Sunny Days Ahead

It seems appropriate to talk about taking to the outdoors in April. Although there’s still a bite in the air, the days are longer and occasionally at least, we can break out our spring duds. Driftless Studio on State Street is a perfect stop this month, too: the hybrid gallery/boutique is named after the beautiful Driftless area in southwest Wisconsin.

“Nature is all around us, and this is the best city to go exploring,” says owner Anne Connor. A former writer and editor, Connor branched out to photography and eventually opened her first store in 2006 on Cahill Main in Fitchburg. When the State Street location became
available she jumped at the chance to be downtown, moving in last October: “My heart is here, and I love this space.”

Original maple floors, a pressed-tin ceiling, intricate beveled window out front and the building’s hundred-year-old pedigree add to the shop’s charm. Cream walls display Connor’s beautiful nature photography: flowers, snow-covered trees, horses (her own), water and more. Colorful gift items (many made by local artists), home goods and children’s clothes and toys dot functional gardening fixtures like trellises and wheelbarrows. Connor says downtown’s sizable grandparent population nudged her to carry so much kids’ stuff—like Sock Monkeez, The North American Bear Company stuffed animals and adorable baby shoes.

The overarching nature theme is especially what Connor appreciates: “Eighty percent of the items here relate to nature, whether it’s my photography or even a laptop desk with flowers on it.” Connor’s family owns a farm and conservation easement in the town of Ridgeway that is close to her heart and is also where she takes much of her photography.

Like a tulip that pops up in early spring, Driftless Studio is a welcome sign of the season’s change but also a lovely addition to a lively, sophisticated downtown shopping scene.

Driftless Studio Nature Gallery & Gifts

Price range: $2.99–$400

Owner’s Picks: 24x36 close-up photograph of a rose (taken in Park City, Utah), $350; Sock Monkeez, $15.99–$25; custom-printed “Play Outside More” T-shirts, $20–$25; Wild Alphabet Press (based in Stoughton) “608” photograph, $45.

Editor’s Picks: Natural Life baby moccasins, $24.99; Jellycat striped zebra stuffed animal, $24.99; roomitup room organizing items (laptop desks, purse organizers), $10–$28; Fuzzywear North American Bear Company child’s jacket, $30–$35.

Verdict: In her photography Connor “takes a different view” than others—and it’s apparent in her shop’s visually appealing and thoughtful product mix that the nature theme is nicely woven throughout.

Driftless Studio, 214 State St. 230-5153. Driftlessstudio.com

Shayna Miller is associate and style editor of Madison Magazine.

Read Miller’s weekly Window Shopping blog here!

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