Window dressing: Plaid Peacock storefront becomes local artists' canvas

2013-04-21T17:00:00Z 2013-04-22T03:19:16Z Window dressing: Plaid Peacock storefront becomes local artists' canvasBy KAREN BUSHANAM, Waterloo Cedar Falls Courier

WATERLOO, Iowa --- The interior of Plaid Peacock is brimming with expressions of creativity.

The shop in downtown Waterloo is full of "Iowa-made arts, gifts and stuff we like," according to Plaid Peacock's website. Even the exterior of the renovated brick building is decorated with a huge bird with colorful plumage.

Owners and mother-daughter duo Heidi Morrissey and Jessica Young recently realized they still weren't making the most of the space.

Since February, Plaid Peacock consignors have turned the front windows into their personal canvas. The displays will change out every month and feature the work of Plaid Peacock artists and merchandise inside the store, as well as some new work.

To have a bit of fun Morrissey and Young will tease patrons by posting snapshots revealing segments of the current displays on the store's Facebook page.

"We just really wanted to show, see, the artists," Morrissey said. "Maybe give people driving by a taste of what's inside."

The women were inspired by other stores in a variety of cities known for clever windows. Morrissey noted the creativity of one particular antique shop owner in New York.

"People couldn't wait to get down and see what he had done," Morrissey said.

Done well, window art can draw patrons into the shop.

"If it's a fun enough display they will come in and look at everyone's work," said Cedar Falls illustrator and print maker Kate Brennan Hall.

Hall will be in charge of decorating the windows for May. She plans to incorporate several artists in her spring-themed display. She also wants to turn the windows into a sort of interactive treasure hunt with clues or hints that will lure viewers inside.

"I think it's celebrating what's within that space," Hall said. "I think it's creating some intrigue. I think it's a way to have a welcoming kind of feel."

Waterloo resident and mixed media artist Brenda Barter took charge of Plaid Peacock's storefront for the month of March. She drew inspiration from March's notable holiday --- St. Patrick's Day --- but didn't want to resort to gimmicky, commercialized leprechauns and shamrocks.

"I wanted to do more of a traditional representation of Ireland," Barter said. "I wanted something that would last the month."

Her title piece, utilizing stencil and burlap, proclaimed "100,000 welcomes" in Gaelic. Tapestries purchased during Irish Fest served as a fitting background. She also decorated a cigar box and plates. Artwork and items offered a nod to Ireland's fishing industry, Jameson Irish whiskey and Guinness production and the country's famous wool sweaters, but would work separately as wall or mantle piece in the home.

Artists agree that the monthly storefront displays are simply an extension of an impressive assortment of work available inside.

"This is an amazing shop and it's fantastic for artists," Barter said. "There's so much incredible work here."

Plaid Peacock is part of exciting business and aesthetic renovations in downtown Waterloo, according to Hall. Window art is fitting for a city that is hopefully seeing a boost in pedestrian foot traffic generated by revitalization and development.

"With the public market there, there are a fair amount of people coming into that business so just creating a kind of cross connect," Hall said.

Plaid Peacock is just one more example that the Cedar Valley is increasingly a city of energetic, creative professionals who create, appreciate and support the arts.

"I just really enjoy their enthusiasm and the way they think about their business, adding into the stream of revitalization of the shopping district in Waterloo," Hall said. "So that's really neat, their vision."

Copyright 2015 Waterloo Cedar Falls Courier. All rights reserved. This material may not be published, broadcast, rewritten or redistributed.

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