When Randy Lee decided he would take a class to learn how to create stained glass over 20 years ago, he was just trying to create something nice that would keep the sun out of his eyes in his kitchen. Now, after years of creating unique stained pieces, Lee is offering up his collection, in addition to other local artists’ work, in his new store in Downtown Ely, The Wizard of Ahhs.
The store serves as a new outlet for local artists looking to sell their work on consignment, whether it be a photograph, piece of furniture or something entirely unique. Lee likes to describe the varied offerings in the store as “eclectic.”
“After making lots of different stained glass pieces, I wanted to try something a little different. That is when I started working with horseshoes. I taught myself how to make a stained glass piece inside of a horseshoe. I figured since people usually hang a horseshow above a door for good luck, why not make it look nice?” Lee said.
Though he sells the stained glass horseshows in his store, it wasn’t the only reason he wanted to open the gallery. The Wizard of Ahhs, which opened its doors on Oct. 13, is the culmination of Lee’s other passions, real estate and revitalizing Ely’s downtown area.
“The downtown area for tourists really stops too soon. As they are walking down the sidewalk from the Hotel Nevada, they look down the street to about as far as the Economy Drug and think that is where downtown ends, but that isn’t the case,” Lee said.
The Wizards of Ahhs filled in the space of the previous store Creations on Aultman Street, closer to White Pine Middle School than the Hotel Nevada. Despite this, Lee said that he is not worried about location and is excited to become a part of the growing downtown area.
“I’m planning on hanging up a nice, big sign above the door that sticks out over the sidewalk so people can see it when they look down the road to see what there is down there,” the owner said.
If that doesn’t draw enough foot traffic, Lee has also found another unique way to catch people’s attention, mannequins.
“A lot of people tell me that the mannequins get them every time they see them. I think it is something fun, like a good way to draw attention to people that otherwise might not notice you,” Lee said.
Several mannequins gaze out of the store’s front window, looking more like a Halloween supplier at times than an art store, but that is exactly what Lee is going for, something less serious with a bigger emphasis on fun. The theme even extends to some of the backstory on pieces of art he has for sale, including one such piece of a nude woman with real bullet holes in it.
“The story behind that one is that a man’s wife caught her husband in another room with someone and just opened fire,” he said.
Pieces like that are meant to differentiate his place from what he called the “more-high end option” at the Ely Art Bank. There is no piece too unique or different for Lee to consign. For more information about the Wizard of Ahhs or how to get art to be displayed for sale, contact Lee at 775-289-2900