Meredith Alex, aka Mad Girl, is a local fashion designer and installation artist. She’s also the owner of Mad Girl World at 275 Commercial St., Portland. It’s an eclectic melange of up-cycled fashions, funky hosiery, recycled glassware, graphic T-shirts, vintage housewares, one-of-a kind jewelry and well, you get the idea.

Despite all she has going on, Alex, like many local business owners, wanted to make sure she gave something back to the community. So she took her love of music and added The Local Music Listening Lounge to the Mad Girl World landscape.

It’s an area of the shop with a couch, comfy chairs and four listening stations where you can plunk down and sample more than 125 CDs from local artists. All of them are available for purchase, and every nickel goes directly to the artist.

“I was pretty new to the area, so in the first year I did the best I could to get the word out. But really in the last month and a half, it has really just taken off,” Alex said.

This is where WCYY morning radio host Robin Ivy enters the story.

“I walked in here to buy a pair of tights and we just got into a long talk,” Ivy said. And the rest, as she put it, is what’s happening now.

That was a few months ago, and Alex now refers to Ivy as the “Curator of the Lounge,” which is open every day from 10 a.m. to 6 p.m. and until 10 p.m. during the monthly First Friday Art Walk.

What Ivy brings to the table is her connection to the local music community. When she first got wind of Alex’s plans a year ago, she started sending musicians down to the space with their CDs. Now that she’s holding down regular afternoon hours, the influx has exploded.

“Any given day, there are a few musicians coming in and hanging out, sitting on the couch, listening to somebody else’s CD, meeting Meredith,” Ivy said. “It’s a new level of connection and networking between people, and it’s fun.”

As for Alex, she couldn’t be any happier with how the lounge is doing. “I think I’ve probably written over $3,000 worth of checks in a year and sold more than 300 CDs,” she said. “It’s really awesome, and I feel really proud. I love the fact that I am supporting local musicians and helping them fulfill and live their dreams.”

In addition to the CDs, there are books containing band information and an ever-growing wall and ceiling collage of band posters and photographs.

All southern and central Maine artists are welcome to add to the collection with CDs that are professionally presented with cover art and a case.

Staff Writer Aimsel Ponti can be contacted at 791-6455 or at:

[email protected]