Wells Gustafson

NATURAL TALENT | Wells Gustafson is in a collage period. That’s artist speak for taking stock—of the old drawer hinges, bits of bones, excavated stones, and ivory turtles that fill a home . . . and a lifetime. “I put things together,” says Gustafson. His necklaces are drawing attention at StyledLife at the Galleria. The earthy, exotic materials strung on layers of waxed linen stand out in cases filled with silver and gold.

A LEGACY TO REMEMBER | Now 82, Gustafson is best known for running Anthonie’s, the high-enL specialty store founded by and named for his mother in 1933. The store moved several times between Edina and Minneapolis (with secondary outposts in Stillwater and Nisswa) before settling in Bloomington. In an era before Mall of America, Anthonie’s distinctive A-frame was the fashion destination on I-494. Even in the glory years, when he was attending New York fashion shows and dressing Edina ladies in Escada, Gustafson relaxed by making jewelry. The very first piece he sold nearly 50 years ago was made from a bobber, clamshells, and dried reeds found on the beach by his Gull Lake cabin.

MADE WITH CARE | These days, Gustafson sources most of his material from the endless baskets and drawers at his home on Long Meadow Lake in Bloomington. The ivory turtle pendant that completes a new necklace belonged to his wife, Nel, who died last summer. An old drawer hinge morphed into a dragon with the addition of yellow eyes from a taxidermist. Gustafson’s latest project: pulling rusty bells off an old African dance belt he purchased from former Walker Art Center director Martin Friedman. “People think I’ve traveled a lot,” he says with a chuckle. But the art is in rediscovery.