Author Archives: Nick Mohler

Nick Mohler

About Nick Mohler

Nick is the Director of Continuing Education at Pennsylvania College of Art & Design and was the formerly the Program Director of the Pennsylvania Guild of Craftsmen. A graduate of Frostburg State University in printmaking, he works and lives in Lancaster with his wife, two sons and frisky dingo.

Don’t be Dutch, be Authentic

G. Robert Wagner is a part of the fabric that makes Lancaster County authentic and unique. Born and raised in Lancaster City, he is the descendant of Pennsylvania “Dutch” or German ancestors that settled this location.

Wagner had just graduated from college when he was assigned to illustrate the official Lancaster County Seal in 1976 for the Bicentennial. What a start to a successful career in design!

After years in the design business, Wagner decided he wanted to put his efforts into expressing what he loves and what makes his heart sing: the charm of Lancaster County.

It started with a simple idea: When you shop in Lancaster county, wouldn’t it be nice to take home something created by a local artist?

All designs are inspired by local or traditional artwork such as patterns on an Amish quilt. All shirts are designed and printed locally by G. Robert Wagner.

There are many places to find shirts and posters by Authentic Lancaster including:

1. Plain & Fancy Farm Restaurant & Gift Shop, 3121 Old Philadelphia Pike, Intercourse, PA 717-768-4400
2. Shady Maple Smorgasbord & Gift Shop, 1324 Main Street, East Earl, 717-354-4981
3. Bird-In-Hand Bake Shop, 542 Gibbons Road, Bird-In-Hand, 717-656-7947
4. Lancaster Central Market, Old Lancaster Square, Lancaster, 717-285-4795
5. Amish Farm & House, 2395 Lincoln Highway East, Lancaster, 717-394-6185
6. The Amish Village, Route 896, Strasburg, 717-687-8511

Look for the Lancaster Authentic label and take home a part of the heritage from Lancaster County, Pennsylvania.

Live Theatre and Family Fun

In the spirit of the Holidays, my wife and I took my six-year-old to see the Nutcracker at the Fulton Theatre, and we were blown away with the creativity. The Fulton does an amazing job selecting and producing their Family Theatre Series shows. Click here to see what’s currently on stage.

The dance numbers, slapstick comedy, and riveting action kept my son on the edge of his seat throughout the entire performance, and there was plenty of pop-culture references and subtle jokes for the adults in the crowd. The show moved at the perfect pace and held everyone’s attention the entire time.

The Fulton Theatre has shows for all ages and interests. If you want a night out without the kiddos, check out their Mainstage Series.

Annual Fall ArtWalk in Downtown Lancaster

Art Walks have a long history in the City of Lancaster. Back in 1965, the first art walk was organized by the Community Gallery, now the Lancaster Museum of Art. The event was called Art Sunday and occurred on the first Sunday in October. It was a special day for promoting local artists and galleries, and included both city and county venues. Arts venues were fewer and farther between at that time. Downtown was a quieter place and there were no First Fridays. Thanks to the Community Gallery/Lancaster Museum of Art, Art Sunday continued every year and became well-established in the yearly calendar of events. Over time, Art Sunday grew and became more diversified in the types of venues participating.

Leap forward to 2014, and ArtWalk buzzes with energy two times every year. One ArtWalk in the spring, and one in the fall. This year’s Fall ArtWalk features 35 stops within 4 square blocks. You could say Lancaster’s art community is highly concentrated in the center of town.

The best part about ArtWalk is it’s yours to shape as you wish. Some people go for the exhibitions, some go for the activities, and everyone plots their lunch/coffee/ice cream breaks in between.

There are 35 stops, which can feel daunting, but you truly can do all of the stops. But don’t get hung up on the achievement, the day will unfold with unexpected surprises along the way. Linger in the galleries as long as it feels right. ArtWalk is meant to be a contemplative tour. No hurrying necessary.

Seek out the stops that offer a lot of activities such as the Pennsylvania Guild of Craftsmen who on this instance have a blacksmithing demonstration in their back lot on Saturday. Inside they’ll have a group exhibition titled Unmasked, and they’ll also have fraktur, and needle felting demonstrations.

From there you can head to Building Character for more demonstrations in their courtyard, scoot down the Market Street alley to Hidden Treasures to shop an outdoor arts market, and walk across Prince Street to Isadore Gallery to see pottery by Angela Suehr and paintings by Steve Wetzel, one of the highlight exhibitions of the weekend.

Now you’re on Gallery Row, so continue south on Prince Street to see the Gallery at PA College of Art & Design, City Folk, Freiman Stoltzfus Gallery, Liz Hess, Red Raven Art Company, and Christiane David Gallery. You get the idea. This town is a buzz with things to do during ArtWalk.

