AOTS pARTner Spotlight: Our Interview with Erika Funke of WVIA!!!

Tuesday, July 22, 2014
We got to sit down with Erika Funke of WVIA and she interviewed us on ArtScene. We thought it would be fun to turn the tables and interview the interviewer about her prolific career in radio and the arts.  Erika and the WVIA team have been an invaluable pARTner in spreading the word for Arts on the Square.

Hello Erika!

When you were a college student at University of Chicago, what was your dream for your career?  Would that you be surprised at how it unfolded and where you are today?
The University of Chicago was a hothouse of ideas and, at the time, I was fascinated by the way various art forms can "talk" to each other and tell us something about what it means to be human.  But really, I had no idea how I would spend my working life.  It was Chicago after all, and my friends and I tried to hear as much live music as possible.  And unexpectedly, it was a concert by the Chicago Symphony Orchestra that literally changed my life and gave it a focus, a performance of Beethoven's Symphony No. 7 that took  our collective breath away.  We'd somehow experienced the power of music to move and connect us, bring us exhilaration and true joy.  It was clear that finding a way to bring people together with music would be the next step for me.

Was WVIA your 1st Radio Job?  Did you always want to work in radio?
As it happens, I'd already been doing radio shows all through college, but not with a career in mind.  And actually, you might say that I backed into radio, though my mother had done some radio here in NEPA when I was growing up, and she'd almost gone into radio theater at the network level when she returned to NYC after college.  

(Of course, there's the irony of my name.  "Funk" in German means "spark" or "flame", and it's the root of the word for "radio"--"Rundfunk".  A Swiss doctor reminded me about the early radio operators in his country who used to call each other "Spark" and "Sparky" because of the spark-gap transmitters that were standard.)

One thing led to another, and I was fortunate enough to teach media studies at a branch campus of Goddard College in the Boston area and to have yearlong apprenticeship at WGBH-FM, where I worked on their local version of "All Things Considered".

I came back to NEPA to recover from some surgery and began volunteering at WVIA to keep my hand in radio.  Within a few weeks, the morning classical host resigned to head west, and I had a terrific opportunity to join the staff and realize that dream of bringing music and people together.  

Why is promoting the arts important to you?
As we know, radio is a remarkable medium.  So many people love the way radio engages the human imagination--that we as listeners create the "pictures".  It's also the intimacy of the relationship between the speaker and the listener that contributes to its power.  Putting that together with an exploration of the creative life of the region seemed a natural thing.  The "conversations" we can have in and through the arts allow us to touch levels of experience that remind us of the range of our humanity, from the most profound to the most light-hearted moments.  And I've witnessed the way the conversations with creative individuals in the region and beyond on "ArtScene" can inspire us and get us out into the community to experience various art offerings directly.

What do you like most about our arts community here in NEPA?
I'm thrilled at both the quantity and quality of the arts activity in the region and also by the impact that artists are having on the quality of life of the communities where they live and work.  Also by the fact that creative people are returning to the area to settle in and help us experience our home turf with fresh eyes.   In fact, few things excite me more than meeting creative people giving shape and form to their vision of  this place.

How long have you been hosting ArtScene and who was your absolute favorite interview?

Conservatively, we say we do on average 250 or more separate arts interviews each year--for at least 9 years running now. There have been so many conversations at the "ArtScene" table that have been memorable, but there's one I'll mention because it was among the most difficult interviews I've ever done and one that unfolded as a truly moving experience

The Academy Award-winning actor Jack Palance from the Hazleton area was having an exhibition of his paintings at the Everhart Museum in Scranton.  He'd been on the media circuit that day, and WVIA was his last stop.  He arrived and he was weary, and his body language said it all.  He took his seat  and twisted his huge frame as far away from the table as he could, while still allowing his voice--rich as it was--to reach the microphone, almost over his shoulder.  I'm certain that my questions were respectful and I tried to make them fresh, but his answers were terse and dry-as-toast.  I'd just about given up hope of  breaking through his reserve, when I decided to go for broke.  His eyes had been wandering and scanning the CD shelves, so I asked if he saw anything he liked among the classical albums.  He paused and stretched his long (push-up?) arm over and pulled out a recording of Mozart's "The Marriage of Figaro".  

His rigid frame softened, and he turned back to talk about how important music had been in his life--Mozart especially.  He may even have said he listened to music while painting.   And then he asked me whether I knew that he wrote poetry, and he talked about his various inspirations and the book he created for his beautiful wife. He actually recited some of his verses.  And suddenly were experiencing a side of this talented and successful actor who had grown up in the hard-scrabble community of Lattimer Mines.  His father worked in the mines and so did he.  He played football and became a boxer, and of course, he was eventually known for his tough-guy persona in Hollywood.  Here he was talking about the delicacy and power of Mozart, about the romantic emotions he expressed in his poetry.  It was a remarkable transformation and a privilege to be permitted some access to the interior world of an extremely private person.

