The WC Press Visual Arts Issue - March 2020

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Reflecting on this month’s


Publisher Dan Mathers shares his personal connections to the current issue

I’ve always aspired to become a creator, an artist of any kind. And yet, I’ve always lacked the courage. My primary passion was for painting. I welcomed WCASD’s Leap/ Probe programs for their access to extra courses, and I always elected for art. Unfortnately, upon entering East, those opportunities evaporated, and Art 1 exhibited unexpected shortfalls of freedom and an abundance of pressure to perform as expected. I quickly quit. Afterward I imagined myself an architect. The slot in my schedule left open by my abandoned elective was filled by AutoCAD. It was early in the era of computer-aided everything, and each day I entered the lab excited. Sadly CAD was supervised by a teacher at the end of his tenure who was more often locked out of his own operating system than supplying support for stumped students. Once I’d finished the initial assignments, rather than turn to the text and teach myself, I swiped the admin ID and installed the game Quake on a couple class computers. Afterall, it was also the early days of LAN parties and online first-person shooters. In college, after increasing insecurity about how my political science degree was more about instruction in the manipulation of existing infrastructure than improving policies, I decided I’d be better off an author than a staffer. I opted into creative writing courses and completed a couple chapters of a novel — which was really, in retrospect, just poorly appropriated Pahlaniuk — before realizing I had no plan for the plot’s progression. I ultimately discarded the document along with the dying laptop that I left it on. Obviously the ambition to become a writer ended up outlasting my other endeavors. Afterall, you’re currently reading a copy of my most recent column. I suppose, in the most basic sense, I am what I intended. But I’ve abandoned dreams of authoring operatic space dramas and instead simply submit my monthly entry for each issue. I enjoy the challenge, and it’s usually cathartic, but I create little of consequence with my words and rarely stray from this single page. Unlike me, the folks we’ve featured have had the prowess to persevere and exist outside the ordinary. I’d be surprised if every painter in these pages hadn’t been pestered by questions about paying their bills, if every designer and actor hadn’t had parents who’d wonder whether their child’s craft could become a career. Certainly, every tattooist confronted those same conflicts, but also had the audacity to pursue their passions despite the disapproval of sizable segments of our society. It’s only in recent years that many Americans have acknowledged tattoo ink as art and deemed dyed skin admissible in offices or acceptable in general. Art is always audacious, and it necessitates self-confidence and -assurance on a level few careers ever require. In part because of that bravery, it inspires us in innumerable ways. This theme’s reignited an impulse to realize the creator I’ve always imagined myself. Hopefully I’ll find the determination to maintain my muse long enough to publish some sci fi or paint something significant. I just need to find the courage. —


Press PUBLISHER Dan Mathers


“The artist’s job is to be a witness to his time in history” –Robert Rauschenberg COLUMNISTS Becca Boyd Jamie Jones Andrea Mason DJ Romeo Rotary Club of West Chester Published By... Mathers Productions 24 W Market St, Ste 4 West Chester, PA 19382 610-344-3463 The WC Press is a monthly magazine distributed free of charge to more than 250 businesses. For a free digital subscription, visit For more information about specific distribution locations, visit

Worth Our no-nonsense


table of contents


#THEWCPRESS Our favorite social media posts from fans are getting printed


CAN’T-MISS FEBRUARY EVENTS Our guide to everything happening this month


OWNER OF THE MONTH Meet Tricia Cosgrove of Elevate Hair Studios


INSIDE THE ARTISTRY of West Chester’s tattoo gurus


WELCOME TO WEST CHESTER Jane and Katie Jennings bring gifting inspiration to town


WALK THIS WAY Get your art on at Gallery Walk

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TRASHED Carnival of Ruin explores sustainability through art PHOTOHUNT Find the five differences between two photos and win



@thewcpress #thewcpress Like and follow us on social media, then tag us in your posts for a chance get your work published here. Our favorite image each month (ď‚Ť) will earn its photographer a gift card to @barnabyswestchester ď‚Ť












Can’t-Miss March Events Every Sunday Family Dinner

Skip cooking and doing dishes and enjoy dinner with the whole family every Sunday at Limoncello from 4-9pm. Kids make their own pizzas for just $5 and Limoncello is BYOB Sunday–Tuesday. Reservations are not required but are suggested. Limoncello Ristorante & Caterers 9 N Walnut St


3/6-8 The Opus One Dance Project

Every year the Opus 1 Dance Project brings together an amazing and diverse group of professional dancers and students in the tri-state area. Some dancers use Opus as a stepping stone on their way to prestigious full-time performing careers with major companies, while others work as dance teachers, own their own studios or teach in the public and private school system in addition to many interesting and rewarding careers. Opus is a way for them to stay in touch with the performing arts community. This year’s piece is called Parla mi d’Amore and features a celebration of Italian love songs. The Friday show starts at 7pm, and Saturday and Sunday are at noon. Tickets are $5. Uptown! Knauer Performing Arts Center 226 N High St | 610.356.2787

3/7 11th Annual Celtic Crawl

The original West Chester St Paddy’s bar crawl will once again kick off at Barnaby’s (15 S High St) at noon and bounce from bar to bar throughout town until 6pm. There will be drink specials and music at every stop of the tour and guests should plan to dress in their most festive attire — prizes will be awarded for best costume. Tickets are $10 online and $20 at the door and include stops at Mas, Ram’s Head, and Kildare’s. Heyday Athletic

3/8 Full Moon Ritual and Meditation Join a full moon circle, where you will be led through a guided meditation and special ritual in celebration of the Full

Moon in Virgo. Dress comfortably and be prepared that the event may be on a rooftop, weather permitting. Bring your own yoga mat, meditation cushion and/ or blanket to sit on, as well as a journal to write in and an offering from nature for the altar if you desire. Space is limited to 25 participants, so register in advance only if you plan to attend. This is a free event running from 6-8pm, but there is a suggested donation of $20 for participants. The Prana House 225 E Market St

3/13 & 14 Tish’s Spring Fling

Get excited for a new season! Spring apparel is stocked at Tish, and they are celebrating with music, giveaways, cake and bubbly! Festivities run Friday 4-8pm and Saturday 10am-6pm. Tish Boutique 138 E Gay St | 610.692.7500

3/13 Better than Bacon Improv

Better Than Bacon performs in completely unscripted improvisational games, which are all driven by your suggestions and interactions. Every word and every action is completely made up on-the-spot; it’s never the same show twice! Tickets are $20 in

advance and $25 at the door. The show starts at 7:30pm. Uptown! Knauer Performing Arts Center 226 N High St | 610.356.2787

3/14 Missoula Children’s Theatre presents: The Emperor’s New Clothes

Returning to West Chester for the 13th year, the country’s preeminent professional children’s theatre company, the Missoula Children’s Theatre, returns to WCU and will once again recruit more than fifty local children to stage an original musical adaptation. Local children from Kindergarten through high school can audition on March 9 at 4:30pm at the Emilie K. Asplundh Concert Hall. Approximately 50 roles are available and no experience is necessary. There will be two showings, at 2pm and 5pm, and tickets are $10 for adults, $7 for students and seniors. Emilie K Asplundh Concert Hall 700 S High St

3/15 Spring Wedding Showcase

The West Chester Wedding Guide’s annual showcase offers the opportunity to see and sample the area’s premier vendors, while also having a great time. Everyone gets to enjoy two free drinks and sample delicious food, plus





a chance at some epic prizes. Engaged couples get in for just $5 per pair, and all additional attendees are $5 each. The show runs from 12-3pm at Radley Run Country Club (1100 Country Club Rd). West Chester Wedding Guide


3/15 Meals on Wheels Bingo Night

Meals on Wheels of Chester County is hosting a basket BINGO fundraising event at Stetson Middle School from 1-3:30pm. Your ticket gets you bingo cards for each game, and you’ll have the opportunity to purchase snacks, drinks, additional cards and 50/50 raffle tickets. Each bingo game prize is different, each valued from $25 to hundreds of dollars. All proceeds will be used to purchase hot, nutritious meals for those who are homebound due to illness, disability or advanced age. Tickets are $30 at the door or $25 if purchased in advance through their website. Stetson Middle School 1060 Wilmington Pk Meals on Wheels Chester County

3/19 More Than Your Jazz Standards

This two-singer showcase features vocalist Sara Michaels who is taking a fresh approach to jazz 'n' blues, exploring new arrangements and improvisational solos by The Terry Klinefelter Quintet, featuring jazz guitarist and arranger E.Shawn Qaissaunee. She will connect you to her life's timeline of inspirational songs of many genres and, along with Sharon Sable, present songs from her new full band recordings on the album Love Evermore. Tickets are $28 in advance and $33 at the door, with student tickets available for $15. The show starts at 7pm. Uptown! Knauer Performing Arts Center 226 N High St | 610.356.2787

