Kristin Mikrut and Cecilia Lanyon are bringing some California dreaming to Lake Forest on May 19 with the opening of their new 4,000-square-foot Re-invent facility in the former Konradt's Florist building.
Re-invent, 202 Wisconsin Ave., is Mikrut and Lanyon’s first business venture and soon will house their shared vision of a combination rotating art gallery, art studio and innovative retail shop.
Since Mikrut moved back to Lake Forest from New Zealand last year, Mikrut’s mother, a local Realtor, had been on the lookout for a building that would function well for the duo's multifaceted business plan.
”Once we saw the template of the building, we knew it was a perfect venue for multitask art,” said Mikrut.
Their passion for the arts has assisted in keeping them connected as best friends for the last 13 years, since meeting as 11-year-old students in a Lake Forest art class.
After attending Lake Forest High School, Mikrut moved away to Colorado College to pursue a studio art degree,and then to Karamea, New Zealand, to work as a professional artist in residence and gallery assistant.
“I would not have moved back here if it wasn’t for my brother getting married,” Mikrut admitted. But since moving back, Mikrut has recognized the large number of artists in the Chicago area.
Business partner Lanyon attended Lake Forest Academy before relocating to San Francisco after high school to pursue degrees in account planning and advertising at the San Francisco Academy of the Arts.
Lanyon moved back home to Lake Forest from her San Francisco residence just a few weeks ago to begin the new business with Mikrut.
Before moving back, while Mikrut was assisting local artists, Lanyon tapped into the resources of the San Francisco-based Women’s Business Initiative, a nonprofit organization that instructs women on how to start businesses.
“The foundation gave us the support we needed,” said Lanyon. “It was pivotal knowledge on how to structure and organize a business plan.”
Fusing Product With Art
Re-invent ‘s retail shop is planned as an informal extension of the gallery, carrying the work of between 20 and 30 independent artists who would like to sell either garden art, home décor, or fashion accessories, as well as variety of art supplies used by local students.
Mikrut and Lanyon share fragments of their vision in enthusiastic, alternating comments:
“We want to create an environment that sparks curiosity,” said Lanyon.
“We want to blur the line between consumer and curator,” added Mikrut.
“To have forward thinking as much as possible while maintaining day-to-day operations,” noted Lanyon.
“We want to engage spaces that fuse product with art," said Mikrut, “to re-invent the way people choose and use art in their everyday life.”
The large, informal light-filled studio in the back of the building, previously the flower shop work area, will be transformed into “a studio where an artist process and creative energy can be supported,” said Mikrut.
Three of the five spots already are rented with plans to have five filled by the end of the year.
Opening Spotlights McMahon Family
The unveiling of the gallery, retail space and work studio at the grand opening on May 19 will feature the family collections of the McMahons of Lake Forest.
The late Franklin McMahon produced several award-winning sketches that depicted major historic events, such as the civil rights struggle, spacecraft landings, political conventions and the Vatican.
The McMahon exhibit will include multimedia, multigenerational art displays containing the work of Mark, Carolyn, Meryl, Drew and Elise McMahon.
“They will be perfect to introduce the concept of our space and uphold the caliber of art we wish to present," said Mirkut.