And truly, it's moments like that when I pinch myself and realize how blessed I am to be able to share such conversations with listeners each day, so that we can get to know more about this remarkable place, ourselves and each other.

WVIA Public Media - Television / Radio / Internet / Theater

VIA Studios Global - Broadcast, Internet, Mobile Production Services

CHIAROSCURO Records - Fine Jazz Recordings

#shopscranton Spotlight: Meet Julie MacDowall of Northern Light Espresso Bar

Monday, July 21, 2014

The ScrantonMade team can often be found sitting at Northern Light planning or dreaming about our next event.  We got the chance to chat with owner Julie MacDowall to talk about the joys of owning a downtown business. Northern Light will be providing coffee cuppings and tastings outside their storefront during Arts on the Square.  We can’t wait!

How long has Northern Light Espresso Bar been in business downtown?

​Northern Light has been in business in downtown since 2003. Darby and I purchased the cafe in 2009. ​

What made you decide to purchase a cafe in downtown Scranton?
​We were looking to open a Cafe in town, and found out that this business was for sale.​

What do you enjoy most about being downtown?

​Our customers and our employees. ​

We have made many lifelong friends within our customer base. These are the people that you see every day. The life blood of the business, and we have an opportunity to chat every day, even if the conversation is a brief one. Our employees are our family. Darby and I couldn't imagine our lives without them being a part of it. We celebrate our joys and sorrows together. We have watched many of them grow from being young students into successful adults, with career paths of their own.

What’s your key to success?

​Hard work, dedication, treating employees fairly, and giving the customers what they want. We love to hear from our customers when they let us know what they like or don't like. We have really changed the face of Northern Light. When we purchased the business, there were limited food options; basically nothing more than frozen pastries. Now we offer freshly baked cookies, muffins, scones and cakes, as well as Salads, Sandwiches, Soups and Wraps. We have Bagels and Breads delivered fresh each day. We strive to offer the best and largest assortment of Fair trade, Organic coffees and Loose Leaf Teas.   

Why are events like Arts on The Square are good for our community and small businesses?

​Darby and I have always thought that a Market on the Square would be great way to get people into the downtown.  Arts on the Square does a great job of showcasing locally talented artist and musicians.

Why do you think it’s important to support local?
More and more people realize the importance of buying local and shopping at small businesses.  Keeping the money within your own community helps to provide a healthy economic environment and make downtown a vibrant place to shop, live and work.  

Will you be offering any day of specials during AOTS?  If so, tell us more…..

Our Barista Trainer and Roaster Luke Damiani will be in front of the shop
from 2 pm – 7pm providing coffee cuppings and tastings of some of his own coffees.  He will also be doing some brewing demonstrations featuring the Chemex Pourover, The Clever Dripper and French Press.

Find Northern Light Espresso Bar:
Location: 536 Spruce Street, Courthouse Square, Downtown Scranton

Arts on the Square Spotlight: Meet Lyn Carey of Earth and Wears

Saturday, July 19, 2014
We've been huge fans of Lyn Carey’s pottery and her lovely store Earth and Wears in Dallas which is a haven for local handmade enthusiasts. She’ll be bringing her hand formed stoneware & porcelain jewelry and pottery to Arts on the Square this year!

Tell us a little bit about your business.  We know you have a beautiful storefront in Dallas, PA.  When did you open and what type of wares and artists do you feature?
Earth and Wears opened on November 1st, 2008. My shop has been described as a brick and mortar etsy shop. All of the work is handmade, by mostly local makers. In addition to my hand formed porcelain and stoneware jewelry and functional pottery, I carry the work of several other potters and jewelry makers, wonderful wire art by local wire artist Sean Brady, hair accessories, hand painted silk scarves, felted wool creations, stone coasters, fused glass art, hand crafted wooden gifts, dreamcatchers, prints, cards, mixed media wall art, newborn and toddler tees, stained glass lamps made from recycled wine bottles and more. New items arrive every week. 

When did you realize that there was a need in the community for this type of business?
I love the unique handmade items I have found at craft shows and on etsy. I thought, wouldn't it be great if I could create a brick and mortar where shoppers could find the works of local makers all under one roof.
You are an artist as well as a business owner.  Tell us about your pottery and how you got started in that?