3/21 The Hickman’s Art of Caring

The Hickman is excited to once again host the gala-like event, Art of Caring. Last year’s event was a great success, raising nearly $80,000 with over 225 people in attendance. This year’s theme is Roaring ‘20s and will feature live music from Jazz Cars, catering by John Serock and artists creating works in-person. The funds raised through Art of Caring support The Hickman’s Resident Assistance Fund. The

Fund provides financial assistance to residents who have depleted their resources and are no longer able to afford their room, board, and/or additional personal care services. Since opening in 1891, not one resident has left the community due to a monetary situation. Tickets are $100 and sponsorship opportunities are still available! Dress in 1920's style is optional. The party runs from 6-9pm. The Hickman Friends Senior Community 400 N Walnut St

3/26 Homemade Pasta Cooking Class

Ever sampled fresh pasta? Not the dry stuff in a box, but genuine fresh pasta? It will change your life. Cooking with Christine is an ongoing series hosted by Mangia Familgia, and this month she’s teaching students how to make their own pasta at home. Each participant will also get to make the sauce of their choice and dine on their hard work. The class runs from 6:30-9pm. Tickets are $70 and should be bought online in advance. Mangia Famiglia 208 Carter Drive, Ste 13B

3/26 Dueling Pianos

Dueling Pianos at Uptown! features a new duo of talented and entertaining pianists every month. The performance is always audience-driven; it's never the same show twice! The March performance kicks off at 7:30 pm, and tickets are $17 in advance, $20 at the door. Uptown! Knauer Performing Arts Center 226 N High St | 610.356.2787

3/27 – 4/12 Vanya & Sonia & Masha & Spike

West Chester’s own Resident Theatre Company presents an exciting show in which one can imagine Chekhov is alive and well in Bucks County, where adult siblings Vanya and Sonia reside in their old family home, mourning their lost dreams. When their movie star sister, Masha, arrives unexpectedly with her boy toy, Spike, the family is launched into a rollicking weekend of wit and absurdity, exposed nerves, and a lot of broken mugs. The show is recommended for ages 14+. Performances run Thursday – Sunday each week at a variety of times and prices, so check RTC’s website for more ticketing information. Resident Theatre Company Uptown! Knauer Performing Arts Center 226 N High St | 610.356.2787

3/29 Tamagawa University Taiko Drumming & Dance Troupe

Nearly 30 drummers and dancers from Tamagawa University, Japan, make a return appearance to WCU for an athletic and graceful performance that includes thundering Taiko drumming and Japanese folkloric dance. As one of the top-ranking taiko groups in Japan, their amazing stage show has received rave reviews from the New York Times and other media. Due to a growing number of fans, they return to the U.S. every year. Tickets start at $17 and the show starts at 7:30pm. Emilie K Asplundh Concert Hall 700 S High St



luxury 1 and 2 bedroom apartments available 124 E. Market Street, West Chester, PA 19382 (484) 872-2300 |




of the Month

Tricia Cosgrove makes sure customers get so much more than a cut and color when they walk into Elevate Hair Studio


et’s start with the name. Why’d you choose Elevate? The whole business is based on that concept: to raise up and improve, to lift people up. We wanted to elevate the experience of a salon, to elevate the people we serve, and to elevate each other and our community. You’ve even got your mission statement on the wall. It’s important to us. Our mission statement is: We are a team of creative professionals dedicated to service excellence and industry relevance through continuing education. We are committed to elevating our community through service, and to delivering empathetic and indulgent service to all of our guests. Was that concept the reason you chose to go out on your own? I wanted to create an environment where our guests could really, truly escape and feel pampered and indulged. I wanted to be able to build a team of artists, where they could grow and develop their talents and feel good about themselves while doing it. It’s been a good first 16 months? Absolutely. Things come up, water heat-

ers break, but we have a really good thing going, and we lift each other up. I guess you’ve got a good team. I do, and we’re a growing team. There are four of us, but by the time this goes to print, I hope to have six. We’re a level salon, meaning we’re made up of individuals in varying stages of education and growth — everywhere from assistants still in beauty school up to myself — and I’ve been a licensed hair dresser for 35 years. Has it been an interesting journey? I actually started out working in West Chester 35 years ago, but then I went to work for Paul Mitchell, so I was based in Richmond, VA and traveled a lot. I moved back here because I missed home, and that’s when I met my husband. After we had our third child in 1995, I became a stay at home mom, but I still cut hair in my kitchen. I came back to salon life when our kids made it to high school. It’s sort of come full circle, because I’m back working in West Chester, and in 2016 I became an artist educator for L’oreal Professionale, so I’m also traveling almost every weekend. Sounds like a lot to take on. It is, but it’s worth it. I teach cutting, styling, color

PHOTO Erik Weber INTERVIEW Dan Mathers and personal development. Personal development is something I love teaching, and it’s a big part of what Elevate is all about: the connection we make with our guest, and an experienced, indulgent service model. I understand you also focus on giving back to the community. We have an amazing program that I started as soon as we opened, and it’s a huge part of who we are. We run a program called Community Cuts, and every six to eight weeks we open our doors to everyone in the community who couldn’t otherwise afford our services. We work with Safe Harbor and Crime Victims Center, among many others. We have donuts and coffee, and we cut hair all day long — we have a couple dozen people in every time. I think that reflects who we are, as people and as a business. How so? The idea is that everybody deserves to feel good about themselves, whether they’re in the chair or behind it. It’s not just about how good they look, but about how good they feel.





Near and Far

Jamie Jones of WhirlAway Travel explores some travel options abroad and highlights their local counterparts

I’m taking a break from the norm this month to address something that’s been looming over travelers for the past couple of months. Cruise lines are canceling sailings, quarantining passengers, and floating aimlessly at sea trying to find a place to dock amidst rejection from countries not welcoming to potentially infected passengers. Clients are calling, worried about the spread of this horrific epidemic, Coronavirus. It’s been all over the news: over 75,000 infected, mostly in China. The virus has caused around 2,000 deaths — again, all but a small handful in China. Just a few years ago, the Zika virus was the biggest concern for travelers. In 2014, no one wanted to step foot on the continent of Africa because of the Ebola virus in Guinea, Sierra Leone, and Liberia. News media — I’m looking at you CNN, Fox, even Facebook and the like — do a wonderful job at making us aware of worldwide plights. But as my mom always told me, take everything with a grain of salt. As a reminder, influenza, a virus that has affected most readers and plagues us year after year, took over 60,000 lives last year alone. So why are we panicking now? I think part of it is because China, Africa, Belize, and others are… well, foreign to us. Epidemics create fear, and some may argue provide distraction from everything else that is going on. I’m not downplaying these horrific outbreaks. Anything that causes suffering and takes lives is awful, and people should be educated. I think that’s where the lines can get crossed, though. What is fact, and what creates unnecessary frenzy for ratings? As a travel advisor I’m asked my opinion during these epidemics, and while I love sharing it, when it comes to the health and safety of my clients I advise people go to the best sources for facts. The Centers for Disease Control and Prevention, World Health Organization, and Travel.State.Gov are all wonderful resources to get the facts to make a personal, informed travel decision. Another great resource is in our own backyard. Tucked into the Fern Hill Medical Center is Travel Medicine at the Occupational Health Center. Run by Chester County Hospital, the center focuses on international travel and uses verified sources, including the CDC, WHO, and the International Society of Travel Medicine, to educate travelers on the risks of specific areas they are visiting. The center also provides vaccines and preventative medicines when traveling to high-risk areas. As we travel more, the world gets a bit smaller. That can be scary when epidemics hit the news. The Coronavirus is no exception. While the media does a great job of informing us of worldwide issues, go a step further and seek facts from the above sources. If you’re traveling, schedule a visit to Travel Medicine at the Occupational Health Center to ensure that you’re protected and fully informed of the risks of your specific destination. And at the very least, heed my mom’s advice and take everything you hear with a grain of salt. You may be more likely to get sick from drinking too many Coronas than the Coronavirus. —





