something new: gallery 222 in malvern

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Today I had a meeting with someone at The Buttery in Malvern (one of my favorite places).  On my way out of the door, I realized I had not been able to make the opening over the weekend of the brand spanking new gallery that opened on King in Malvern.

And there it was, across the street.

So I crossed King (carefully, today pedestrians in the crosswalks were largely invisible and ignored by drivers – Malvern PD can you do some enforcement?) and cheated on my Malvern favorite, JAM Gallery.

29988643225_f8072635e2_oIn my own defense, I love local art and I love welcoming galleries even more. And Gallery 222 just beckoned me like an old friend.

I did a Facebook live video that is loaded on this blog’s Facebook page but the audio today on every Facebook live thing I tried was messed up, but it is a very nice virtual tool.

The owner, Andrea, is a friend of a friend.  And much like walking into JAM which is across the street and down a piece, it’s a comfortable feeling when you enter. And the art is lovely.   I saw several pieces that also like at JAM, are reasonably priced.

Andrea said to me that this is her dream to have a gallery. I totally get that, and her dream is ever so lovely. She will also have artist space above the gallery floor, which to me is so cool. She is creating an artists’ colony right in her building!

29988643315_4c99f49927_oMalvern having a presence in the local art scene with galleries and artists in residence is a great idea, and so positive for a small town.

Ironically, I have a friend who shares this vision.  My friend Sherry Tillman who owns Past*Present*Future in Ardmore, PA and who is an artist  in her own right. She had the vision to create First Friday Main Line to put art in unexpected places. For several years before I moved to Chester County, I did the event PR and photography for First Friday Main Line and loved every minute.

222-2Sherry made me remember why I loved local and regional art.  It wasn’t about the price point or if they were a listed artist, it was about liking what you saw. Did it evoke an emotion? Strike a memory chord? That was the thing: you liked a piece for whatever reason. And when the art is affordable, you can take that piece of happiness home and look at it every day.

Looking at art is a wonderful experience.  And no, you do not have to like all of it.  For example, I might be committing art sacrilege but I do not like Picasso anything.  I never saw the genius.

29694684380_567dcb36bd_oI like landscapes. I love portraits that tell a story. I like my farm animals and my farmhouse scenes.  I also like a lot of the work of my parents’ friends who are (and were) artists.  Joyce De Guatemala, Harry Niblock, Margery Niblock, Noel Miles.

I don’t know the artists of some of the stuff I have picked up over the years. I just bought whatever because I liked it. It made me happy.  I have a  watercolor of three girls and a dog that was an early 20th century equivalent of sofa art.  I found the piece on a trash pile years ago when a developer was getting ready to tear down what was the Clothier House in Haverford on Buck Lane. I saw it and felt bad for a piece of art tossed like a sack of rotting potatoes on the trash pile.  I was walking my dogs when I saw it and walked it across Lancaster Avenue and had it re-framed.  It has no real value but I like it.

Local artists have a way of connecting us to where we live in very special ways, so I am happy Malvern is becoming a gallery town at one end. I told Andrea today that 222 and JAM should do a Gallery Night – maybe quarterly as the seasons change.  I learned from First Friday Main Line that bringing art to the community is so positive, so why not spread the love further in Malvern?

I wish Gallery 222 in Malvern a long and happy existence! I look forward to their next show and JAM Gallery’s as well. I like the idea of Malvern being an art destination.

Gallery 222. 222 East King Street Malvern Pennsylvania 19355
610.608.6636 | andreastrang@gallery222malvern.com

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haunted house of francis avenue in berwyn?

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Driving around with my friend Catherine today doing the super amazing Tredyffrin Historic Preservation Trust house tour, we stumbled upon this crazy desolate looking house in Easttown Township.  It looks like it sits on a couple of acres and I think the address is 218 Francis Avenue, Berwyn.

It could be empty or someone could be living there.  It looks like a haunted house.  There is a chain across the driveway with a bunch of old trash cans and a sign that says “Beware of the Dog” only there are no signs of life.  To the right of the house is some sort of boarded up stable or garage – hard to tell from the street.

It sparks the imagination and would be perfect for an M. Night Shyamalan movie.

If anyone has infomation about this house which seems like it was built in early 1900s, please post.  It was probably a beautiful house in it’s day.

