Arts on the Square Spotlight: Meet Artist Jill Hoffman of Forever Pines

Wednesday, July 1, 2015
We’re so inspired by the work of artist Jill Hoffman of Ithaca NY.  She creates animal creatures in paint, ink, charcoal and other mediums that transport the viewer into her magical world. We can’t wait to introduce her to Scranton at Arts on the Square.

Have you always been an artist?
I've been drawing, painting, and creating things ever since I can remember. A lot of my pieces contain images that have stuck with me since childhood. Nature and animals are the foundations in my work.

To me, there's nothing better than surrounding yourself with books, images, and objects that inspire you to create. I love getting into the meditative state of mind that comes with making art and creatively documenting your stream of consciousness.

My media varies and changes often. Acrylic paint, inks, charcoal and chalk pastels are some mediums I use in my work. I like to experiment, so I find myself exploring and working with different materials whenever I feel the inclination to pick up something new! Lately I have been delving into lino-cuts.

 How would you describe your work?
It's always hard to pin-point a description. I consider my style as dark storybook, sometimes reminiscent of folk art, and influenced by Asian styles. I'm a fan of dream art and automatic process, so there tends to be a nod to surrealism. 

Tell us a little bit about your process.
I'm a bit of a split personality with creative process. For certain projects, I like to do a lot of research on subject matter, deliberately choose media and intention for the piece. For others, I like to sketch, play with media, and let images manifest with no expectation. I enjoy both approaches, balancing control with instinct.

I see that you are from Ithaca, NY.  Have you ever been to Scranton before?
I have driven through Scranton, but that is the most of it. I'm excited to get to know the town better!

What are you creating for Arts on the Square?
I've been working on a new series of miniature animal paintings. I'm a bit obsessed with making small art pieces! I'll have matted and framed prints of those, as well as original drawings and paintings. I'm also working on new lino-cuts, silk screen designs, and jewelry with semi-precious stones and hand painted lake-stone animal pendants.

Where can our readers find your work?

I will be a vendor at the Corning Arts and Wine Festival, August 1st and the Hammondsport Festival of Crafts, August 15th and 16th.
You can find my hand painted stones, greeting cards, and prints for sale at Stomping Grounds in Geneva, NY, Amuse Modern Cottage Industry in Ithaca NY and original artwork at Handwork Artisan Cooperative where I work alongside 45 other local artists in Ithaca NY. 
My Etsy shop will be restocked this summer with new work and I frequently update my Facebook page with works in progress.

Arts on the Square Spotlight: Meet Ryan Makinson of Clarks Cultures

Saturday, June 27, 2015
We love Kombucha!  This fermented drink is not only delicious but has wonderful health benefits. Clarks Cultures has taken the area by storm since opening up shop about a year ago and we’re so glad that they are vending at this year’s Arts on the Square.

Hello Ryan!

So what exactly is kombucha?
Kombucha is a fermented tea!  Brewing kombucha starts out very simply: It begins with steeped tea and sugar, the sugar being a food source for the culture that does all of the work.  Kombucha is fermented with a yeast & bacteria culture over a period of days and weeks.  The yeast eat up the sugar, which results in carbon dioxide (effervescence!) and alcohol - the alcohol is then converted by the bacteria into their own food so they can grow and multiply.  So, after a brew session is completed, we're left with a non-alcoholic, low-sugar, probiotic drink!

Photo: Lawrence Braun

How long have you been brewing kombucha and when did you start?
I have been brewing kombucha for just over two years, and my business has been up & running for one year.  I discovered kombucha when I started working at Everything Natural about three years ago.  One of my co-workers gave me my first culture and instructions on how to make my own brew, and I haven't stopped brewing since.  I literally began with one kombucha culture and now I have hundreds.  Since I picked up my first culture in Clarks Summit, I decided to name the company after the town, Clarks Cultures!

Photo: Lawrence Braun

Do you have various flavors of kombucha?
Yes indeedy -- Naturally, I have an Original flavor which is just kombucha, nothing added.  Additionally, I have six other flavors that are crafted using real, organic fruits & herbs during a secondary fermentation -- BlūBerry, Turmeric & Ginger, I'm a Ginger!, Raspberry, Slightly Strawberry, and Mango-Lime.

What are some of the health benefits of kombucha?
Basically, good bacteria in - bad bacteria out.  Since kombucha is a probiotic beverage, it helps restore good bacteria in the stomach.  As a result, bad bacteria have a harder time taking hold within the digestive system and the body can more easily eliminate.  In turn, this helps promote a detox effect by restoring the natural balances of the stomach, which can then contribute to overall, bodily health.  Sidenote: What I just said is what I have learned about kombucha and hasn't necessarily been verified or approved by the FDA.  (Have to cover all of the angles...)