Market Forecast

Resident astrologer Kate Chadwick provides your planetary predictions with a particularly local twist Aries (3/21-4/9): Does anything slow you down, determined ram? Please make sure you’re getting enough R&R. March finances are a bit dicey, though—check out the new client specials they’re running at East Coast Float Spa and kill two birds. Taurus (4/20-5/20): February’s turbulence on the love front should smooth out this month, steady bull. This is an excellent time to remember that thoughtful bouquets aren’t just for Valentine’s Day — enlist Twig for something unique. Gemini (5/21-6/20) Communication is your jam, twin star, but Mercury retrograde continues to vex until March 10; arguments, particularly with partners, abound. Throw things at walls, not people, at Tilted Axes. Bonus: if single, you may meet someone there. Cancer (6/21-7/22) You’re all about family, dearest crab, but tensions run high at home this month. Sit down now and plan a day or two where you can drop the kids (and spouse) at Level 13, and take a break from everyone. Leo (7/23-8/22) It’s good to be the king, but easy to forget you didn’t get there alone. You’re killing it professionally, lively lion, but leadership without reciprocity is hollow. Book a private room and treat your team to dinner at Pietro’s. Virgo (8/23-9/22) You’re strung out by this retrograde, Mercury-ruled Virgo, but slow and steady wins the game. Just hold off on any big stuff, like buying (or selling) a house. The pros at Moore Maguire will be ready when you are. Libra (9/23-10/22) March will involve a bit of collaboration to keep career goals rolling forward, lovely Libra. Get out of the office and roll up your sleeves for a brainstorming sesh at Gemelli. Nothing motivates like gelato (and espresso). Scorpio (10/23-11/22) You're private by nature, dear Scorpio, but your friends will be key in helping you find love if you’re looking this month. Your career’s on a roll, so soothe your spiritual side with a visit to The Prana House. Sagittarius (11/23-12/21) March will be a bit bonkers until the 20th, archer friend—even for you. You’ll be surrounded by others on every front. Attend a show at Uptown! You can hang with people without having to—you know—talk to them. Capricorn (12/22-1/9) No one’s nose is closer to the grindstone than yours, industrious goat, and sometimes your fingers need to be forcibly peeled from the wheel. Remember: spending time with loved ones can be as simple as a walk in Everhart Park. Aquarius (1/20-2/18) Independence is key for you, sweet Aquarian. It’s time to seize control of your career. Keep your eyes on the prize and don’t forget to breathe. The folks at eat. drink. Om Yoga Café can help with the latter. Pisces (2/19-3/20) You’ll be uncharacteristically self-involved this month, darling Pisces, but it’s well-deserved. If you should step on a few feelings in the interest of self care, Kaly has a quirky selection of gifts (the socks omg!) to smooth things over. –





Tattoos Piercings Dermals Phone: 610-738-7666

Hours: Sun: 12-5:30 Mon thru Sat: 1-9



few ingredients are necessary for a good tattoo: an open mind, a meaningful idea, the ability to sit still for a long period of time while enduring a bit of discomfort, and, the most important component: a skilled artist. In that aspect, West Chester is an impressive place to begin a personal tattoo journey, as the area has drawn a group of creative and skilled artists over the last 20 years. Six tattoo studios have set up in and just outside of town. Seems crowded, but West Chester is like an ever-expanding canvas; there’s wealth, a university, and a growing population. Each studio provides a particular experience and ambience, envisioned by owners and artists who have been tattooing for more than a decade. Some of them have been around since the very beginning of the tattoo evolution into the mainstream, and they’ve watched, relieved and slightly surprised, as their studios filled up with more clients over the years. The artists credit the media, social and otherwise, for the uptick in popularity of the art form. Once regarded with distaste, evoking negative stereotypes and judgmental stares, it became intriguing when television shows like Miami Ink came out, and influential people showed off their tattoos on social media. One of the original artists who has watched this progression in West Chester right from the beginning is Keith Reed from X-Treme Ink on East Market Street. He's been there for nearly 20 years, beginning as an apprentice and eventually owning the place. He runs the studio like an oldschool street shop, which requires the ability to spontaneously tattoo clients who walk in. Keith says that West Chester’s tattoo scene began with that grungy, underground aura in 1992 with Night Train Tattoo, reserved for a community best regarded from a distance. When that closed down a decade later under the shadow of an overdose, the artists in the area started creating a new image for the industry. “There’s no more space for that nonsense,” says Keith. It’s worth noting this because, despite the increasing number of people getting tattoos, there’s still a slight stereotype that’s attached to inked skin.



@keithreedtattoos Keith ran with tattooing as a career when he unexpectedly landed an apprenticeship after college. He studied history and philosophy at West Chester University and expected it would take him into a teaching profession. But he always had an interest in tattooing. “My grandfather’s arms were covered in tattoos. He had the coolest arms. He was in the Navy and had the typical ones, like the eagle. I always wanted tattoos after that, and when I was 18, I started getting them.” Keith’s grandfather’s ink falls into the category of the “American traditional” style, with its origins in the sailor tattoo tradition of the 1700s. The pieces are distinctive in their use of vivid colors bordered by bold black lines and recurring symbols like roses and anchors. Though Keith can tattoo any style, traditional is his forte and preference, inspired by the “Sailor Jerry” symbols and designs on his grandfather. He has been tattooing for so long that he doesn’t care so much about the pieces as he does about the people. Over the years, many of his recurring clients have

ARTIST: Keith Reed CLIENT: Bob Rosato QUOTE: “I’ve been a client for 10 years. Keith and I have a barter system: I train him [at the gym] and he tattoos me. His work is influenced by the American traditional style — bold lines and packing in the color — but he puts his own flare on things.”

ARTIST: Douglas J CLIENT: Toby Erlichman QUOTE: “Douglas was recommended to me by several people whose tattoos I had admired. I gave him three photos of my best friend in the whole world, Holden. Douglas brought Holden to life right before my very eyes!” and style ebbs and flows by what is cool in pop culture.” @highrollerstattoostudiowc become great friends, and Keith has created his own community, including those he mentors in the shop. Anthony Montone has been working with Keith since 2010 at X-Treme Ink. He began as an apprentice and shares that when he began his apprenticeship, Keith, “told me not worry about the money, but to worry about making sure that [every] tattoo is good.” Keith sees the tattoo culture of West Chester as quite vibrant. To be an in-demand artist, in any medium, requires versatility. Shifting trends and new styles gaining popularity in the tattooing world over the years have made these West Chester artists ready to cater to the demand with skill and creativity. “The great thing about West Chester is that there’s at least one artist in every shop who's worth getting tattooed by,” says Keith. “That’s pretty awesome.” A particularly versatile artist who seeks to master as many styles as he can is Douglas J of High Rollers. Five years after X-Treme Ink opened, Damian’s City Tattoos, one of the shops that popped up after Night Train in 2003, was bought by

Jay Riley, who renamed it High Rollers in 2005. Jay is a piercer, and still in the industry today, and Douglas remains the shop’s tattoo artist. Douglas began tattooing after his sophomore year of college, putting his graphic design major towards a more creative and adventurous use. He left school and began an apprenticeship in Delaware but moved to West Chester when he met Damian in 2003, who became an important mentor to him. His second apprenticeship led to a job, and he has been in the borough since, following along with the trends of the area.

“tthe number of people tattooing in this town has tripled...” “In 2003 ‘new school’ and tribal were popular and by 2005, American traditional took over," he told us. "2006 was a whole lot of koi fish, and 2008 was back to clipper ships and nautical stars. 2009 was lip tattoos and horror portraits. Each trend

Douglas has tattooed 15,000 to 20,000 pieces in his career, many memorable, but he also values building rapport with the clients. High Rollers owner Jay says, “Doug is an incredible and diversified artist who has a talent to allow him to transform clients’ ideas into reality. He’s also very personable and able to work side by side with a client to make them feel comfortable in every part of the tattoo process.” His portfolio’s an amalgam of shades and designs—that’s his strength as an artist. “My personal tattoo style is the fact that I can go from realism, to traditional, to fine line, to black work, to geometric, to neo traditional, to Polynesian, to watercolor without a single hitch in my step.” He notes that the evolution of the tattoo industry has primarily been about styles. But other than that, Douglas says, nothing has really changed since he began, except, “The number of people tattooing in this town has tripled, and Pinterest has replaced flash racks on the walls.” In this age of social media, inspiration is easy to come by. But there is still a lot of space for bold originality. Shannon Brown of Local Color and Piercings on West Chester Pike has come across many global artists who have inspired her, but she enjoys experimenting with her art. She





@shannon_brown_art arrived in West Chester with her husband Mike, who is also a tattoo artist, in 2004, and began working at Local Color. They bought the shop in 2016. She wants her clients to think beyond the designs that they’ve seen online. Her consultations about personal tattoos focus on digging into memories rather than in profiles online. A particular anecdote shows Shannon’s approach: when a client came in for a tattoo of roman numerals marking the date of birth and the day of passing of a loved one, Shannon encouraged her to delve further.