For a full listing of activities, events, and exhibitions, visit LancasterArtWalk.org or follow the hashtags #lancartwalk and #lancphotowalk on Twitter and Instagram.

Made by hand (and passion)

Eldreth Pottery was started over 30 years ago in a dank cellar by Dave Eldreth, who at the time, was a full-time teacher trying to supplement income to support newly born twin daughters.

Without much money, he was motivated to make things work. His first potter’s wheel was an improvised conversion of a washing machine. His first pottery kiln was borrowed. He dug his own clay from a local Southern Lancaster County quarry. With many years and many fortunate twists along the way, Eldreth’s determination, ambition, and creativity drove his company’s growth.

When it was time to expand into a larger space, he went to see the local banker, who as luck would have it, just started collecting Eldreth’s pottery. The banker believed in the vision, and put money behind the ideas.

Eldreth recounted a few other serendipitous stories including the time he hired a mason to build a salt-kiln. The mason abruptly quit because he didn’t want to do that kind of work. Devastated, Eldreth thought his plans to set up a pottery factory were doomed from the start. Fortunately, his neighbor turned out to be a distinguished engineer who built the kiln, and then wouldn’t accept payment for his work other than “the first four pots that come out of the kiln.”

Now with about 35 talented artists and three locations, Eldreth Pottery is a renowned name in the pottery business showcasing creativity in salt glaze, redware, and stoneware. They’re known for many different items and varying styles sure to fit everybody’s tastes. Their most popular pottery are painted birdhouses, and their annual limited edition carved Santas.

Every piece is made by hand in Lancaster County. All of the pottery is one-of-a-kind as every single item gets hand-painted.

The showroom and factory in Oxford at 902 Hart Road is stocked to the brims with high quality ceramics. You can also get a tour of that factory generally anytime between 10:00-3:00 PM from Monday to Friday. Watch the pots being made or glazed by the studio artists. Explore the studio space, which includes old clay molds, kiln room, potter’s wheels, etc.

If you’re visiting the Oxford location in early May, don’t miss their annual Open House, which includes demonstrations, kids’ pottery wheel activities, pig roast, and more.

Eldreth Pottery also has a showroom in Strasburg at 246 N Decatur Street. If you’re looking for a good time of year to visit there, go on the second weekend of November to catch their annual Holiday Open House to see all of the new limited edition Santa creations.

Either way, seek them out. Reconnect with craft that’s locally made by hand. Eldreth’s passion is contagious, and I think you’ll find his pots as inspiring as his story.

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Getting “the perfect shot”

Nearly every great, small business has extraordinary people behind it. Tashina Roberson and her business partner, Brian Donnelly, are those extraordinary people behind Studio 841, a photography studio located in Downtown Lancaster, that specializes in food, portrait, and wedding photography.

Tashina and associate photographer, Whitney Huff, have a knack for capturing candid moments – those human moments like laughter, warm embraces, and silliness that sometimes escape the camera in the rush to capture a posed, smiling face. They go to great lengths to get the perfect shot in the studio, in the city, on location, or in one of the great parks in the area.

I experienced Tashina’s passion for getting the perfect shot first hand as she took my two sons, wife, and I out to Rockford Plantation, a bucolic, historic Revolutionary-era 18th century home in the Lancaster County Central Park. With two young children (ages 5 and 1), we were just hoping to get them looking in the right direction and smiling at the same time. We got so much more.

Tashina was exceptionally patient through the entire session, mixing poses with moments for candid interactions. We posed as a family at some choice spots around the grounds. Then we just had fun, trying to get each other to smile, setting the boys free to play, and collapsing in laughter. I knew Tashina was capturing every special moment as she laid flat in the tall grass to get a photo of our boys rolling around. The entire time she remained composed and in control.

It’s clear to me that Studio 841 can meet anyone’s wishes for their photo session whether it’s a 30-minute portrait shoot, an all-day wedding, corporate head shots, or your wildest dream.

Next time you’re considering a photographer for an event or portraits, you’ll know one that will meet your dreams with a passion.

Below are photos by Tashina and her team. To learn more about Studio 841 and to see more of their work, visit them at www.eightfourone.com.

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A village of shops and surprises

This day trip was an extraordinary surprise. It was so much more than I expected.

My five-year-old son and I visited Kitchen Kettle Village in Intercourse for the first time, and found a lively village of shops mainly showcasing hand-crafted creations, both culinary and handcrafts. There are shops that had leather goods, pottery, tinware, jewelry, quilts, and more. A highlight for me as a craft-lover was the Lancaster Yarn Shop. It was bright, friendly and welcoming, and stuffed full of hand-picked yarns, choice tools, and books. I will definitely need to go back and linger a little longer next time.