I started taking pottery classes in 2001 with Jean Adams (Wilkes University) and fell in love with clay. I began on the wheel creating functional pottery. I was disappointed with the way some of the glazes on my pots were turning out so I started to do some test tiles. Looking at the tiles, I thought I could use these tile-like pieces to create ceramic jewelry and shortly thereafter started my line of earthy ceramic jewelry. I very often incorporate vintage pieces with my jewelry as well as textures from vintage stampings. I participated in a few craft shows with my daughter (Nicole Carey of Nicole's Threads) and discovered people really enjoyed my pots and my jewelry. Around the same time, my friend Skip Sensbach of Green Dog Pottery put his brick and mortar up for sale as he was going back to school for his Masters. I decided to buy the tiny building and fill it with "handmade lovelies" from mostly local artists. It will be my sixth anniversary on November 1st.

What type of work will you be featuring at Arts on the Square?  

I will be bringing my hand formed stoneware and porcelain jewelry and functional pottery.

Do you do a lot of festivals and events and, if so, what’s your favorite thing about it?

I participate in nearly 40 craft shows and festivals a year. I love the people and the fact that they appreciate handmade things. Very often, a buyer will leave wearing the jewelry they just purchased. It's the best feeling in the world to be at a craft show and see a returning customer from the previous year walk in to my booth wearing the earth and wears purchase he or she made the year before. In addition, I love meeting other makers at the shows and many have become great friends. It's also a great place for me to find unusual items for the store.

What do you enjoy most about owning your own creative business?

 What’s not to love about being surrounded by all things handmade? And the shoppers are the best! I have met and become great friends with so many of the earth and wears customers. How many stores do you go into where the customer is hugging the shop owner (and vice verse) by the time they are done shopping!!!

Where else can our readers find you?

Store Location: earth and wears, 68 Main Street, Dallas, PA 18612
Instagram: @earthandwears

Other Festivals/events: Clover Market (Ardmore, Philly and Chestnut Hill, PA), Art Star Craft Bazaar, Communiversity in Princeton, NJ, BloomsburgArtFest, Arts at Hayfield and Homespun Christmas at PSU W-B, Indiemade CraftBazaar (Allentown), Fine Arts Fiesta, Danville Spring and Fall Festivals

#shopscranton Spotlight: Meet Nadine of Freedlove!

Thursday, July 17, 2014

Freedlove took downtown Scranton by storm in 2012. Since becoming a staple on the scene, this bright and colorful storefront has become a go-to place for Scranton trendsetters. We’re so excited to be partnering with Freedlove for #shopscranton and Arts on the Square! Stop in during the event for a chance to win a piece of original art!

Hi Nadine! 

When did Freedlove open and when did it move to downtown Scranton?

We first opened our store in the summer of 2009 in Honesdale, PA.  About two years later we opened our second store in Scranton, Summer of 2011.  We closed our doors in Honesdale in August 2012 to focus on our Scranton location.

What made you want to open another location in Scranton?

We were looking to grow our business and add another location within close proximity to Honesdale.  We ultimately decided on Scranton because we wanted to be in a community that had some energy.  Not that Honesdale didn’t, we just see Scranton as a making a comeback towards a new vibrant city and we wanted to be a part of it.  If you look around, there are a lot of young business owners here trying to do things differently.  I feel happy and proud to contribute to that.

What do you enjoy most about being a business owner?

Being able to create a beautiful, creative space and share it with others.  Being your own boss has its perks too.

How did you come up with the name Freedlove?

Around the time we started our first store we threw a birthday party for our Dad.  We gave him a family tree.  When we were throwing around names for the store we remembered a 6th generation grandmothers name, it was Freedlove Northrup.  As we were putting together the concept for our store, the name Freedlove seemed like a perfect fit.  We kept it and love it

Tell us a little about your personal background… did you go to school for business or art?

I went to Marywood University and graduated in 2008 with a degree in Photography.  I have always been a very creative, artistic person rather than a business woman.  In fact, I never took a single business class in school.  Looking back I wish I had, but there is no better way to learn than from experience and I've learned a lot over the past five years.

What keeps your creative spark glowing? 

Seeing new places, meeting new people, and doing new things.  Oh, and reading blogs.  I love seeing what other people are seeing and doing too. 

What’s your one piece of advice to someone who is thinking about starting a business….

Keep a good support system. Whether it is a business partner, fellow business owner, the community, friends, and/or family, having the help and support of others is invaluable.

Will you be offer something special during AOTS? 

15% OFF the entire store.  We will also raffle off a few pieces of art that we sell here in the store.