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old friends

29732668866_c470dbcae2_oLife is sometimes this windy path that takes you away from people, and then leads you back to them.

From the time we are little children, people are in and out of our lives for any multitude of reasons. Life takes us in different directions, quite literally.  People move, start families in other places, and get busy with the every day of their lives.

All of a sudden, years have past, and you still think of those people, but then you are busy too, so you don’t reconnect even if you think of these people.

And then, just like that, something happens, and you are back in each other’s lives and that is such a neat thing when it happens.

It happened to me today.  A four hour conversation with one of my oldest friends from high school.  Yes, those Shipley connections and friends I have written about before. That school gave me a wonderful foundation and the best relationships in my life, truly. This woman and I were thick as proverbial thieves for years, and then life just took us in diffferent directions, on different paths.

I will tell you how it came to be, this phone call today….

Recently the younger brother of a friend died of leukemia.  I have now lost several people I knew, admired, and cared about to virulent forms of leukemia.  This man was the brother of my friend I spoke with today.  He fought this disease so valiantly and was so positive.

He passed away and the first thing I thought of was my friend, one of his siblings.  So I looked up her address and sent her a note. We had not spoken in a few years, but how could I not? She was the one who introduced me to all her siblings, and well I have these memories of her brother as a little kid because of her.  He was this funny, very bright burning ball of energy with a very funny sense of humor.  And a very messy bedroom. Truthfully, all of her siblings were truly nice and interesting, even as kids.

When he got older he went to boarding school and then off to college, so I did not really know him for many years, and was just getting to know him as an adult with his own family when he got sick. In the intervening years, his one sister who was my friend and I grew apart. And it was for no other reason than time and distance.  She was in another state far enough away starting a family that we just lost touch, and became disconnected.

Yesterday in the mail, was a note for me.  Handwriting I had not seen in so many, many years. It was from my friend.  I opened it, read it, and wept, It was so good to hear from her and she is so sad about her brother.

So today she called.  And it was like high school again. It was such a marathon phone call that in the back of my mind I was waiting for one of our parents to pick up another phone in the respective houses and yell at us to get off the phone and do our homework.

Speaking with her, the years melted away like no time had past even if so many years actually had.  But that in and of itself is the value of real friendship – it is O.K. the time has passed, and now it is time to catch up.

This is my friend who introduced me to Chester County more than any other person had when I was a young adult.  She went to West Chester University and for a few years she lived in Malvern Borough too.   So speaking with her today after all this time, made me so happy, because when I moved out here I started to think about her a lot.  Every time I drive by Raintree in Malvern Borough I remember when she and another friend shared a condo there.  Or when I drive way down King until it almost meets Lancaster Ave and remember the places she was a hostess and waitress while in school.

Back in the day we would go to the restaurant festival in West Chester, the “Gobble Off” that used to be at what was the Bar and Restaurant the night before Thanksgiving with other friends, hanging out at WCU’s the Rat before she graduated, hanging out with people at the Marshalton Triathalon, dancing at Lionshare and Main Lion and more.

We were also roommates at the beach in the summer for a while.  We had a lot of fun together.

And then she moved and the years passed and we lived kind of separate lives, connecting here or there with a random phone call or letter.

When you meet people who are so disappointing, you remember the friends like this. I am a fortunate women to have so many of my old friends still in my life.  Thanks to her brothers we are reconnected.  That makes me happy. I wish her one brother was still with us to know, but somehow I  would like to think he does.

Life is short. Don’t waste it.

Thanks for stopping by.

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unexpected memories of childhood past


I saw the notice of a house sale on a Facebook yard sale group page for West Chester. What caught my eye was the print above.

The subject is now a man not far from my age named Mark. They were done by his late father when we were all kids in Society Hill.   It’s a set of four originally, there were three available.

The artist was Harry Niblock. He and his former wife also a tremendous artist, Margery Niblock, were dear friends of my parents and Margery is still a friend of mine. Our whole family has pieces of their art, and a lot of memories attached to the art especially because as a child I remember when a lot of it was actually created which is really cool.

So I went to the sale. What I wasn’t expecting is I would know the person whose house was having a house sale. She wasn’t there, but she was a woman I knew from the time I was a little girl. 

