Greater Harrisburg's Community Magazine

Bob’s Art Blog: Makers and Shakers of Sustainability

Work by Phillip Wells

A shared appreciation for sustainability connects two unique artists, Phillip Wells and Jennifer Hara, who embrace saving the earth one project at a time.

The “shaker,” Phil Wells of Millworks Studio 213, is like lightning, constantly on the move creating and designing furniture and light fixtures and employing his skills as a carpenter for the preservation firm, Johnson & Griffiths. Certainly one of the most interesting characters walking the streets of Midtown, Phil is truly a modern-day renaissance man. His prowess as a carpenter and lighting specialist is legendary. He appreciates the educational foundation he received from the Memphis School of Design. Memphis as in Milan, Italy, not Tennessee, as one might think.

The brightly colored components found in Phil’s aesthetic sprang up in the 1980s, the brainchild of Ettore Sottsass, who designed postmodern furniture. For Phil, the appeal goes beyond the terrazzo materials and plastic laminate often associated with the abstract decoration. Phil’s inspiration can be childlike, filled with joy and whimsy.

In addition, Phil is a sustainability proponent and certified as a LEED Green associate, which is helpful in his role as a preservationist technician. With over 12 years of hands-on study and experience, Wells brings a wealth of craftsmanship to the table. Focusing on sustainability, Phil shared that he employs non-toxic finishes, natural dyes, beeswax, hand-rubbed oils and local PA materials. He prides himself “in creating household wares that speak to modern sensibilities.” His work can be viewed in homes and businesses throughout the midstate area. His restoration work with Johnson & Griffiths can be seen at the state Capitol and Forum buildings. Look for Phil in his Millworks studio and out and about on the streets of Midtown.

For 25 years, local artist Jennifer Hara has been a “maker” of naturally organic jewelry under the name NomadicInspiration. She is drawn to the lifestyle of a tribe, always on the move. Sustainability is key to the philosophy that nomads embrace in their daily walk as they “use what is around them in nature, sustainably, without producing waste,” Hara said.

“This reflects not only in my use of natural items, bone, shells, feathers, stones, but in repurposing outdated jewelry—breaking it down and using its components in new pieces,” the artist revealed.

Display and jewelry by Jennifer Hara

Her artistic accouterments include earrings, necklaces and suncatchers. The feathers she incorporates in her offerings are all “gifted” and, if a customer wants to commission a special piece, she could incorporate a feather of their own. The exquisite adornments speak for themselves and are created unparalleled, with no two exactly alike.

At the most recent Odd Ones Bizarre, held in the community room at Millworks, Ms. Hara showcased her jewelry on a unique display of connecting tree branches and limbs with moss and lichen. Found hanging from this miniature forest were the earrings, suncatchers and necklaces that sparkled and shined, baubles to catch the eye of passersby. Not one to resist such an artistic atmosphere, I immediately saw “the forest for the trees” as the jewelry emerged, capturing the imagination.

Jennifer, the jeweler/artist and display aficionado all rolled into one, presented a powerful package. The jewelry, as mentioned before, lends itself to the natural surroundings, treasures dangling dramatically, delicately and desirably. Her art speaks to exotic locales as her Etsy shop is aptly titled NomadicInspiration. Her skills as a creative crafter and cobbler of gems for adventurous and free-spirited vagabonds embody the romantic side of life. Her collection captures it all.

Select items can be found at the Healing Spot above the Cornerstone Café in Camp Hill. In addition, Jennifer will be at the “Women of Folk Festival” at Moon Dancer Winery in Wrightsville on Sept. 10. She can also be reached by email at


3rd in the Burg—Birds of a Feather

Sustainability has always been a core component in the art of Harrisburg artist Charlie Feathers. Recycling found objects from discarded wire and tubing, he creates treasures from others’ trash and cast-off items. At least for the summer, Charlie has joined the flock of artists at Harrisburg’s Gallery at 2nd, adding newness to Ted Walke’s nest of nascent nonconformists creating lowbrow, surrealistic art. The art aviary features in-house residents Sean Adomanis, Chad Whitaker, Rance Shepstone, Ashley Russo, Keegan Beinhower and, of course, Ted.

Charlie shared that, for Friday’s 3rd in the Burg, he will be in two places at once, flying from Gallery at 2nd to the Art Association of Harrisburg’s opening night reception for its summer members’ art exhibit from 5 p.m. to 8 p.m. Surprise jurors from the Burg will add an element of mystery to the evening’s events. And the best part…it is free for all.


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