Outside the back entrance of the yarn shop was a singer-songwriter playing an acoustic guitar as part of the annual Music for Everyone Festival. On the main stage in the center of the Village were The Roof Rockers who lived up to their name. They had people’s attention as they belted out dance music from the 70’s and 80’s.

Also in the center of the Village is The Bake Shop and the Jam & Relish Kitchen, where you can decorate your own cookies and watch the making of jams and jellies. During our visit, they were canning blueberry preserves. Yum – our mouths were watering! While checking out the goodies on the shelves, we learned that you can also order most everything from their online shop. But you have to see this working kitchen for yourself. It is such a wonderfully unique experience.

Next we decided to take the buggy ride through the Lancaster County countryside. There was a 35 minute and a 55 minute ride. We opted for the 35 minute ride given our time constraints.

In the matter of five minutes, we were swept away from the lively, bustling Kitchen Kettle Village to quiet country roads. It’s incredible how dramatic the scenery can change in the matter of a mile. We saw Amish farmers with their mules baling straw, a pair of newly born colts playing in a field, and farm after farm with laundry on the line and children working in the garden with their mothers. It was a bucolic scene. The perfect weather seemed ordered up for the occasion. Our driver pointed out where the power lines stopped since the Amish homesteads don’t use modern electricity. It was educational and scenic – a real joy.

As we returned to Kitchen Kettle Village, we decided to get a quick ice cream snack. We listened to a trio of bluegrass musicians and meandered through the toy store.

Word of advice: You can easily spend a whole day at Kitchen Kettle Village, so plan accordingly!

We definitely plan to go back again. I wonder what they’ll be canning in the Jam & Relish Kitchen next time…

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The city is alive with art and creativity

I love the energy that is in the air right now. The buds on the trees have burst open, and the downtown art gallery scene is staged to burst open too. After one of the hardest winters on record, it’s time to put my feet to the pavement and see what’s new at some of the premier stops in the bustling art scene.

Tucked in the thick of Gallery Row, Freiman Stoltzfus Gallery, one of several individual artist-centered galleries on the block, is one of my personal favorite. Freiman, a native of the Lancaster County’s Amish-Mennonite community, has a great love of travel and has made many trips to Europe. While living in Italy and France, he studied language, music and art. “Music is liquid architecture; Architecture is frozen music.” This quote by Goethe is a guiding principle for his newest collection of paintings, entitled “Lyrical Stones,” which opens on May 2 and continues through June. I’m excited to see this collection firsthand when it opens.

From j.a. sharp, I can walk across the street to Art & Glassworks. It’s one of the best sensory art experiences in the entire city. Glass art in every form and every color from floor to ceiling greets you as you enter Art & Glassworks. They represent over 150 American and International artists including many from the city and county. Whether you’re looking for stained glass, fused glass, blown glass orbs, paperweights, and even modern ceramics, you simply can not go wrong at this stop for either gift buying or splurging on something special for your yourself. I highly recommend a visit to this unique shop.

Take my advice; don’t stop there. There’s so much more art to see in town. Enjoy!

A match made in Heaven

A cafe on the first floor and a working artist’s studio on the second floor. It’s practically a match made in heaven.

When I walk up the steps to Julia Swartz’s gallery and working studio, I welcome the smell of oil paints and fresh flowers. It’s somewhat intoxicating. The color and scale of the canvases – incredible! Julia is a skilled painter so there is a lot of amazing work to see in her gallery. When you go, make sure you have time to soak in each painting. This is not a place to rush.

One of the great annual gems of Lancaster ArtWalk is Julia’s “People’s Painting” event that invites every one of every age and skill level to contribute a few brushstrokes to a collaborative canvas. There’s really no plan ahead of time. Wherever the people take the painting is where it will go. Sometimes it’s weird and sometimes it’s amusing, but it’s always a fun time.

Equally enjoyable is the experience at Prince St. Cafe. The urban design motif is interesting and inviting. Exposed brick, reclaimed barnwoods and metal accents set the mood. But clearly the stars of the show are the drinks – any coffee drink you could wish for and maybe some you never imagined existed. I happen to enjoy their smoothies and chai lattes.

Place your order at the counter, find a seat and they’ll bring it out to you. If you have the time, I recommend getting lunch. The sandwich menu is limited, which means everything on it is good and well-prepared. It’s a space that you should linger in – not only for the ambiance and good libations – but also for the pristine view of the historic Fulton Opera House across the street.

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