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The Haymaker Shop Makes Itself at Home

When Haymaker owner and curator Arrin Williams chose to open his shop and gallery in his own neighborhood of Andersonville, he says the decision was a “no brainer.”  Full of vintage home furnishing stores, Williams observed a “built-in market” in what he calls a “design district”. But Haymaker stands out for its emphasis on newly made works by local artists and craftsmen and has since found success in its hip, gallery-meets-Etsy, aesthetic. “If you have a niche, you become a part of the community,” says Williams, “We all refer people to each other’s shops. We all want everyone else to succeed, and the neighborhood to succeed.”

A Haymaker opening. Photo by Sara Pooley.

Small succulents in hand-made steel vessels greet customers at the door, followed by hints of colorful wall art and wood–lots and lots of wood. Nearly every surface that supports the assortment of art objects is handmade, customizable, and for sale. Salvaged wood tables, shelves, and desks by local woodworkers like Nate Crawford and Tyson Schrock grace every corner. One is sprinkled with jax,while another displays an assortment of rich, glossy wooden plates and bowls by Clyde Bill Brown. Williams is trained as a graphic designer but has dabbled in woodworking himself. “I went to visit my grandfather and he totally got me into [furniture making],” he says, “I tried making a few things and got frustrated. It gave me a whole new respect for people who are doing that.”

Photo by Jessica Zimmer.

Photo by Sara Pooley.

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

Williams originally began recruiting local artists for Haymaker through word of mouth, design blogs, and Etsy, but Haymaker’s growing recognition and positive press have led artists to begin contacting him. In the past year, he’s received hundreds of submissions–he estimates about one per day–which vary from photography to furniture. “It’s just about a gut feeling,” says Williams of his selection process, “I definitely have trained my eye better than last year.”

On the young Haymaker’s evolution Williams laughs, “You definitely learn a lot in the first year, you learn money issues, customer service issues. . . A lot of people think you just sit behind the counter, and laugh, chat, and flirt, but it’s not that simple.” Williams started the gallery with smaller “cash and carry” items intending to gradually include higher priced pieces and custom work. “Now we’re working with restaurants and other retail venues, doing tables and merchandising in large custom jobs,” he explains, “so the evolution has been about getting more involved with other community places and becoming more known within the design community.”

Many of the pieces in Haymaker lean toward fine art but still flirt charmingly with craft–examples include framed upcycled belt art by Blake Sloane or colorful strips of salvaged wood mashed into  hangable fences by Iamhome, a local design team. Each exudes a sense of humor and a feeling of home. This feeling is reinforced on a shelf unit toward the back, where Paul Octavious’ photo series Same Hill, Different Day follows the vibrant life–people, kites, snow, and all–of a single hill in Chicago.

Paul Octavious, Same Hill, Different Day series. Photo by Sierra Nicole Rhoden.

Upcycled belt art by Blake Sloane. Photo by Sierra Nicole Rhoden

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

“There’s definitely a lot of stuff that intersects [fine art with craft],” says Williams, “That’s the stuff I enjoy. Art with a capital ‘A’ is not usable, whereas craft in my mind is meant to be used. But you can make craft that is conceived as art. That Venn diagram is all together, and I think the perfect objects in the world are things that combine form, function, and beauty.”

Haymaker is located at 5507 N. Clark St. For more information, visit www.haymakershop.com.

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