By Matthew Kenwright
The Hays Daily News, Kan.
Remnants from the past are reborn as art in Aunt Gertie’s Art and Antiques store in Lucas.
Located across from the Garden of Eden, the shop is run by two women who recognize potential in others’ junk. History lives on in the pieces salvaged for second lives.
“You repurpose, remake, restyle,” said Michaela Pate, co-owner.
The philosophy is on display for customers before they reach the front door. An ironing board transformed into a table allows visitors to relax on the shaded lawn. Birds can feed from a tea cup and plate hanging on a pole in the garden.
More reimagined treasures are found within the store. A headboard becomes a bench, a cable spool placed atop an antique sewing machine base makes a table, bed springs are fashioned into a light fixture and metal oil lanterns hold candles.
An outside work station sits on a patch of grass stained by rainbow colors used in previous projects.
The creative bond between Pate and her fellow co-owner, Sarah Rowden, was clear as they crafted a new creation with barn wood, paint and scrap metal.
“I don’t know what it’s going to be,” Rowden said as she dug through a box of springs for something to spark her imagination. “In a minute, it’s going to be something.”
The idea unfolded minutes later, and a Christmas tree made from springs adorned the light teal plank.
The creative differences between Pate and Rowden add up to a dynamic blend of styles. Pate is drawn to primitive antiques, while her partner can use power tools to work with items from the 1960s and 1970s.
“She’s taking me out of my comfort zone, but we’re having fun together because we mesh,” Pate said.
The duo uses their talents to turn the character of the objects into compelling visuals.
“That’s one thing about antiques. Every single piece has a story,” Pate said.
Seeing another artist convert a headboard into a bench inspired Rowden to recreate it.
“A lot of things I know I’m not going to use it like it is, so then I’ll think of another way to keep it,” Rowden said. “That bed would have been in the attic just sitting.”
The shop gives visitors a glimpse into different perspectives.
“I think it opens their mind to like, ‘I wouldn’t of ever thought to do that, but it’s cool and I want that,’ ” Rowden said. “I love that.”
Rowden’s 14-year-old son, Jedd, said he rides around town on his bicycle looking for material the women can incorporate into their creations. The store’s shop sign was found in the citywide cleanup.
“It’s cool to see the transformation,” Jedd said.
The store’s name was inspired from a photograph Pate found in a Pennsylvania antique store. The frowning older woman in the black-and-white headshot was given a name and became the shop’s personality. Messages on Aunt Gertie’s Facebook page read as if she posts them.
“I’ve found me a place, and I’m opening shop, right across from that Garden of Eden in Lucas, KS. Some folks call it ‘Antiques & Art,’ I just call it ‘Junk.’ That’s how it is here on the Kansas prairie, you take what you’ve got and you make something new,” states the store’s description online.
“Well, I can reimagine just about anything. Stop by and visit, sit a spell, have a cold drink under the shade tree. If I do say so, I believe you’ll be surprised at what you find to carry home with you!”
Aunt Gertie’s is open from 9 a.m. to 4 p.m. Friday and Saturday, and 1 to 4 p.m. Sunday. For more information, visit www.facebook.com/auntgerties.