“the great thing about west chester is that there’s at least one artist in every shop who’s worth getting tattooed by...” “She’s always going to remember that day [her loved one] passed away,” says Shannon, “But I asked her to think deeper of a memory that’ll make her smile when

she looks at the tattoo, rather than upsetting her.” Not only does she strive to help clients personalize their tattoos as much as they can, but she also personalizes the design. Whenever a client comes in with a stock design pulled from the internet, she tries to make it her own. If she’s asked to tattoo botanicals, a personal preference, she pulls images from her own garden. Her husband, Mike, notes that, “Shannon can get the smaller details in tattoos,” as she enjoys intricate mandala designs, in both black and color. While many styles in tattoo art are heavy on the black lines, she relies on color and intricate detail in her work. Her portfolio is brilliant, full of watercolor and gradient work, a skill that she learned from a years-ago mentor, and that she passes onto her apprentices. She considers the biggest difference in tattooing now and when she began to be the technological advances. In 2004, she used to mix powdered pigments with a particular liquid to make the ink. It’s a lost art now, she says. But that careful deliberation and dedication to learning the fine

ARTIST: Shannon Brown CLIENT: Amber Raup QUOTE: “My one sleeve was freehanded directly onto my arm — this is how talented she is and how much faith I have in her work. She has the ability to take a vision I have in my head and create a work of art that is not only more than I could imagine, but incredibly detail-oriented.” details of the trade is, she believes, what makes her the artist she is today. There’s one particular style of tattooing that requires consistent practice and refinement. Tattooing portraits of people and animals is a skill all its own. Drew Harris, owner of Double Diamond on Church Street, began getting his tattoos at one of the original studios in town, Wizard and Company, run by Drew’s mentor Bill Patterson (“The Wizard”). He was offered a job there right after high school in 2004, doing administrative work. Patterson later offered him an apprenticeship and Drew began creating a style for himself. Drew moved to Downingtown along with Wizard and Company, but he came back to West Chester to set up Double Diamond in 2008. The short version of





the story, as Drew puts it, is one of very little money invested into a beautiful studio and nonstop tattooing for years. Now, he’s thinking of expanding his shop to accommodate more artists. He is known for his black and grey realism work; photographic renditions like those depicting statues of Grecian gods have won him national awards. Drew has always gravitated towards black and grey work because that's what came naturally to him. But despite the spitting imagery sought by his clients, there is always room to experiment and get creative. He often takes the ideas that clients would bring him and create something unique on Photoshop, the primary tool for realism artists. "If a client comes in for a lion tattoo, there's always that one lion picture that everyone knows. But I'm going to take the eye from one lion and a mouth from another lion, and I'll Frankenstein a lion together." Drew notes that the development of the art’s technology, such as new needle tech and the use of software like Photoshop, has given the art many more possibilities. "You know how people say they get addicted to getting tattoos? It's the same for tattoo artists. We get addicted to making them. I'll come home and see a photo and think about how that could become a tattoo, like ‘What kind of needles do I use for that?’” Makaela, an apprentice at the studio, describes Drew as upbeat, always happy, always in a good mood. She says that he taught her that being a tattoo artist is not only about the art, but also about being a people person. Perhaps that is how the general perception of tattoos has changed so drastically in such a short period of time: it’s been the artists who set the scene. Drew also sees social media as a big source of inspiration. As he works towards creating his own surrealist style, he takes notes of what he sees around the world. He will pull from artists who specialize in neo-traditional tattoos, which are more detailed than their predecessors and experiment with photographic effects like the double exposure. It’s like he is not only Frankensteining lions on Photoshop, but his own style as well.

@dr.drewtat2 The kind of shading work required to capture the shadows of a beard or the eyes of a loved one is a skill that Chris Schatz has also honed since he began tattooing 16 years ago. He opened Gentleman Jack’s Tattoo Gallery on East Market Street in 2015, picking West Chester because of its high tattoo demand and his affinity for the town. He started his apprenticeship immediately after high school, simply because he enjoyed drawing and he loved tattoos, which he started getting at 18. “No one wants to admit it, but we all liked tattoos because they look cool,” says Chris. He started by cutting his teeth in a street shop, and as he learned, he realized he had an interest in black and white portrait tattoos in the realism style, which he taught himself. “I had a lot of brave friends!” he says. Realism is as it seems, copying exactly what’s on a photograph or image onto skin. His portraits today are stunning renditions, and he takes the process of tattooing portraits very seriously. “You just really want to do a good job with portraits, because they’re so personal,” he says.

ARTIST: Drew Harris CLIENT: Jim Devenny (Drew’s Stepdad) QUOTE: “The one thing that makes me proud of him is that he always puts his clients first and makes sure they go home happy with the work that was done”





@chrisschatztattoos When Chris isn’t tattooing, he’s focusing on painting. He is particularly interested in fine art, and it has helped his tattooing as well, especially in terms of how human faces are structured and shadowed. He sees how technology has positively affected the industry and has especially helped the younger generations in tattooing. “With technology, the progression [in learning] is faster,” Chris says. His apprentices have access to much more than the books that he started out with, and he has seen them improve quickly in a short period of time. He has noticed that his own style is picking up new techniques from what he comes across from other realism artists. Since he has been tattooing for so long, he is especially amazed at how the stigma has “fallen to the wayside” because of increased exposure for the art in the media. Chris’s relief is definitely echoed in the tattooing community; once a group regarded negatively, their work is now respected and their calendars booked months in advance.

“no one wants to admit it, but we all liked tattoos because they look cool...” These five artists have made it evident that the most notable evolution in the industry is the access to new information about trends, styles, and technology. They are constantly learning and remain inspired by the global designs and styles they come across. Though the general public has become more open to the art, there is still a bit of judgment passed from time to time. These local artists are working hard to normalize the industry and ensure that it's welcoming to those interested in getting inked. The art is rooted in distinct tradition, and despite the awakening it has had—both in West Chester and nationally—over the last couple of decades, it began with the symbolism of living life with a deep sense of individualism and adventure. These practicing artists in West Chester know that's worth keeping in mind as its most distinct feature.

ARTIST: Chris Schatz CLIENT: Tim Hopkins QUOTE: “Chris can do any style of tattooing. I like old school horror movie characters so I have a lot of those. My first tattoo by Chris was an Evil Dead [character]. Chris is an old school horror fan too, so that’s probably why we kept drifting towards each other.”





Welcome to West Chester

Mother-daughter duo Jane and Katie Jennings bring gifting inspiration to town at Thistle be Perfect

PHOTO Erik Weber INTERVIEW Dan Mathers


hat made you decide to open a gift shop? Katie: I worked at another, similar store for more than eight years. I slowly grew into a manager role where I was doing inventory, buying, and handling customer service. I was really shy when I got into costumer service, and this opened me up and got me out of my shell. It was thrilling and exciting for me. I knew I wanted to continue the journey and doing it with my mom would be fantastic. I wanted to bring the passion I’d built for the business to my own shop in West Chester. Jane: My background is not in retail, but we’re a family of entrepreneurs, and I’ve been doing consulting work running my own business for years, and I’m always interested in learning. With Katie’s experience in supply chain and merchandising, I thought she could take the lead running the store, and with my experience I could run the back end. How’d you decide on what you’d be carrying? Katie: My goal in all of this was to make sure we had something for everyone, with a variety from style to price point. We even have a section for men, so

when ladies come in with their significant others, they can browse, too. What are some of the most popular items? Katie: There are so many, like handmade pottery, or jewelry from delicate designs to statement pieces. We have scarves, accessories and handbags, plus an entire spa section with lotions and soaps and candles. It’s all smallbatch work from small companies. That sounds like a lot to manage! Jane: We carry 50 different artists right now, and everything is handmade, and 10 of the artists are local. We are constantly looking to increase the number of local artisans, so we welcome artists to come by and bring their collections. More often than not we end up buying something when an artist stops in, so, “Send local artists our way,” is what we’re always telling people. Why West Chester? Katie: I grew up here — I went to Glen Acres Elementary, I attended WCU, and I lived on Miner Street. I appreciate the walkability and how everyone is so friendly. It’s such a close-knit, supportive community, and I love how the town itself offers something

new with each turn; it seems there are never-ending possibilities. We wanted to be a bigger part of this community. Do you feel that’s working? Jane: Absolutely. Once a month we always have a special night that’s a benefit to the community. Recently we had “Date/ Boo/Bae/BFF Night” where we served wine and charcuterie, and we had 10% off the entire store. We also recently partnered with Chester County Hospital’s prenatal division and did an event along with Phineas Gage and Tish where we collected wipes, diapers and formula, and we donated 10% of our sales. Is the mother-daughter dynamic working out? Katie: At first we went a little crazy with buying... Jane: [laughing] ...I wanted to try buying, but what I bought didn’t sell! So I turned it back to Katie, and what she buys flies out the door. Katie: We have a lot of fun together and have always been best friends. Of course there will be moments of stress, but we love each other's company and sharing this experience together is amazing.





