The Beehive Salon/Spa, Other Local Businesses Make Farwell Buzz
by Judith Ann Moriarty
Sara Hasslinger hands me two business cards. One reads, “diversified artist specializing in murals, signs, decorative finishing, and more.” The second touts “The Beehive,” a salon/spa at 1547 N. Farwell Avenue, where she’s establishing herself as a designer of hair. I’ve arrived for a cut in a honey-of-a-space. Immersed in a ’50s decor splashed with turquoise walls and funky furnishings, I check in as a postal employee checks out, his shoulder-length locks and flowing beard newly bleached to a shade of wintry white. When he steps through the door and into a snowstorm blanketing our town, will he catch a whiff of curry wafting from the Maharaja restaurant across the way? The 25-year-old Sara takes charge of my head, telling me that during her years as a fine arts/education major at UWM, she designed a box to store the scissors she used to cut various friends’ locks. The exterior was covered with x-ray style drawings of the tools, and yes, hair from her own head. Things got stranger when she created a costume (based on a character from the book Where The Wild Things Are) using recycled scraps, paper mache, and glue. Encased in her disguise of purple spikes and huge eyes devised from recycled window screens, Sara played pool and bowled at Landmark Lanes, dined at Ma Fischer’s, listened to tunes at a record store, and shopped at Jewel-Osco. “People loved interacting with the costume,” she remarks, pointing to color photos taken by a friend who came along for the fun. But her most exciting project to date is a gigantic mural she designed for The Waukesha Recycling Plant. Government funded, it covers six walls and is a time-line extending from 500 B.C. — when Athens installed the first municipal dump — to our current overload of hi-tech garbage. In a space not far from Sara’s, Tamara Little transforms my raggedy fingernails into ten red ones with attitude. Her work world is filled with buffing and smoothing, and should you desire babying for your boot-weary feet, a burbling warm water spa awaits. But it’s her tale of a fur bedspread she’s making in her spare time that grabs my attention. “It requires what’s equal to five or six fur coats,” she purrs, adding that clients often bring in the fluffy stuff to incorporate in her emerging quilt. “My whole family consists of artists,” says the lady who’s earned degrees in both business and fashion marketing. “My uncle sculpts, two aunts make museum quality quilts, my dad is a woodworker. He got that from his dad, who is a retired shipbuilder.” Tamara knows how to make do. Her duplex is furnished with junk recycled into usable furnishings. In an airy room at The Beehive’s east end, stylist/clothing designer Roger Thompson works among vintage photographs (the supremely lovely Diana Ross, terrific Tina Turner, and smilin’ Aretha Franklin) of gorgeously-gowned Black entertainers. Roger is tall and dramatic (he has Hansbury-Sands acting experience), and until three years ago, was a Riverwest resident in charge of The Wright Street Salon. “That’s where it all started,” he observes, crediting his mom with teaching the intricacies of whipping up knock-em-dead gowns for ladies. He’s asked Sara to make him an Egyptian throne. Something wild for his digs. Paula Timm owns The Beehive (named in homage to the ’60s lacquered and towering hair construction) and is known as “Queen Bee.” Like Thompson’s mom, her mom knows a thing or two about sewing. As for talent inherited from her paternal side, well, her dad owned Timm’s Construction. He’s retired with time on his hands, but uses it wisely and in a most artistic way. On display and for sale at the spa are exquisite boxes and writing instruments of wood. Paula paints with acrylics when not running the business, but her goal isn’t gallery fame or monetary reward. Her creations are given as gifts; in fact, it’s a family Christmas tradition to exchange hand-made expressions. I exit The Beehive and stroll south past another beauty salon — Edith’s Heads — which on this day features a window display of cuddly hand-knit hats, scarves, and slippers. On to Mr. Shoe with a pause at the Pasta Tree and Blue Dawg Bagels. My memory jiggles with thoughts of a recent Arizona trip where I visited the Scottsdale Museum of Contemporary Art and was treated to an exhibit of Black American hairstyles. The central gallery featured an Oldenburg-like sculpture of gigantic ebony-hued hair picks, hand painted signs from beauty parlors, photos of wildly wonderful dos, and collages commenting on the social implications of hair styles. Topping it off was an installation of woven tresses sheared from the head of the artist who made it. At the intersection of Farwell and Ogden, I study a gigantic beer sign strewn with images of bees touting a honey-laced product. When the artists who designed the graphics leave their corporate job and head home, will they make art that probably will never be viewed in a trendy gallery, but is, when all is said, close to their heart? Across the street, in an intimate park, looms a sculpture by international art star, Beverly Pepper. For all its grandeur, it lacks the personal touch. Farwell Avenue — far more than a southbound drag strip to downtown. Should you find a parking space, consider yourself lucky to be able to walk the route. It’s worth it.