This lady was widowed twice. Her first husband I knew as a little girl and her second husband I also knew for a lot longer, because he had been married to one of my mother’s closest and best  friends and my mother had introduced the lady and this gentleman when they were both widowed. They subsequently married and he died.

So walking around the sale was a little emotionally loaded. I saw items from the households of two different couples, and their years together. I think what really upset me the most was the fact that there were items that belong to the second husband’s army career. Even a baby picture of the son, his namesake.


 Seeing his various stages of career Army uniform is hanging on a rolling rack actually brought tears to my eyes and upset me. This man did some time in Vietnam. A couple of tours my mother said, and she also said she only ever remembers him talking about it twice. Ever. He was a great guy, a true soldier who loved his family too. I have really fond memories of him.


So I bought some things, namely Harry’s prints and one of Margery’s I didn’t have but remembered fondly. The Margery Niblock prints for sale or the series of prints her friends received every year in lieu of a Christmas card for years. I have quite a few framed and hanging on my own walls. I don’t know how valuable they are, but they are extraordinarily sentimental. Margery taught me as a girl to do linoleum and wood block.

Now I’m sitting in my car before I go home writing this down because it was  almost a surreal experience.  Flashback memories of two different families and my own childhood.
I hope the lady who is moving enjoys her new home. What a morning for memories.

request from radnor: who was candy hill? (her plaque is deteriorating along with everything else at the willows)

14329944_1442553252427898_8869019755046473407_nThe photos were sent to me with the following message:

Radnor Twp has let The Willows Assets deteriorate to a point of no return.
Anyone know what the plaque represents below?

Who was Candy Hill?

The Willows was a mighty fine property. A house, never a mansion.  The architect was my dear friend Sara’s grandfather Charles Barton Keen (Keen is being discussed this month during a couple of Chester County Historical Society Events as a matter of fact.)

The Willows started out life in 1910 for John Sinnott Jr., the estate was originally called “Rose Garland.”

The Zantzinger family began ownership in the 1930s, and renamed the estate “Maral Brook.”   Alfred Zantzinger (1907-1972) married Mary Geist in 1937 and what we know as the Willows today became their home. Their son Alfred (“Gei”) was an ethnomusicologist and independent filmmaker who lived in Devault and is still remembered on the Charlestown Township website to this day.  One of Alfred the younger’s sons is a high school friend of one of my closest friends – at one time he had lent me marvelous old family photos of the Willows, but I lost them on an old computer unfortunately.

14368887_1442553162427907_7053680060494812420_nRadnor Township purchased the property ca. 1972-73, and it has been a public park and event space ever since. Now truthfully The Willows was acquired via eminent domain (See “Willows Ordinance“.)

But I digress.

No one can get their act together about the Willows in a way that makes sense.  Apparently it will be discussed at some point this fall again in Radnor, but in the meantime who is this lady the plaque was dedicated to?

Seems so sad.

Thanks to my friend Tim for the use of his photos.

Shame on you Radnor for not taking better care of a property you are stewards of. And if in the end the house that is not a mansion is demolished, care MUST be taken with this plaque that it is not lost forever.  Whomever she was she meant something to people.

Remember the state of things like this in Radnor when you go to the polls in November since one of their commissioners is under the delusion she can be an effective state representative in PA 165 – Elaine Paul Schaefer – affectionately know as Elaine Paul Sing Song Voice to some. She loves the cows at Ardrossan, but has been ineffective problem solving across the road at the Willows.  Ask her and the other present and former Radnor Conservancy members about the state of the Willows Cottage, ok?  I hear it can be summed up with one word: mold and is that true? And if so why? They got gobs of money a few short years ago to put that cottage right, correct?

Thanks for stopping by.

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truth will out? a curious case of sunshine continues to brew and other tales

tape-face-west-goshenWhen I wrote about West Goshen last week, I did not realize I had ignited some sort of political powder keg and why is that is local governments are supposed to be so open and find it impossible? These people are elected to represent all residents equally, correct?

Anyway, apparently there was a rather heated West Goshen Board of Supervisors meeting last night?  I hear among other things, the recording of meetings was discussed? So as of now West Goshen records/films zero meetings and their website catalog of meeting minutes and agendas are somewhat, shall we say, deplorable? So I do not know the actual agenda. But, apparently the supervisors, or maybe it was solicitor or maybe both had their knickers in a twist about this topic and so did certain residents that in other townships are often referred to somewhat indelicately, albeit accurately, as cheerleaders?