 Photo: Lawrence Braun

Where can our readers find your product?
Several different places around Scranton: JJ McNally's, Zummo's Café, Terra Preta, eden- a vegan cafe, Mansour's, and the South Side Farmers Market every Saturday!  If you want to venture outside of the Electric City, you can find my full line at Everything Natural (Clarks Summit), and other places like House of Nutrition (Luzerne), The Mill Market (Hawley), and several more -- check the Clarks Cultures Facebook page for the full list.

Learn more about Clarks Cultures:
Facebook: Clarks Cultures
Instagram: @clarkscultures
Scranton Times-Tribune article

Arts on the Square Spotlight: Meet Artist Katie Novak

Tuesday, June 23, 2015
We’ve been a fan of Katie Novak’s work since she lived right here in Scranton. Now residing in Philadelphia, we’re thrilled she is bringing her artwork & handmade products back to Scranton for Arts on the Square.

Have you always been an artist?
I have loved making art since the day I got my first box of crayons! I graduated from Marywood University in '06 with a BFA in Illustration. Shortly after graduating I played a role in the rebirth of Scranton’s Test Pattern Art Gallery. I was a studio assistant for a minimalist painter where I learned the invaluable lesson of how to properly stretch a canvas -and I’ve stretched a lot of canvases since then!  I worked at the Philadelphia Museum of Art for a few years and now I am working at the University of the Arts in Philadelphia.  My preferred mediums are acrylic paint, water colors, and wood. For a while I was painting on large scale canvases but currently I have done a complete 180 and really enjoy working on tiny canvases. I like to experiment with different textures and layers and recently have been painting and carving on pieces of wood. I also make custom frames for each of my paintings!

We’ve loved your paintings since you resided here in Scranton. What currently inspires your work?
My surroundings are my biggest influence. A lot of times I don't know what I am painting until I start painting. When I step back from my work and look at the last few paintings I made collectively, they are usually connected with where I am - literally. I am currently obsessed with painting buildings and houses which makes sense because I live in a city. Everywhere I go I am surrounded by buildings and row homes. Whether I am looking at them or not they are everywhere! And it shows in my most recent work. I am obsessed with rectangles!

I see that you designed a line of greeting cards.  Was that your first foray into product design?
Actually, I started with handmade wood planters! When I decided to start selling my work at craft fairs I wanted to have an array of handmade items available. It was really important to me that I was making as much as possible with my own hands. So I dabbled in handmade, hand painted greeting cards. I am having a lot of fun with them!

What will you be showing at Arts on the Square?
I will have my custom framed paintings, wood planters (with plants!), and greeting cards.

Where can our readers find your work?
I am new to craft fairs but I will be at a few more coming up, the next one I have lined up is Arts on the Square (of course!) I will also be at The Philly Mart in Manayunk section of Philadelphia. I have an Etsy. And I update my website and blog frequently with new work and projects I am working on.

Find Katie Novak Art online:

Arts on the Square Spotlight: Meet Jennifer Barrett of Woven

Sunday, June 21, 2015
We’ve been fancying these gorgeous dreamcatchers since we first spotted them in our Instagram feed.  Meet Jennifer Barrett of Woven; the artist behind these dreamy creations. We can’t wait to see them at Arts on the Square!

Tell us a little about how Woven came about?
Last spring I began making dreamcatchers as a hobby. As I got better I thought about trying to sell them and coincidentally a local store was looking for a local artist that made dreamcatchers to sell in their store. So, in the fall I began selling my dreamcatchers at The Wonderstone Gallery in Dunmore. In March, I decided to make an Etsy page, and with the help of my friend, Woven was created. 

Your dreamcatchers are just, well, so dreamy! What inspired you to start making them?
I don’t really know if anything really inspired me. I’ve always loved them and have received many as gifts. One day I just decided to get some materials and make one. I have been since.

Tell us a little something about your process.
I usually watch a movie or listen to music while I work on a dreamcatcher. Depending on the size, they can take anywhere from 2 hours to many hours over the course of a couple of days. My favorite materials to use are hemp, sticks, feathers, scarf yarn, and any size of metal rings.

Where else can our readers find your work? 
You can find my dreamcatchers in The Wonderstone Gallery in Dunmore, Nearme Yoga in Moosic, and Etsy. I am also doing Arts on the Square in July and First Friday in August at eden-a vegan café.

Find out more about Woven
Instagram: @sailorjennyy

Announcing the Arts on the Square Band Schedule!!!

Saturday, June 20, 2015
We've got the best music lineup for Arts on the Square thanks to our pals over at Highway 81 Revisited and Summersteps Records!  They are once again hosting stages at AOTS and it promises to be a day of fun & lively local music.  Check out the schedule below! 

Find out more about these great acts: 

Brian TV

Heavy Blonde

Cherokee Red

Family Animals

Roy Williams & the Human Hands

Skip Monday

The Bog Swing Group

Coal Town Rounders

Rogue Chimp

See you at Arts on the Square!  Don't forget to visit our Facebook EVENT PAGE to get lots of fun updates!