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Another travel article sample, NE Wisconsin, writer Judith Ribbens

         Jewels along the Fox River.  That’s how I think of the artist’s studios, galleries, and eateries listed here. These are the almost-hidden gems for the person who isn’t native to the Fox River Valley of Wisconsin or one of the surrounding areas. A person could spend days wandering around accidentally discovering these fascinating places.  An alternative would be to ferret out the chambers of commerce buildings and grab a plastic bag of brochures, which will help.  Or, you can start here. 
         Here’s the scenario. Set aside a day or two at a time, or a week’s vacation and let yourself begin by wandering through the choices listed here. Since I’m a local artist and eater, I get to choose these, but you can create your own itinerary from the longer list I add at the end of this article.
         Here we go.  Beginning at the mouth of the river, in the Green Bay metro area, we start our tour with Cedar Center Arts, also known as The Art Garage.  Set in an old factory building at 1400 Cedar Street, a huge gallery houses up to 10 working artists, with 18+ exhibiting artists’ works along the walls.  From Sienna’s mixed media/experimental whimsical delights to Ray Kapfamer’s color-drenched landscapes to the painted silks of Sandy Melroy, the variety is stunning.  Currently, the Art Garage is set in the Olde Main District of Green Bay and the hope is to create an arts district here. 
         Close by, down Main Street are shops and an art and photography studio to explore. For a break, pop into Benjamin’s Patisserie, 1263 E Main St., for pastries and chocolates, or browse through Weathered Goods, 1242 Main St., for handcrafted arts, jewelry, metal art for the garden, and antiques.  Take a longer walk down Main Street to the The Attic Books & Coffee, 730 Bodart Way (Main, Cedar and Bodart meet) where you can browse over 15,000 like-new used books over specialty teas and coffees, and a local artist will have works on the wall. 
         If the weather is good, and maybe even if it’s not, you’ll want to check out the sculpture walk along the Fox River Trail.  Just south of the Walnut Street Bridge, on Green Bay’s east side, eight artists have sculptures carrying out The Life of the River theme.           
         This, however, isn’t the only arts district in town. On the lower west side, along Broadway Street, is another old section of Green Bay.  Known years ago as the Irish Patch because of the Irish immigrants who worked the railroads, now it’s a multicultural district. 
         Begin at The Gift Itself, 125 N. Broadway, where the owners fashion and repair jewelry.  Works of other artists are sold too.          
         Just off Broadway on the river is the Neville Public Museum. Besides the works on view at the museum, there is also the museum gift shop, another source of the creations of northeastern Wisconsin artists. Ask if there are local artists working that day and visit with them. They love to show and talk about their work. 
         Feeling hungry again?  Kavarna, 143 N. Broadway, features vegetarian goodies and artisan cheeses of Wisconsin. The stuffed Portobello mushroom drips juicy flavor. It’s a favorite of mine. The Urban Frog Deli, 163 N. Broadway is just down the street. 

         Back on the east side, travel south along the river on Monroe Street and visit the Chestnut Gallery at 1255 S. Monroe, where original art, vintage items, antiques, and jewelry are offered. Before we leave this area, there’s more.  In the town of Bellevue, (travel south of Green Bay on the east side—Monroe becomes Riverside Drive-- and turn left/east at Allouez Ave.), another gallery exhibits a huge selection of local artists.  Wisconsin Arts Gallery and Frames, 1780 Allouez Avenue, has been giving local artists space to show their works for many years. Every media is represented—oils, acrylics, watercolor, prints. While you’re over there, go further east to La Java, 2300 Lineville Rd, where not only is the food great, but there will be artists’ works on the walls.  Incredible cooking oils, salts and other culinary items are right next door at Savore.  Lime-flavored olive oil—mm-mm!
         Return to Riverside Drive and go south. DePere is an important stop along the way.  At 611 George St., The Assemblage Studio features paper arts, bookmaking, collage, and vintage items.  Nearby, at 416 George St, is Bejeweled Images Fine Jewelry.  Eat at the Chatterbox Pub & Restaurant, just down the street, and pick up artisanal breads and rolls at Great Harvest Bread, also just down the street. If all these works of art have aroused the creative genie in you, have a hands-on creative session at Paintin’ Pottery/Bead It, same street.

         Don’t leave the northern end of the Fox Valley without a visit to the Oneida Nation Tribal Museum, W846 County Road EE, De Pere, and Green Bay Botanical Gardens, 2600 Larsen Road. The art of one tribe of indigenous peoples of this land and Mother Nature’s own works of art add more pleasure to this journey.

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