Surprises are few and far between when you have lived in the same place for your entire life; especially when it comes to aspects of culture you love like food, wine, and entertainment, but recently I was pleasantly surprised. The revelation: a trip to a local event rental and art gallery space called Reading Art Works (RAW).
Located just outside of the historical section of Reading, PA, RAW impresses from the second you walk through the door. Owners Janice and David Telstar are celebrating RAW’s 8th year in business in the old Pattern Works building, originally known for producing railroad engine parts. When they bought the building it suffered from typical abandonment issues: stained floors, broken windows, leaking roofs, and an overall state of decay. What they have done with the place is astonishing. David combined his love for refurbishing old items and carpentry with Janice’s 30+ years of event planning knowledge to create a space that screams “industrial chic.” Beautifully restored sliding garage doors separate the available studio spaces (available for rent starting at $350) while David’s furniture creations, ranging from birdhouses to high top tables made from old shutters, leave no doubt in any potential renter’s mind of the infinite possibilities available at RAW.
Simply put, this space is gorgeous. With its two levels, RAW can hold events for up to 800 people including holiday parties, weddings, photography shoots, and more. The space lends itself to the imagination, and with the help of the on-site interior designer, Karen Weinberger, any event can be transformed into your wildest dreams. Karen is a talented self-taught artist, and RAW is home to her event décor business, British Brat @ Studio #5. She offers Decor Rental and Design Services to assist RAW customers in fulfilling their vision of a picture perfect day, all while keeping your budget intact. Decor Rental items include lounge areas, chalk boards, old windows, new crystal chandeliers and much more. In addition Karen can design and customize ceremony backdrops, create ceiling decor, photo backdrops, etc. You can see some her work on RAW’s facebook page.
The studio spaces on the first floor are spacious with radiant light shining through the building’s restored windows. The art gallery featured on the first floor is breathtaking on its own. Presently adorned with pieces by a local Philadelphia artist, Kathleen Shaver, the space is clean, modern, and leaves you with a sense of sophistication and creativity. If the first floor left me breathless, entering the loft sent me to heaven. The short staircase to the second floor leads into an open room with hardwood floors, industrial beams, and gorgeous light through the floor-to-ceiling windows. Walking around this loft, even devoid of event decorations, would give any past, present, or future bride chills. I could not stop thinking about the possibilities for such a space and neither can David. We spent an hour talking about his ideas for expansion, some including the addition of gardens and decks; let me tell you, these ideas will only amplify the success of this business.
With its unique location, interior aesthetic, and personable staff, I highly recommend Reading Art Works to anyone looking for gallery space, event space, or even a wedding location. You would be crazy not to take advantage of the natural sunlight, the exceptional artwork, and the simple industrial beauty that RAW has to offer. I can only thank David and Janice enough for enlightening me to such a wonderful surprise so close to home! Visit RAW’s website at http://readingartworks.com.