Design Dilemmas Andrea Mason of Andrea Mason Design is a professional interior designer who wants to help you upgrade your space

Artwork placement is the finishing touch to any room. There are so many ways you can throw off a space if one piece is hung too high, too low, or too close to another. Let’s give wall decor the respect it deserves and do it right the first time. Here are a few ways to ensure you hang your artwork correctly. Size: Finding the right piece for a wall can be tricky. You want to leave around 9”-12” from the wall, window, or any object next to the artwork. You want to fill the space in, so if your piece isn’t large enough, consider a grouping. Think outside the art box for objects to help fill the allotted space, such as a clock, wall sconce, mirrors, and tapestries. Another rule of thumb is that artwork should not be wider than the furniture, i.e. the console, mantel, or sofa, over which it’s being placed. An ideal fit would be about 3/4 of the width of the furniture that it hangs over. Spacing: When placing two or three pieces of the same size aligned in a straight line horizontally or vertically, you want about 6” of space between them. If you are hanging two rows of art such as a grouping of four, six, or eight, you want 2”-3” in between each frame. This same rule applies when you are doing an asymmetrical grouping or collage. If it’s two or three pieces, you will want about 6” separating them; for a larger grouping you want them closer together at around 2”-3”. Height: If you are working with a single piece, hang the artwork centered on the wall. Make sure to hang it at eye level, meaning that the center of the piece should be about 56”-60” from the floor. If you are hanging a grouping of wall decor, treat the grouping as one object, and center that group at eye level. Gallery Wall: This is my favorite way to display art. It can be anywhere from three pieces to filling an entire wall. You can take artwork with different styles, mediums, frames, and sizes, and group them together for a creative, artsy feel that looks amazing. Start by laying out your selected objects on the floor. Then take some paper and cut it to the size of the artwork. Use painter’s tape to stick the cutouts on the wall in the order you want them in. Once you’ve decided, replace the paper with the actual artwork. It’s a process, but ensures that the gallery wall is exactly how you envisioned it with correct spacing and positioning. Pro Tips: Measure and then measure again! You can never be too sure when hanging artwork and it’s better to have one hole in your wall than multiple ones. Get creative! Mix frame finishes and mediums; not everything has to look exactly the same. By stepping out of your comfort zone you’ll create something with personality and interest. Don’t forget to support your local artists! How amazing would it be to showcase art that tells a story rather than purchasing from a big box store? –



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Get Your Art on at Gallery Walk


his winter hasn’t necessarily been one for the books—there seems to have been a distinct lack of snow— and we’re probably all anticipating the longer, sunnier, promising days of spring, and the renewal that comes with it. Especially here in the Northeast, where winter is often personified with a soul-sucking gray that just can’t be avoided, spring means more than seasonal blooms and the reemergence of your favorite outdoor furniture; spring means the return of patio dining at your favorite borough eateries, new flavors of gelato to try at Gemelli, and of course, the bi-annual and alway-anticipated Greater West Chester Chamber Gallery Walk, presented by Sunset Hill Jewelers & Fine Arts Gallery, being held this spring on the first of May. If you’re new to the borough, or you need a refresher, Gallery Walk is a onenight-only art event that occurs on the first Friday of both October and May each year. Gallery Walk features a series of pop-up art shows at various venues—some traditional, some unexpected—throughout downtown West Chester, and it’s a winwin-win for artists, business owners, and residents.

In the beginning The idea came to fruition 30 years ago when Sandy Riper of Sunset Hill Jewelers & Fine Arts Gallery was thinking about how to get people to visit the gallery. In addition to owning her own business, Riper was then chair of the retail committee and on the board of the West Chester Chamber of Commerce. “My art gallery came to be in 1983 when artist Harry Dunn gave me the idea to use the second floor of Sunset Hill Jewelers as a gallery,” says Riper. “I first got the idea for The West Chester Gallery Walk in the early 1990s. At that time West Chester had over 10 actual galleries and art studios. Harry and I were brainstorming promotional ideas for future art exhibits when he suggested the idea of a Gallery Walk. This was already happening in Philadelphia at the time, and with all our galleries within



walking distance of each other it seemed like an idea that would work.” Riper was correct. Not only was it an idea that worked, but one that had staying power. The event has now been around longer than many of it’s attendants, and through it all, it’s been a celebration of art and West Chester. And while the concept has stayed the same, there have been some adjustments over the years. “The first Gallery Walk took place the first week of June when the Chamber of Commerce of Greater West Chester had planned a week of events that were happening in all different parts of West Chester. That first Friday was dedicated to the Gallery Walk,” says Riper. “For a short time, we tried the first Friday of every month, but (that) seemed to dilute the impact of

the event. So we went to a twice-a-year schedule. It’s been very successful, and the artists are happy with the amount of people who attend.” John Hannafin, an impressionistic oil painter of historic West Chester architecture, Chester County landscape and travel paintings, has participated in the Gallery Walk since 2007. “I started doing them at the Chester County Historical Society, a very large venue that drew 1,000 people to my very first art show,” says Hannafin. These days, Hannafin prefers more lowkey, open studios but has enjoyed hosting shows at the Knauer Center for the Performing Arts, the Warner Hotel, align. Space in the Farmer’s & Mechanics building, and the historic bank space currently occupied by Wells Fargo.

artowork displayed at

Chestnut Square apartments

“So for me it has changed a lot depending on the project and venue,” says Hannafin. “And it has also grown in size and popularity through the years.” While small adjustments have come and gone—one year they utilized a passport system to encourage guests to visit each venue on the Gallery Walk—one thing has remained a constant: The Gallery Walk is an event that is as special as West Chester itself. “We have a lot of character and history in West Chester. It’s very unique,” says Riper. “West Chester is very fortunate to be the center for such a supportive art community, just another incredible asset of our town. The quality of art is amazing, and the quantity of talented local artists who participate is staggering.”

What is a Gallery Walk? “Gallery Walk is a public event where everyone is invited to walk approximately six square blocks of downtown West Chester,” says Riper. “You can follow a map and visit galleries, shops, restaurants and one-night venues where each exhibit is being held.” “Typically, there are 30 to 35 stops on the tour,” says Dave Fairman, Director of Membership of the Greater West Chester Chamber of Commerce. “It’s an opportunity for the Chamber to focus our energies and to steer guests downtown.” While venues for the Gallery Walk include the usual suspects—art galleries, including The 5 Senses; The Art Trust Gallery at Meridian Bank; Church Street Gal-

lery; Erica Brown Studio; Old Soul Décor; and Visual Expansion Gallery, as well as Sunset Hill—there are plenty of unexpected places hosting pop up art shows. Though the list changes every year, previous Gallery Walk venues have included places as diverse as La Chic Boutique, Chester County Cat Hospital, TONO Architects, LLC, and Love Again Local sandwich shop. “Any retail shop downtown that is also a Chamber member is offered an opportunity to host,” says Fairman. So how do guests tackle seeing everything with an event that large in the space of a few hours? Apparently, there are a few ways. “I’ve seen some people with a map in their hand trying to get to every single





Gallery Walk is the brainchild of

Sandy Riper, owner of

Sunset Hill Jewelers & Fine Arts Gallery

place, others trying to map their route from the beginning,” says Fairman, who says others approach with a "divide and conquer" plan, attending as a group with no expectation of staying together for the walk but every intention of meeting back up after for a 9pm dinner reservation when it ends—or maybe some gelato. “We like to support the artists and the Chamber,” says Vincenzo Tettamanti of Gemelli Artisanal Gelato & Dessert Café, which has hosted events during Gallery Walk in the past. “In a small town like this, it’s one of the cool events that happens a couple times a year, year after year, in a city that appreciates history and culture. We get a new artist each time, and we’re busy (at Gemelli) no matter what, so they get big exposure. It’s just being a part of the experience.” In addition to offering hosting opportunities to member businesses, the Chamber takes care of the artist application and selection process and does the work of pairing appropriate artists with venues for the shows—no small feat considering how many artists participate in the event. “The Gallery Walk on average rep-

resents 25 to 50 local artists,” says Riper. “(There are) many different mediums in painting, photography and sculpture.”

