Midtown Manuscript Chapter I: “How to Succeed in Business by Really Trying”
They say the more you put into something, the more you’ll get out of it. I like to believe that is true. I have had the distinct pleasure and honor of covering just about all of the 42 Millworks artists with the remaining few on the horizon for the new year.
To be successful in anything, one needs to put in the work with a major investment of time. When art buyers come to make a purchase, they are parting with a portion of money that will enrich their lives by its beauty, inspiration and connection to their spirit. By all indications, the more time artists spend in their studios talking and romancing the art, the greater the opportunity of making a sale.
There is a group of dedicated studio dwellers who habitually haunt their studios with such regularity that one can almost set their clock by them. This blog features a random group of five that maximize the opportunities that Millworks provides for public time with clients. Two Midtown art galleries are highlighted, as well, that are open year-round and are truly looking forward to the holiday shopping season’s final three weeks.
Amie Bantz of Studio 322 is very busy, from her art day job for the Pennsylvania Council of the Arts to art events for the Millworks. But she still finds time to create amazing work, which includes prints, graphic designs and paintings. Amie tries to spend as close to 20 hours a week in her studio. Highly visible during 3rd in the Burg events, she correlates being present to selling her range of art and getting commissioned orders for the future. Her yardstick for success is measured “by the conversations and connections with consumers coming in to see me at the studio.”
Tina Berrier in Studio 319 was an early adaptor of the Millworks art haven, joining before they even opened their doors. She makes it a rule to be in her studio every Saturday and Sunday, meeting visitors, customers and patrons of the restaurant. Tina realizes the importance of face time translating to transactions made and embraces 3rd in the Burg events, whether teaching classes or residing in her studio.
Most “First Saturdays” and the Odd Ones semi-annual “bizarres” are regularly circled on her calendar. Berrier often cross-references cultures past and present, unifying them to pitch-perfect in her paintings. She dramatizes worlds real and imagined to include animals possessing human qualities in otherworldly renderings. Tina states that, “The Millworks artists provide added value to its operation.”
The Huckle Buckle Boys, Zack Rudy and Garrick Dorsett, have now been in Studio 318 since July and recently revamped the studio layout to highlight their wide range of mono-prints and one-of-a-kind, wall-sized “niche” artwork. Having known each other since the age of 15, the “boys” push the envelope of art to its tipping point, encouraging the imagination to run wild. They also echo the need to be present to educate new initiates into their world and to greet old friends and customers. 3rd in the Burg nights provide the opportunity for them to be themselves, collaborating in a partnership that has aged well with time. For Huckle Buckle, it is “about the experience of creating than any award financially or symbolically. It is in discovering the next big thing to create.”
P.D. Murray is a true Renaissance man, holding court in Studio 323. Paul is erudite and enlightened, which is a potent combination in any field, but in the art world, it proves to be kinetic. Creating characters completely his own and paying homage to elements of past lives, PD enters his own realm. He develops vignettes of art narratively nuanced and visually astounding, leaving the viewer in awe. Paul spends almost 30 hours weekly at his Millworks loft studio. His philosophy shares that, “Patrons aren’t buying just art but the artist. One cannot separate the work from its creator.” He has created limited edition holiday ornaments for the Millworks tree for sale, as well as a limited edition holiday prints. Paul relates, “I want my legacy to be the quantity of works living in people’s homes. Works they have made an emotional connection with, including humor. I’ve never let popularity influence what I do.”
Some people possess a larger than life personality, and one can’t help but be bowled over in their presence. It is part of their DNA, and to be any other way would be denying their true identity. Reina “R76” Wooden has one of those outsized personas. Her art reflects the same ethos—bold, bombastic and beyond categorization. The mediums employed in her creations are an extension of her artistic soul—point and counterpoint. From paintings of crowns and kings insignia to faces without eyes and canvases made from recycled vintage garments, Reina lays claim to the universe as her mood board. Reina maxes out her hours in Studio 318, clocking in at 30 hours a week Wednesday through Sunday, whenever the restaurant is open. It allows her to make personal connections to patrons of the business and to explain her creative process to first-time visitors. In addition to her regular schedule, she is promoting Sunday brunch hours for the holiday season. For Reina success is measured, “by returning customers bringing new friends and families to view my art.” And on a global scale, her passion for art helps to inspire the next generation of artists.
Chapter II: Beyond Millworks
At the intersection of N. 3rd and Verbeke streets, bordering the Broad Street Market, two art galleries are primed for the holiday shopping season. The newest can be found at 1224 N. 3rd St. with a storefront that looks like Fifth Avenue in New York City. The glamorous gateway leads inside to the Nyeusi Gallery, which opened in July. Already, in its first five months, Michelle Green, curator, is enthusiastic about the response to the city’s first fully dedicated gallery to African and African American art. The presentation is visually arresting, with an entire wall devoted to paintings, sculptures, artifacts and more. A legion of local artists includes others from major cities throughout the United States. The art is representative of a world stage often found by owner Dr. Dale Dangleben from his travels around the globe. One side of the space is solely devoted to art, while the other half is home to the communications component that Michelle employs as part of her creative consulting business. She dedicates over 40 hours per week to the gallery’s business, podcasts and in-store events that include painting parties. Michelle even teaches chess to those eager to learn the intricacies of the game.
A long-standing destination for pottery, photography and gifts galore can be found at 258 Verbeke St., the home of Vivi on Verbeke. 3rd in the Burg holds special meaning to the owners as they keep night-owl hours, open to 11 p.m. They also participate in special events, like September’s “Jazz Walk,” with great enthusiasm. The gallery is bursting with handcrafted bowls, mugs, vases and wall art. Vivi can be found at the wheel throwing and hand-building clay into enchanted vessels. Partner Jackson Boyd shoots panoramic photos of the Susquehanna and its boundless bridges. Vivi has dedicated an entire collection to her “River Series” ceramics, and both look forward to finding shoppers the perfect piece for those impossible to buy for and those who know just what they want. Word has it that the North Pole has moved to N. 3rd and Verbeke.
This season, more than ever, support artists locally at all art spaces. “Success” is a state of mind, but it is always important to be able to see the value of creativity in dollars and sense. Shop at a place surrounded with goodwill by those who embrace making people happy with their special selections, and you will help to spread the spirit of the season. Happy holidays to one and all!
Chapter III: Behind the Scene at SAM with Phillip Earenfight of the Trout Gallery
Phillip Earenfight, the director of the Trout Gallery, the art museum at Dickinson College, will speak about the current exhibit at the Susquehanna Art Museum in the Beverlee and Bill Lehr Gallery on Sunday, Dec.12, from 2 to 3 p.m. Mr. Earenfight will lead a behind-the-scenes tour of the exhibit, “Four Seasons and Seven Vices: Old Master Prints in Series,” which is on loan courtesy of Dickinson College. The tour is free with standard admission to the museum.
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