Galerie Oiseaux set to open on Wilton Main Street

  • Michael Kline plans to open Galerie Oiseaux, featuring his own work as well as other local artists and artisans from across the country, on Wilton's Main Street this month. Staff photo by Ashley Saari—

  • Michael Kline plans to open Galerie Oiseaux, featuring his own work as well as other local artists and artisans from across the country, on Wilton's Main Street this month. Staff photo by Ashley Saari—

  • Michael Kline plans to open Galerie Oiseaux, featuring his own work as well as other local artists and artisans from across the country, on Wilton’s Main Street this month. Staff photos by Ashley Saari

  • Michael Kline plans to open Galerie Oiseaux, featuring his own work as well as other local artists and artisans from across the country, on Wilton's Main Street this month. Staff photo by Ashley Saari—

Monadnock Ledger-Transcript
Published: 9/9/2021 2:54:30 PM

On Main Street in Wilton, Mike Kline hopes to find a new home for himself and his artwork, in the soon-to-open Galerie Oiseaux.

GalerieOiseaux – French for Birds Gallery – is a nod to Kline’s French wife, Géraldine Kline, and one of his most frequent subjects.

In a broad sense, Kline said, he is a contemporary artist, with work sometimes abstract, but usually evoking objects with personal symbolism. Some are paintings, some are sculptures, and some are a mixed media, using wood carving or burning along with paint. Often, they’re everyday objects – birds, trees, boats, flowers, or bowls – but each has their own, deeper meaning to him. For example, birds, to Kline, usually represent relationships.

The shop, once the long-time home of Putnam’s Clothing and Apparel, is currently being renovated into a gallery and studio upstairs, and an apartment for Kline downstairs. Kline anticipates being able to open the doors to the new shop this month.

Kline, a former teacher at High Mowing in Wilton, and whose late wife Géraldine was the former head of school there, said he is familiar with the community and wanted to make the town his home. It was also a long-time dream he shared with his wife to own a little shop or gallery and live above it – something that was common in his wife’s hometown village in France. When Géraldine died about six months ago, and their home, which served a second function as Kline’s studio and gallery, became too big for one person, he decided to make that vision a reality.

“I was going to go after that dream,” Kline said.

And Putnam’s, a long-time institution that has largely maintained an old-time aesthetic by keeping much of its original architecture and displays, seemed the perfect place to do it in, Kline said.

“I like things that are old. Material that has aged has a soulful quality, has been through life and been dented and scratched and been through things,” Kline said. When he first saw Putnam’s, he wanted to keep a lot of that material quality. He said he likes that the untreated wooden floor has scratches and dings, and that the display cases have been part of the space for decades.

“Everything in here, from the radiators to doors, cabinets and cases, have been around, and it feels ensouled,” Kline said. “I’ve moved the furniture around, but aside from getting all the dust out, I’m really not spiffing it up very much. I’m using the old stuff I find. A lot of old wood and benches and tables. It looks a lot different than Putnam’s Clothing, but composed almost exclusively of elements that have been in this building.”

Putnam will be honored in another way. A small room, once a back office, has been relocated and will be used to feature art from Wilton area teens and children. With the blessing of former owner Dick Putnam, it will be called “The Putnam Room” and also feature some historic photographs of the space.

Kline said he’s also reached out to local artists to feature their work in the gallery. He said he hopes to buy wholesale pieces of art in different mediums – metal, glass, ceramic or precious metals – to create work of birds to sell in the space. He has already partnered with silversmith Sussy-Rose Shields of Wilton to create a line of jewelry which will be sold exclusively within the Galerie Oiseaux.

Along with his own artwork and that of local artists Kline said, the gallery will feature work from craftsmen he has collected from or developed relationships with over the years, nationally and internationally. It’s an eclectic mix – wooden puzzles, carved wooden bowties, tongue drums made from propane tanks, terrariums from glass and wood salvaged from demolished houses and French antiques he’s curated over the years. Kline said his main qualifier are things that he, himself, is drawn to.

“That’s the basic idea,” Kline said, “to have my work, and work from other people far flung and international, and also work very locally.”

Galerie Oiseaux is located on 41 Main Street and expects to open before the end of the month.


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