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Where The Vintage Things Are

Emily Buddendeck’s retail shop/exhibition space is itself a quirky work of art

By Jane Durrell · July 18th, 2012 · Visual Art
ac_nvision_jf02-2Emily Buddendeck - Photo: Jesse Fox

Emily Buddendeck’s original career plans didn’t include a shop. She came here from Dayton to go to the University of Cincinnati and ended up in retail by way of a fine arts major (a period when she showed art in her own apartment) and various jobs including customer service for the Cincinnati Public Library, director and creative problem solver for the non-profit project Ink Tank and manager of the Mockbee building in Brighton. 

However, NVISION, her quirky venture at 4577 Hamilton Ave. in Northside, has grown steadily during its four-and-a-half years of existence.

“I opened on Leap Day of Leap year, Feb. 29, 2008. The day seemed appropriate because the shop was even more of a leap during a recession, but it really merged the various things I had been doing, career-wise,” she says. 

NVISION carries an eclectic mix of vintage furniture, vintage and handmade clothing, and usually has an art show mounted in its crowded confines. How did the name evolve? 

“I wanted a name that could endure growth,” Buddendeck says. “I thought of things beginning with ‘re’ — refurbish, re-purpose, revision,” That brought me to envision, which means imagine. ‘Imagine yourself wearing that, or having this furniture in your home, or reconstructing this article of clothing.’ ”  

Dropping the “e” leaves pronunciation the same, and NVISION came into being.

The variety of stock appeals to a diverse clientele. “Someone looking for handmade articles may discover vintage furniture. We have items for children. Or older people may come with their grown children and find something they like. The transient population shops here: students, people who work for Procter & Gamble and are only here for a short time.”

The stock itself “comes from all over the place.

Some from estates, some is consignment.” It fills the store, almost over-fills, with racks of clothing, tables covered with a mass of items, things hung on the walls, a plethora of goods on both the first floor and below, where much of the furniture is located.

Buddendeck has no staff. If she did “it would have to be someone who has the catalogue nature to their mind already. I could tell you where most everything is. I’ve touched it all. I know how much it cost or who consigned it.”

The shop, she says, is an extension of one-evening-only exhibitions she used to hold in spaces where she also lived. “I bring people into an intimate setting and help them find something that will give them enjoyment.” She finds it a rewarding way to meet people and to establish a special rapport with them. “I can remember people’s sizes, their tastes and let them know about things they might like.”

Asked what she collects, Buddendeck says perhaps clothing, although really not much. Tall, slim, dark-haired and strikingly attractive, she is a good model for the individualistic clothes in the shop. The day we talked she wore a sleeveless top that showed off the pretty tattoos on her upper arms. But collecting, because she now lives in a “New York-type apartment, one room on the fourth floor,” is not much of an option. “I live here at the shop more than anywhere,” she says, “and I get to own things for a little bit.” A quotation she likes proposes that it’s possible “to have everything you want, but not at the same time.” This way, she says, “I don’t have to hold on to things, and it’s fun to see them go to someone who wants them.” 

Asked if she still makes art, the one-time fine arts major says, “No. I dream about it, but don’t make it.” Now her creativity goes into sewing. “It’s a lot of fun, interesting. Because I do alterations, it’s problem solving; reconstructing clothing to make it more interesting, so that you don’t look like everyone else. And fixing the window displays is creative. But it’s not the same as painting or sculpture. I don’t have the time or the focus. You need a mindset where anything can happen. You use a different part of your brain for balance sheets and all that. But I enjoy what I do.”

The shop’s hours reflect Buddendeck’s description of herself as “a night person” and the fact that The Comet bar and restaurant, next door, is a source of customers. NVISION is open 2-9 p.m. Wednesday-Saturday and noon-9 p.m. on Sundays when the Comet serves brunch and hosts the Bluegrass AllStars. Buddendeck’s “night person” alignment sometimes keeps her up to 3 or 4 a.m. after she goes home, working on the sewing that now occupies her creative mind.

She continues to show art, however. Up now through Sunday is Abandon Ship, an engaging exhibit of drawing and painting by Angela Oster of Rocky Ridge, Ohio. Oster’s figures verge on cartoon shapes, with pop eyes and large heads, but present the moment when “funny and sad meet,” the artist has said. Or perhaps the interface between success and terror? They are deceptively simple but trigger thought. Next up will be a show, still untitled when we talked, of mixed media work by Sabrina Mantle, a Nashville, Ind. native now living in Cincinnati. It will run July 27-Sept. 2.  

When asked how she plans an exhibition schedule, Buddendeck replied by email, “I look for artists whose work reflects the aesthetic of the shop, but not so much that it will blend into the background as merely ‘décor.’ This could translate into sewing-based works, vintage-inspired imagery, collage that marries shapes/forms/images into an enjoyable whole or painting that compliments vintage/modern furnishings, etc. Also, the works need to be affordable, mostly $500 or under. Sometimes I find the artists on my own, and sometimes they introduce themselves.” 

The shop itself, always changing, could be considered Buddendeck’s own work in progress.

NVISION is located at 4577 Hamilton Ave. in Northside. ABANDON SHIP is on view through Sunday.


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