The whole thing of recording meetings by the public has always been a hot button topic, not just in West Goshen but all over.  The reason a lot of residents will choose to record meetings often has to do with the basic fact that not all municipalities record or film (videotape) meetings, and many are not exactly current  on posting meeting minutes or even agendas. And some townships the meeting minutes are shall we say, sanitized?  So people record them. (and for the record, I have tried to pull up agendas for the West Goshen Supervisors for both August and September of this year, and I got Planning Commission Agendas, which is incorrect as per their posted meeting date.)

Municipalities will say to the public they are worried about privacy in the recording of public meetings held in public spaces.  We’re not talking about Executive Sessions to which the public is not included, we are talking about regular meetings. What is that whole no expectation to privacy in a public space?  And not a public bathroom where there IS an expectation of privacy, but a public board room, where there is NOT, correct?

Ok so yes municipalities will play Captains of Semantics to split hairs in their favor. (Not a dig, human nature, totally understandable.)

So in July I found courtesy of a Google cache that West Goshen was contemplating adopting an ordinance similar to East Goshen’s having to do with members of the public recording of meetings.  The ALSO discussed the possibility of RECORDING meetings so the public could see them in their entirety later, and I would assume that also means they are possibly speaking with Comcast and Verizon regarding a municipal channel that every municipality is entitled to if they so choose?

See here:

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Ok so got that?  They are discussing their OWN recording of meetings so how is THAT not an issue? It does not compute. Anyway, her is hoping they join modern times because the more open a local government is, the happier the residents and taxpayers, right? And nothing makes residents happier then to NOT HAVE TO go to a meeting to find out what is going on where they live and pay taxes, right? Isn’t it nice to be able to sit in the comfort of your own home and watch a meeting and only have to attend a meeting if you wish to speak at public privilege/public participation?

West Goshen is beginning to sound like Haveford Township in the bad old days  (or West Vincent before last election) and I hope for the residents’ sake that isn’t the case, don’t you?  I don’t really know.  What piqued my curiosity was the case just filed by the resident Tom Casey against the township.  It is about open records, or “sunshine”.

Yikes.

Here is all I can get right now.  These are all filed with the court, and to the best of my knowledge are OPEN and not sealed, unless someone has other pertinent information?  In an effort to be a good citizen, I redacted e-mail addresses and whatnot to the best of my ability with the exception of the West Goshen township e-mail addresses because those are already public.

I am a big believer in sunshine and open meetings and freedom of information where local governments are concerned. I participated in a Sunshine protest in Lower Merion Township in 2010 and photographed it.  I have friends who have taken such things to court in Radnor Township over Right to Know Requests not being honored by school district and won. The Radnor case of a lack of sunshine was a very big deal. As well it should have been.

The situation in West Goshen is also a smelly one and has to do with the sewer plant.  I don’t know all the players or the politics, but I do know quite well the politics of being miserable to residents and even non-residents for discussing topics that local municipalities and school districts/school boards do not want out in the open. Everyone always says when things happen they are “coincidences” but are they really?

I am a big believer in our inalienable rights.  Ultimately the Chester County Court system will decide, and I hope this resident gets a fair hearing in front of the Judge hearing the case. I hope West Goshen lets the resident have their day in court FAIRLY without any outside shenanigans, don’t you?

Here is what I have dug up:

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I am guessing unless the court posts otherwise that this will get a hearing date in the near future, right? A public hearing that media and the public can attend? Anyway, West Goshen is uncharted waters.  Who knows what will happen? I will hope for the best that they do the right thing and get over medieval style politics, right? After all, they owe their residents (ALL of their residents) to be the best, right?

home of the sparrow event at life’s patina

 A few years ago I was the lucky one who got to photograph the property Life’s Patina is on in Malvern.  I photographed the property when it was on the house tour for Tredyffrin Historic Preservation Trust. 

Tonight I got to see the barn renovation totally completed! So awesome!

I am here right now for the special event benefitting Home of the Sparrow! There is a special sale all weekend, check it out!

You can find the information on Life’s Patina or Home of the Sparrow Facebook pages.