Picture This

At Olio United, art isn't meant only for the wall.

By Jill Spitznass May 19, 2009 Published in the July 2008 issue of Portland Monthly

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ART ISN’T MEANT ONLY for the wall: Sometimes it’s made for the body. Consider the pair of electric-blue flats made from a suedelike, vegan material that were recently spied at Olio United. The boutique, located on SE Water Avenue, showcases apparel and housewares made by craftspeople who’d rather you wear or use their works of art than hang them up and gaze at them from a distance.

Korinne James (left), a former graphic artist, and Cathy McMurray, a former high school art teacher, opened the shop a year ago in an old storage facility, an ideal showroom for the colorful and eclectic merchandise the women search the globe to find. “The challenge is locating pieces that are as wearable as they are inspiring,” James says, noting that she also looks for pieces that have been manufactured in a responsible way. Apparel designers that meet the challenge include Canada’s Preloved, which crafts fabrics otherwise destined for the rag factory into finely constructed sweaters, and Miami-based KRELwear, a company that recycles knitwear remnants into sexy dresses and tops.

That’s not to say that works of the canvas-and-frame variety don’t have a place at Olio United, which also hosts monthly fine-art shows. “Art is simply a great way to bring people together,” James says. No matter what form it may take.