The Museum Store featured her work in the Art of the Table “satellite store” that weekend, and even in the company of great international design houses, her RRT Designs pewter jewelry line (crafted by her own hand right here in Southeastern Wisconsin) stood out.
Doing my research for her biographical card on display in the Store (we call it an “Artist Provenance”), I came across Renotta’s blog, 365 Days of Design. It remains one of my favorite blogs for many reasons: the simple concept (one design a day, alternating media, but usually featuring fiber), the showcase of the breadth of her talent, her focus on lovely photography, and letting the designs speak for themselves in natural settings. In her jewelry designs, like this cuff, you can see the techniques she has perfected in textile design are being uniquely translated in the medium of pewter.
I caught up with Renotta recently to get her take on what it means to be a designer in the Milwaukee area and what advice she would give to young local artists.
I asked Renotta about how she got involved in the arts. For her, it started with being involved in her community. “I moved to Milwaukee in 1969 after graduation from UW Madison,” she says. “I was an occupational therapist and took my first job at the Adolescent Treatment Center on the Milwaukee County Grounds that is now Froedtert. Occupational therapy was a great introduction to all the crafts as well as the importance of activity and creativity in one’s life.” As the owner of the Brookfield women’s clothing boutique, Next Door, community and creativity continue to mingle in Renotta’s daily life.
The city of Milwaukee and the Museum are vital to Renotta’s lifestyle and creativity. “I am so proud to be part of the [Milwaukee Art Museum] Store. It is a great honor… I love the old and the new at [the Museum]. Everything there is an inspiration to me.
“We love coming to town, visiting the museum, and lunching at Cafe Calatrava. We also love sitting at the Harbor House and looking at the beautiful view. And of course we love attending the Lakefront Festival of the Artson the grounds.”
Even though she has since moved to western suburbs, Renotta considers herself from Milwaukee, connected in part by her history of opening “one of the first stores at the Grand Avenue in its grand days.” If she were a young designer today, she would still be living in the Third Ward. As she advises the young designers of Milwaukee: “Connect, collect, create, collaborate!”