Follow Freedlove:
Instagram @shopfreedlove
Twitter @shopfreedlove

Arts on the Square Spotlight: Meet Sara Mika of Mock Pie Studio

Wednesday, July 16, 2014
Artist Sara Mika from Bloomsburg transforms fabric, batting and thread into whimsical works of art. Her quirky sense of humor is apparent in all of her colorful quilted creations. Meet Sara Mika of Mock Pie Studio and check out some of the quilt designs she will be showing at Arts on the Square.

Tell us about your interesting name, Mock Pie Studio, and the story behind it.  
"Mock Pie" comes from an interpretation of the quilt as an artistic medium. I am comparing quilts to pie. Like pie, quilts are comprised of two outer layers filled with so many sweet possibilities. In reality they're only fabric, batting and thread, but I put all of my creative energy into them as well. My quilts are the "Mock Pie" in Mock Pie Studio! Love me. Love my pie.

How did you discover quilting and when did you realize it was your creative medium of choice?
An exhibit at Lycoming College, my alma mater, started the fascination when in 1999 our Snowden Gallery hosted "The Lucky Tomato Pincushion Project". Incredible works by such celebrated quilt artists as Jane Burch Cochran and Susan Shie were included in the exhibit. When I saw the work for the first time, my jaw dropped. Something just clicked for me. These artists were bringing principles and elements of design into the mix. Previously, I had only considered sewing and quilting to be the things grandmothers occupied their time with, although none of mine ever had. 

Were you always an artist?  What is your artistic background.
I've always been creative and studied art all through grade school.  When it came time to go to college, I couldn't think of anything else I'd be content studying, so I majored in art at Lycoming College in Williamsport, PA, and also received certification in art education for grades K-12. My grandfather, Armondo Dellasanta (now deceased), was a well-known artist in the city of Binghamton, where I grew up.  He and his work were an immense inspiration to me.  They still are.  I spent a lot of time around my grandparents when I was young, watching my grandfather work in a tiny basement studio.  I always wanted to do what he did.  When I decided art quilts were my avenue of choice, I don't think my grandfather understood it as an art form because he was extremely traditional.  Paintings on stretched canvas or prints of an etched plate were art.  Still, he never discouraged me from expressing myself in whatever medium I chose. 

Do you have a favorite creation or collection?
The vagina that touts "I make people" would have to be my favorite creation.  Just after my twins were born, nearly four years ago, I told my obstetrician, "I make such beautiful people."  He laughed, but I was already inspired to make this piece that is now my favorite and remains a hallmark for my quirky sense of humor.  Everyone who sees it in my booth (as a note card or a print...the original piece has sold!) either giggles or whispers.  I love it!

Tell us about your creative process.
I always begin with an idea, and then a sketch.  I transform the sketch to fabric, drawing very lightly with a pencil.  I free-motion stitch the design with needle and thread and then hand paint the image.  I bind my pieces by hand and typically mount them to painted canvas.

For me, art quilting has provided a vehicle for expressing my inner thoughts visually, yet still silently.  Much of it is small and therefore intricate. I find striving for perfection in technique much more attainable in a small format. Creating my work is a very time consuming process, but I adore the alone time. It gives my mind time to slow and time to process my thoughts. As my hands repetitively stitch, I work out my worries and find solace in peacefulness.

What are you planning to bring to Arts on the Square?
Among others, art quilts featuring six of the seven dwarves:  Sneezy, Happy, Grumpy, Dopey, Sleepy, and Bashful.  Doc has very recently found a new home!  I'll be bringing some hand embroidered mushrooms, pincushions that look like pie, and babushka ornaments of which I make a new design each year.   

Where do you primarily sell your work and you do many festivals and events?
My partner, Larry Ney II, and I had a studio in the Moose Exchange building in downtown Bloomsburg that was lost to fire this past January.  I had been selling some work directly from that space, but now, I sell most of my work through ArtspaceGallery in Bloomsburg, PA.  Since the fire, we've rebuilt a home studio and very recently opened it up to students and clients.  Now that I have a reestablished studio space, I hope to get more of my work back on Etsy.  The twins are still small and so I don't do many festivals, especially those that involve traveling.  I show in exhibits and events held by the Susquehanna River Arts group (through the Columbia Montour Visitors Bureau) and also the North Mountain Art League based in Bloomsburg.

Is there anything else you would like our readers to know?

I've had work published in "1,000 Trading Cards" written by Patricia Bolton, four issues of Quilting Arts Magazine, an issue of Quilting Arts Gifts Magazine, and Cloth, Paper, Scissors Studios Magazine.  I am working on writing and illustrating a children's book.

Follow Mock Pie Studio:
Location: Bloomsburg, PA