Typically, there are 30 to 35 stops on the tour... The pairing isn’t done with a willy-nilly approach, either. The Chamber takes great care in their pairings, and artists and venues are often happily surprised with the match. “They matched me up with the Chester County Cat Hospital,” said Kaity Dempsey, an acrylic, pencil and watercolor artist who specializes in paintings of rescue animals. “Everyone who came was interested in the message. It was definitely a fun night. I loved it—there was a big turnout, a constant flow of people.” For Dempsey, the night aligned perfectly with her goals of promoting awareness of rescue animals with her art. In addition to making sales—a portion of all of her sales is given back to rescue organizations—she’s meeting like-minded people. “I’d definitely

do it again,” says Dempsey. “And the staff of the cat hospital was great.” Once artists and venues are paired up, the Chamber does the overall event promotion—providing participating artists and venues with shared digital resources, an event hashtag, and on the night of the event, walking maps—all in an effort to show off a little bit of what makes West Chester so great. While the Chamber promotes the event as a whole, artists and venues often utilize their own networks to help spread the word.“Some galleries send out invitations and have more details about their artists on their websites,” says Riper.

What can I expect? “Artists prepare all year for these exhibits,” says Riper. “Their works are for sale and the public gets to actually meet the artists and ask questions, to have an actual experience you can’t get at a museum or from looking at images online.” That experience is something the artists enjoy as well. “A gallery walk brings in people who would never go to a gallery



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The first floor of is transformed into a lounge and gallery

and gets them exposed to artwork,” says Greg Bennett, whose professional painting career has spanned 40 years. A realist and impressionist artist from Cape May County who specializes in landscapes and marine-related motifs, Bennett participated in Gallery Walk last autumn after meeting Sandy Riper in Cape May. “A highlight of the show was a teacher who was bringing his students in from the college. I could see he appreciated my approach and the history of my education,” says Bennett. Melissa Husted-Sherman, an artist from Swarthmore who focuses on oil on panels, participated in her first Gallery Walk last year, despite being an artist for decades. “I saw a call for artists somewhere and applied. I didn’t know what to expect — it wasn’t for an extended period of time, just a few hours,” says Husted-Sherman. She was paired with Artistic Eyewear, and had a memorable time with both the people on the walk and the venue staff. “It was an interesting challenge, but we had a blast,” says Husted-Sherman, of finding space to display her art in a shop where

eyeglasses occupy most of the wall space. “It was fun to interact with the visitors as they went through. People tried on glasses like mad, too, which was probably good for the store as well. Everyone was very engaged with it—I would recommend it.” And while there’s an opportunity to engage with the artists, there’s no pressure to do so. “The Gallery Walk gives everyone a visual experience to think outside of everyday life, to look at things that can make you happy, remind you of some place or time in your life, or to merely be amazed by the skill and talent the artist used to create an image so real, colorful, or thought provoking,” says Riper. “You get people who would not normally go to a gallery because it’s also like an event for the town,” says Al Moretti, a musician and acrylic painter who focuses on musical icons and themes that have influenced his life. Moretti, a West Chester resident, has participated in the Gallery Walk in the past, and plans to do it again. “There’s so much fresh and new art being produced,” he said. “It’s exciting to meet new people

and see a great variety of art all at once. And maybe finding something that excites you, because art is so personal.” “I’ve always found the audiences very receptive, and they always reignite my inspiration,” says John Hannafin. “I always see familiar faces, which is awesome for the eternal support, but there are always new faces, too, which is refreshing.” As for what kind of art you may find at Gallery Walk, the options are endless. “There are all kinds and types of mediums,” says Fairman. “Painters, sculptors, ceramicists, photographers…we find them all a home.”

Out on the town Art may take center stage, but a fun night out plays a close second. If you’ve ever walked around a several-block area when lots of other people are doing the same thing—whether it’s for holiday shopping, an outdoor market, or a festival—you know that the reason you’re there in the first place almost becomes secondary to the excitement in the air.





They’re known for décor, so it’s fitting

Old Soul Decor There’s a distinct hustle and bustle to community events like this, where you’re running into friends new and old, sharing stories of what you’ve seen and where, and grabbing nibbles at your favorite eateries as you cavort through town. The Gallery Walk is no exception. “The tagline of the event is ‘Bring Friends and Make an Evening of It’,” says Fairman. “Our members benefit as well as West Chester in general. There’s an economic impact. Restaurants will be booked at 9pm—there are lots of 9pm reservations that night.” “It’s a lot of fun,” says West Chester resident Laura Fletcher of the Gallery Walk. “Sunset Hill Jewelers usually has fine art, there’s one bar that has funky, scary stuff, and Visual Expansion Gallery has pretty, traditional art. There’s wine and cheese and crackers.” “It’s a social event for many, with friends and family who want to experience it together,” says Riper, who adds that it’s also a great date night. “Most galleries and hosts offer refreshments.” Wine may be available, but best behav-

ior is also expected, even from children, who are absolutely welcome. “It’s a great way to expose kids to something they’ve never seen,” says Riper, who does point out one important lesson. “There is a bit of art gallery etiquette that everyone should know, as our mothers taught us as small children: ‘Don’t touch.’” While you’re making a night of it—and we know you will—make a night of it for the artists too. “The thing that can get lost is that people need to have a mindset that maybe they will buy a piece of art tonight,” says Riper. Don’t have thousands of dollars to invest in art? Not to worry—there’s something for everyone. “Many of the artists are professional and well-known, but some are first-time exhibitors,” says Riper. “The art can sell for anywhere from thousands of dollars to very affordable portfolio pieces under $100 that are still original.” The advantage, of course, to purchasing art at Gallery Walk is the connection and relationship you can make with not just the work, but also the artist.

are a stop along the walk

I’ve always found the audiences very receptive, and they always reignite my inspiration... ”When you purchase a piece of art, you take that experience home with you, and it becomes part of your story. You want to purchase something that makes you smile, that you would look at over and over again and smile,” says Riper, adding, “I am most hopeful that with the continued interest in this event, more people take this opportunity to become collectors. Support your local artists and purchase a piece of art!” The 2020 Greater West Chester Chamber Gallery Walk Presented by Sunset Hill Jewelers & Fine Arts Gallery will take place on May 1 and October 2, 2020, from 5-9pm, rain or shine (umbrellas provided by Market Street Print). The event is free and open to the public.






Becca Boyd shares tips on life and cooking on her blog at


March can be mean. We’ve had enough “cozy nights in,” but the weather doesn’t seem to care. This squash dish is a favorite of mine, but if pasta swaps aren’t your thing, sub in spaghetti. I’m almost hesitant to share my scone recipe, as I’ve acquired a reputation for them. They’ll win you friends, they’re that good. – Spaghetti Squash with Beef, Mushrooms & Spinach serves 4 1 lg. spaghetti squash, stemmed 1 1/3 lb. grass-fed ground beef 1 1/2 tsp. kosher salt, divided 20 oz. white button mushrooms, stemmed and sliced 1 lg. white onion, thinly sliced

1 Tbsp. olive oil 3 cloves garlic, minced 6 oz. fresh baby spinach 1/4 c. finely chopped fresh parsley 1/4 c. finely chopped fresh basil 1/3 c. Parmesan or Pecorino

1. Heat oven to 400F. Spray a baking sheet with nonstick spray and cut squash horizontally or vertically. Remove and discard seeds. Place squash on baking sheet and bake 45 minutes, turning halfway. 2. Sauté beef in large skillet. Drain fat. Add 1 tsp. of the salt. Stir and remove to bowl. 3. Add mushrooms to empty pan and sauté over medium-high heat until liquid evaporates. Sauté onions until soft. 4. Add 1 Tbsp. olive oil to pan with mushrooms. Add onions and garlic, then 1/2 tsp. salt. Sauté until golden brown, stirring occasionally. 5. Add spinach and toss until wilted. Add meat back to pan. 6. When squash is cool enough to handle, remove strings with fork. Add to pan and stir. Add most of the herbs and cheese and stir to combine. 7. Serve with additional cheese and olive oil, if desired, and remaining herbs. Big Batch Glazed Cranberry Orange Scones makes 16 Scones 3 c. all-purpose flour 1/3 c. sugar 2 1/2 tsp. baking powder 1 tsp. salt 1/2 tsp. baking soda zest of 1 orange

