.

Wildflowers is a bit of a love letter to Central New York and its artist community.  Tourists who want something uniquely “Syracuse” will find it here.  Residents who cherish their city will love shopping here.  Wildflowers may be relatively new, but it has already earned the distinction of being a Local Treasure of Central New York.

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