LAURA AND TRACY Swayze, owners of Creative Soul, get ready to share their creative passion with the city of Green Lake in their surrey. Hannah Tetzlaff photo
by Hannah Tetzlaff
Green Lake Reporter
Re-purposing boat propellers into clocks.
This is just one skill of many skills exhibited by Tracy Swayze, whose dream was to own an art store in Green Lake and support other artists in the area.
He realized that dream in 2013, when he and his wife, Laura, opened Creative Soul at 493 Hill St.
The business, which is housed in a building that had been vacant for more than five years before the Swayzes purchased it, offers many artists — including Tracy — with a chance to show off their work.
“We currently have [the work of] 55 artists in here,” Laura said. “We try to showcase local art, so these artists are within three and a half hours from Green Lake.”
The Swayzes meet the artists through various ways and are open to meeting with many more.
“Some of them walk in the door,” Laura said. “One day, my highest was three; I had no idea who they were, they just walked in the door. I am always taking in new artists … I get them from word-of-mouth and people call and say ‘Hey, can I bring something?’ and I say ‘Yep.’ I don’t take everything. Unfortunately, sometimes we say no and that’s hard; my husband has a vision for this and I have to stick to his vision.”
The art sold at Creative Soul ranges from intricate wooden frames and décor to re-purposed furniture like a prop-turned-clock, scented candles, photography, hand-painted glassware, hand-beaded jewelry, and one-of-a-kind accessories such as owl and panda purses.
Other works of art include raku pottery, functional ceramic cups, platters and birdbaths, quilted blankets, hand-painted deer antlers and painted deck chairs.
Some of the art has become successful because of Creative Soul and has been associated with national events like Miss America.
“The beaded bracelets, the artist lives in Eldorado,” Laura said. “If she isn’t the lead artist that sells here, then she is right at the top. Those bracelets fly in the summertime and she hand beads each and every one of them … One was purchased for Miss Wisconsin and was to be worn in Miss America two years ago; I know that for a fact. We’ve had art taken to be put in model homes that were photographed by magazines to be published.”
The store houses many crafts and plans to display and sell many more and continually innovate.
“We are going to add Vines and Rushes because we are trying to showcase local art,” Laura said. “He [owner Ryan Prellwitz] makes his own wine and he is local. The liquor license is in the works; it’s not an overnight process. We are also working on Knuth Brewery, which is in Ripon down where Fat Bruce’s used to be.”
Another addition Creative Soul is looking to introduce is fresh, home-grown food.
“We are trying to pair up with [Dr.] Barry Rogers from Courthouse Kitchens; he has chefs over there that make things and we are going to do pre-packaged local food,” Laura said. “Each food has a time limit on it, so I have to have pre-packaged stuff.”
With all the hard work and dedication, the Swayzes hope Creative Soul will continue to progress and become even more popular. Laura aims for the business to expand its hours.
“To be open 12 months — more than one day in the winter — to be a destination; for vacationers to come back and say, ‘Okay, let’s see what’s new at Creative Soul,’” Laura said.
Creative Soul will continue to grow and diversify in the future and Tracy’s dream will continue to be realized with the addition of new artists and innovations.