3/4 c. unsalted, chilled butter 3/4 c. dried cranberries 1 c. + 2 Tbsp. buttermilk Glaze 2 tbsp. orange juice Powdered sugar

1. Heat oven to 400F. Whisk flour, sugar, baking powder, salt, baking soda, and zest in a mixing bowl. 2. Cut in butter until mixture resembles cornmeal and sticks together when pinched. 3. Stir in cranberries, then buttermilk until dough comes together. 4. Knead dough gently on floured countertop. Divide in half and pat each half into 1-inch high rounds. 5. Slice each round into 8 triangles and place on parchment-lined baking sheet. 6. Place in preheated oven for 15-20 minutes or until beginning to brown. Remove and let cool while making glaze. 7. Glaze: squeeze juice into a mixing bowl. Gradually whisk in powdered sugar (about 1 c.) until desired consistency; add more juice or sugar depending on consistency preference. Spoon onto tops and spread. MARCH 2020 THEWCPRESS.COM



In West Chester Parks and Recreation














l o a f ruin v i n r a c E x p l o r e s S u st a i n a b i l it y T h r o u gh T h e at r e , D a n c e , a n d Ye s ‌ G a r b a g e story by Je s s e P iers ol



The t i gh t rop e w al k er

“We should see life not as it is, or as it should be, but how it is in our dreams.” –Charlie Bags, The Barker Carnival of Ruin


he shadow of the throwaway society we’ve constructed for ourselves threatens to engulf us. In Michael Renner’s 2015 book Vital Signs: The Trends That Are Shaping Our Future, Gaelle Gourmelon notes that approximately 10 to 20 million tons of plastic end up in the oceans each year. “Including financial losses by fisheries and tourism as well as time spent cleaning beaches, $13 billion a year is lost in environmental damage by plastics to marine ecosystems,” Gourmelon writes. “Once in the ocean, plastic does not go away, instead breaking down into small pieces that are ingested by sea life and transferred up the food chain, carrying chemical pollutants from prey to predator.” She cites a study estimating that at least 5.25 trillion plastic particles weigh-

ing 268,940 tons currently float in the world’s oceans. Bangladesh was the first country to ban single-use plastic bags all the way back in 2002, as noted by Alice Klein in her August 10, 2018 article in New Scientist. Here in the United States, legislation has been popping up at the state level, with California leading the charge, but more frequently at the local level, such as West Chester’s own ban of single-use plastic bags and straws that officially kicks off on July 2, 2020, and Narberth’s ban that went into effect in 2019. Certainly, these efforts are a start, but what else can be done to tame this rising tide of trash? An innovative new endeavor is on the horizon from a trio of professors in the Department of Theatre and Dance at West Chester University. Part play and part performance art, Carnival of Ruin aims to build awareness about our ever-expanding cycle of consumption and disposal while simultaneously serving as part of the solution to the problem.

THE IDEA Carnival founders describe the project as a “multi-disciplinary work that underscores sustainable practices and the zerowaste movement, where dance, scenery, sound, and costume are used to explore the correlation between society and a healthy planet.” The interactive tale is told through the eyes of Carnival Barker Charlie Bags, who experiences a "sustainability awakening,” and moves the audience through several acts that would typically take place at an old-school carnival, including feats of strength, a lion tamer, a fortune teller, and even a mermaid. The nostalgic carnival theme is supported by the costumes and the set itself, all of which are designed and constructed from single-use plastic items and other post-consumer waste. “This whole project evolved from a costume made out of trash bags,” explains Constance Case, Associate Professor of Costume Design and Technology. “It turned into so much more. We said, ‘let’s make more costumes. Let’s add dancers. Let’s apply for a grant.' We are making



people see trash differently. We are making people see things differently, so they can do things differently.” The Costumes From that one costume springing forth from Case’s imagination and sustainability-tinged ethos grew an ensemble, all made of cast-off or recycled items. The Strong Person wears a secondhand leopard-print leotard scavenged from a prior project, and her belt and cuffs are both made of old bicycle tubes salvaged from a local bike shop. The Lion’s mane is assembled from old plastic and paper bags. The Lion Tamer carries a whip that’s made out of….wait for it….Cool Whip containers. Target Girl wears a corset made of straws and a bustle crafted from bubble wrap. Snake Woman’s dress is constructed of ties, and in a pivotal scene, the dress falls away to reveal her spine, a startling assembly of electronic trash that inhabits the space where her healthy snake spine should be. It’s no secret that the costumes are not exactly comfortable. Gretchen StudlienWebb, a faculty member and dance minor coordinator in the Department of Theatre and Dance and one third of the Carnival of Ruin founding triumvirate, points out that the movement of characters is defined by their costumes, which are by nature restrictive. Featuring hundreds of metal bottle caps, the Knife Thrower’s jacket is so heavy that actor James Saracina will need a handler to help him remove it during the performance. The design process has been an evolution of ideas and experimentation as vision met reality. For example, the Fortune Teller was originally conceptualized to wear a skirt made of plastic bottle tops, but that didn’t work out, so they moved onto CDs. “They’re shinier and more hypnotic than bottle caps, anyway,” says Case, “so it worked out even better.”

THE TEAM “The role of the artist is to reflect what is happening in society. It is a mirror image,” posits Maria Urrutia, Professor of Dance in the Department of Theatre of Dance and Carnival co-founder. “When I signed on to be an artist, that’s what I wanted to do.” Case makes it clear that the right mix of people is what brought Carnival of Ruin



A co nc ep t s ke t c h of The Barker this far. “You’ve got to have the right people, with great energy. You have to have people around you who you like to be with, because it’s hard work, and we really need you to be here.” Urrutia concurs. “One of the things about this project is that it’s all experimental. Everything about it is an experiment. We can trust that it will be successful because it’s us. And it will be.” “People throw around the word ‘collaboration.’ For us, we’ve found a collaboration so deep that you can’t find where one things breaks and another one opens up,” she continues. “There’s not just one leader, and there is trust in knowing we can bring something to the table, even if it’s not a good idea.” Case chimes in. “It’s the most collaborative project I’ve ever worked on. At this point, I couldn’t say whose idea was

whose.” Collaboration extends beyond the trio, too. Although they initially storyboarded the project, they needed help after that. “We hired a scriptwriter, because we’re dancers, not scriptwriters,” recounts Studlien-Webb. WCU students take center stage. Theatre Arts major Emma Johnson is playing the characters Sophie and Alberta. Graduating in the spring, she says the project has inspired her to find more ways to be sustainable in her own life. Urrutia had seen Johnson in a production of My Fair Lady at WCU and was impressed by her ability to move between contemporary and historical space. “For instance, in a historical context, you had to sit and hand things to someone a certain way,” Urrutia says. “Instead of handing someone something with a glove, the actor

Constance Case, A s s o ci a t e Pr o fe s s o r of Costume Design and Te ch n o l o g y

STEP RIGHT UP! Mark your calendar for upcoming Carnival of Ruin events and performances.

MARCH 29 – MARCH 31 John H. Baker Gallery, West Chester University Free reception to reveal the Big Top. Open to the public.

APRIL 22 Malena’s Vintage Boutique In honor of Earth Day, the costumes of Carnival of Ruin will take over the windows at Malena’s.

MAY 23

might hand that item over without a glove while making a subtle twist in their body movement. In that way, you’re always referencing a historical base, but integrating contemporary context.” Students aren’t just on stage. Designed by an art student, the Carnival of Ruin logo showcases the sustainability theme. At first glance, the red and white Big Top capped off with a flying pennant seems like a fairly typical depiction of a carnival tent, but on closer inspection, the red poles that form the tent are actually plastic straws, and the pennant is a plastic bag. Sustainability is about more than just taking care of the physical aspects of the projects; it’s taking care of the people, too. “We paid the student to make the logo,” says Urrutia. “From the beginning, we wanted to set the standard that everyone is compensated for their work.”

THE VENUES Every carnival needs a Big Top. For this carnival, that Big Top is, of course, made entirely of trash. Carnival of Ruin’s tent is constructed of red and white panels made of crocheted plastic bags. Eco Plastic Products, a company in Wilmington, Delaware, that turns plastic jugs and bags into durable, composite benches, is using their process to create beams to support the tent panels. Old kitty litter buckets will hold it all down. Martin Dallago, production manager in the Department of Theatre and Dance, is in charge of making the vision of the Big Top a reality. “I liked the challenge of it,” he explains. “I’m used to using normal materials, so the engineering of this project is fascinating.” The unique requirements of working with recycled materials have

The Academic Quad, West Chester University The Carnival of Ruin will debut as part of WCU’s Summer Classics series. Open to the public.

