Eclectic Elmwood Avenue studio makes fitness a fun endeavor

With his black, feathered and flowered fedora on his head and a red “Trix Are For Kids” tee on, Mike Sentman hula-hooped inside Filigrees Gallery and Boutique with an ear-to-ear smile, framed by his light brown goatee. He talked at length about his boss Melissa Campbell’s latest venture, Ultra Hoops, which has taken off recently.

The homemade hoops can be found at the corner of Forest and Elmwood, just up the staircase of Filigrees, at 1121 Elmwood Ave. In addition to Ultra Hoops, the art studio showcases local artists who have a fresh perspective and an eco-forward attitude. Campbell has owned the gallery for three years now, and is a local artist herself. She produces vivid pop art graphic styled paintings, wearable art, and jewelry.

According to Sentman, Campbell’s assistant, Campbell is really into Kung Fu and yoga training, and has combined the two to create a hula hoop full body fitness routine.

Sentman says the hula-hoop routines provide your body with essential cardio that your muscles need, massages your internal organs, as well as detoxifying your system.

Campbell makes the hula-hoops and sells them out of Filigrees. She designs different patterns and color combinations to go inside the tubing for the hoops. There are different sized ones you can purchase, decorated in various styles including light-up, sparkly and glow in the dark hoops.

She swears by her fitness routine and even offers lessons.

“She can teach absolutely anyone,” Sentman said. “ I one time saw her teach a 4-year-old and a 60-year-old woman who have never done it, and she got them to do it at the same time.”

Campbell even got to work her magic on some local television personnel. When Channel 7 stopped by last month to do a segment featuring Ultra Hoops, Campbell made sure to get the news crew moving and hooping.

“Mike Randall was the best,” Sentman said of the crew’s talent.

According to Sentman, the segment was a good boost for the studio, and it’s essential that an independently owned and operated, do-it-yourself studio like Filigrees gets as much press as it can.

“It’s tough having your own business,” Sentman said. “But that (news segment) is what we need to continually have exposure.”

The hoops are just one of the many original art pieces to be found within the space. Filigrees carries paintings, photographs, tapestries, jewelry, sculptures, designer clothes — including creations from Campbell’s own fashion lines — and much more.

Local artists can rent out wall space to fill with their own unique creations. The boutique also features unique items procured from scouting trips in New York City, Los Angeles, and Toronto.

The shop itself arose from an underground indie performance venue known as the Nobody’s Art Center.

Sentman described the scene of the studio back then as a time when they would host punk shows and would have $500-1000 paintings hanging on the wall, and realized that moshing in a room of fine art wasn’t exactly ideal for the type of crowds coming to these shows. So when Campbell gained ownership, she decided to turn the space into an eclectic, more affordably priced, bohemian chic art studio. She’s currently featuring Rainbow Fridays, where percentage coupons can be used on different brands and artwork.

Daniel Reynolds works at Allentown Music, a few storefronts down the street, and remembers when the space was nobody’s and how much it’s changed.

“It went from people just sitting on the ground and it being all just parties to being more established,” Reynolds said.

According to him, Campbell is known around the Elmwood area as being the go-to person with hula-hoops. She’s “all about that scene,” he said.

Reynolds lived overseas for a few years, coming back three years ago to find Filigrees, and he says he’s impressed by what he’s seen.

“I think (Filigrees has) been a staple for the Buffalo art scene for many years,” Reynolds said. “They feature really good shows when they have artists there and I always like to go to openings.”

Tommy Mims works at Madd Tattoo next door and thinks Elmwood is a great area for art because Buffalo State’s campus is right there and there are a lot of young new faces coming through and thinks Filigrees goes along with that young, hippie feel of the area.

“I support any kind of artist,” Mims said. “Melissa is cool. She’s been doing it for many years, so obviously she’s doing something right.”

Sentman loves his job, saying it’s sometimes a struggle to get by, but the support of the community and the love for the city is what makes it all worth it.

“No question about it, it’s the people,” Sentman said. “This is a great neighborhood and everyone that walks in is welcoming. And we’re helping artists make money in the city. That’s the reason we do it, we love Buffalo.”

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