MAY 30, 2020 East Goshen Township Park Gather by the Big Top at East Goshen Township Park at 1pm for the full carnival experience. Following the performance, audience members will have the chance to meet the actors and see their costumes up close. Free tickets are available on a firstcome, first-serve basis starting on March 1 at eastgoshenrec. com.

STAY UP TO DATE Website: Instagram: @carnivalofruin Facebook: Carnival of Ruin (@ CarnivalOfRuin)





inspired his work elsewhere. “I’m trying to incorporate more into the work I do here,” he says. “Theatre is incredibly wasteful. The ability to reuse things is exciting.”

a vest made o u t o f c an t a b s an d d i s ca rded fabri c

The carnival includes interactive games for all ages along with photo opportunities with the performers and set pieces. With all of this motion and interactivity, it needs quite a bit of space, and the team wanted to extend the performances beyond just the academic quad on campus. They found the perfect location in East Goshen Township Park on Paoli Pike. Urrutia is an East Goshen resident, and thought the park, with its expansive space and parking, would be ideal. Jason Lang, Director of Parks and Recreation for East Goshen Township, couldn’t agree more. “We are a gold-level sustainable community,” he says. “When Maria pitched this idea to me, she had me at ‘hello.’” Although the park can hold up to 5,000 people, the performance will be limited to an audience of 300 to 400, due to the movement from location to location. Dancers from WCU and local high school students will be on hand to help shepherd audience members from scene to scene. The project has been embraced by myriad community partners. Eco Plastic Products is loaning the park a few of their signature benches crafted from recycled plastic milk jugs. Malena’s Vintage Boutique on Gay Street will display Carnival of Ruin costumes in the store windows to celebrate Earth Day in April. The individuals who have donated recyclables for the project are too numerous to mention. “It’s amazing how quickly you accrue 100 plastic bags,” says Case, who estimates that more than 2,500 bags went into just the top of the white part of the Big Top. As the performance dates loom closer, the race to finalize costumes and props is heating up. Case occasionally thinks about what it must look like when she is scavenging for needed materials. “I’m constantly at Giant, digging through the plastic bag bins. I’m sure people wonder about the pink-haired woman with glasses rooting through the recycling bin.” Just yesterday, she sent out yet another message looking for donations of used red plastic tablecloths for the Big Top.

THE FUTURE So what happens to Carnival of Ruin— and its artifacts—when it’s over? “We get asked that a lot, actually,” says Case. “We imagine it not living just in this area,” offers Urrutia. “We’ve already had conversations in Miami. And I’ve been talking with the dance association convention in Canada about bringing it there.” Studlien-Webb adds, “And, we’re using materials that were going to the landfill anyway.” Small changes are the lifeblood of reducing our collective impact, emphasizes Case. “You do what you can, when you can. You’re not going to be ostracized if you show up at the performance with a plastic water bottle—sometimes that happens. But little choices, whenever you can make them, add up. You can unsubscribe from physical mailing lists to cut down on paper waste. You can choose toilet paper that doesn’t come wrapped in plastic.” James Saracina, who plays both Charlie Bags and the Knife Thrower characters, agrees. “Charlie is a good personification

of how the world is acting right now,” he reflects. “With everything that’s happening in the world, here is a social issue we can do something about. You don’t have to petition anyone—you can just act on it to make a small change.” In the midst of an uncertain future—for the characters, for the environment, and for us all, really—Carnival of Ruin offers a way forward, as expressed in the Artist Statement found on the website: “Come one come all to the Carnival of Ruin where trash is visible and yet invisible. Where characters come to life before you from the remains of our discarded items and transform how we see everyday trash. Where you will want to join us and say: Yes to life Yes to refuse and reuse Yes to a new future for all living creatures Yes, yes, yes We, as artists, believe in making art that empowers community action toward a better future. We choose to generate this energy by nurturing social courage through creativity.”





Making a Difference Each month the Rotary Club of West Chester contributes a column that explores the organizations and initiatives that are making a difference around the world and right here in our community.

On September 26, 1991 a joint resolution was introduced in Congress to designate chili as the official food of the United States,” claiming that “chili is an indigenous American cuisine that was created, refined, and approaches perfection only in the United States.” Indeed, chili is a food with styles as diverse as America and a history just as colorful. Settlers stewed together cheap scraps of meat with spices and peppers on the trail. In Texas, chili was considered a prison food: tough cuts of meat were boiled until rendered edible and mixed with whatever other ingredients were available. Inmates rated jails by the quality of their chili. During the Great Depression, chili joints sprang up all over the nation, providing a quick, cheap meal to the masses. It has been said that chili saved more people from starvation than the Red Cross. Texas Red Chili consists of beef, tomatoes, peppers and spices. Adding beans in Texas is considered on par with breaking a commandment. To the north in Oklahoma, the rules are relaxed a little, as beans are certainly allowed and even encouraged in local recipes. It is fitting that the Windy City has a great chili culture. However, residents insist on spelling their dish as chilli, with an extra “L” in honor of the state of Illinois. New Mexicans eschew the tomato in favor of the green chili in their pork-based recipes. Cincinnati Five Way Chili is ladled over a mound of spaghetti, topped with chopped onions, red kidney beans and heaps of shredded cheese. So, what is the perfect chili? Here in West Chester we have been trying to answer that question for 18 years. On the second Sunday of every October, our borough becomes the epicenter of the chili universe when the Rotary Club of West Chester takes over the town and holds the annual West Chester Chili Cook-Off. Dozens of teams vie for the distinction of making the “best darn chili” in Chester County. Competition is fierce; the chilis are distinct among the four divisions, and 2019 was no exception. In the business division, there was no argument this year as to whether beans belong in America’s favorite dish as the award went to Fred Beans Ford and their Powerstroke Chili. Perennial favorites Hammacher and Schlemmer took the hometown cook division. Offered by staff chili chefs decked out in full traditional German garb, their Landfill Chili was a huge hit. We usually don’t recommend eating chili and running, but this year they went hand-in-hand as the Wednesday Knight’s Running Club took the top spot in the nonprofit division. Of course, West Chester is a restaurant town, so bragging rights are critical. For the second year in a row, Saloon 151 won the restaurant division, edging out former champion Barnaby’s for the top spot. Their chili was so good that they completed the sweep by also winning the coveted People’s Choice Award. The real winners are the 16 nonprofits in Chester County that were awarded grants by the Rotary Club. You see, all proceeds from the cook-off go back to supporting our community, making this a truly great event. –



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If you can spot the five differences in this photo of a modern art gallery, email your answers to, and you’ve got a chance to win a Barnaby’s gift certificate. Congrats to our February winner, Lenny Rogers



March Playlist DJ Romeo curates a list of the tracks you’ll be singing all month The following is a list of songs that will take over the radio stations in the next few months. You’ll soon know them by heart and play them ‘til they’re tired. But, good news: you can download them first and look like the cool musical genius to all of your friends. | @DJRomeo24

The Weeknd - “After Hours” Justin Bieber ft. Post Malone & Clever - “Forever” Khalid x Disclosure - “Know Your Worth” Tame Impala - “Breathe Deeper” The Pussycat Dolls - “React” Lauv - “Modern Loneliness” Madison Beer - “Good In Goodbye” Sam Smith - “To Die For” Billie Eilish - “No Time To Die” AJR - “Bang!” 5 Seconds of Summer - “No Shame” Taylor Swift - “The Man” Chelsea Cutler - “Sad Tonight” Meghan Trainor ft. Nicki Minaj - “Nice To Meet You” Ali Gatie - “What If I Told You That I Love You” Iann dior - “Good Day” Anne-Marie - “Birthday” Alec Benjamin - “Oh My God” Lil Mosey - “Blueberry Faygo” Lizzo - “Cuz I love You” Cookiee Kawaii - “Vibe” contradash - “blocked” Robin Schulz ft. Alida - “In Your Eyes” Topic ft. A7S - “Breaking Me” Kesha - “Tonight” MARINA - “About Love” Surfaces - “Sunday Best” New Hope Club ft. R3HAB - “Let Me Down Slow” Justin Bieber ft. Kehlani - “Get Me” Tom Grennan - “This is the Place” Camila Cabello - “First Man” Kim Petras - “Reminds Me” Meek Mill ft. Justin Timberlake - “Believe” Sean Paul ft. Tove Lo - “Calling On Me”



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