Art Watch: Art is happening everywhere in Chester County

While some places get a lot of attention, don’t overlook Oxford, Phoenixville and Coatesville

By Lele Galer, Columnist, The Times

UTColLogoGalerWhat everybody needs to know about the Chester County Art Scene is that the arts are not just centered around Chadds Ford, Kennett Square and West Chester, but also flourishing in less heralded places such as Phoenixville, Oxford and Coatesville.

In Phoenixville, if you haven’t been there in a while, it is astonishing to see the effects of art on the total revitalization of that town. From the Art Gallery at Franklin Commons, to the Phoenix Village Art Center, and the plethora of small galleries and businesses that all hang local art to the gorgeous new public mural painted by celebrated local artist Teresa Haag,


Noted Phoenixville area artists Teresa Haag in front of her mural in the borough. Photo by Don Truesdell.

Phoenixville is in the midst of a Renaissance. It is a great example of what art can do to bring new life and business to an entire town. In the towns of Oxford and Coatesville, art associations and studios are also thriving and re-engaging the community.

Art Partners Studio in Coatesville recently moved from a two room space to a large 2,000 square foot facility at the former Carl Benner School that incorporates comprehensive adult and children’s art education programs. Exhibitions are held at the Studio and in downtown venues such as the neighboring Coatesville Savings Bank.


A painting of Lukens Steel Mill by Klaus Grutzka.

Currently the work of artist Klaus Grutzka “Paintings, Lukens Steel,” on loan from the National Iron & Steel Heritage Museum, is on exhibit at the bank location. Art Partners Studio is busy in the classrooms of the school district, in the town and in partnerships with local artist studio spaces. They are bringing art into the lives of children and adults and revitalizing the town with their energy and commitment to Coatesville and the surrounding areas. If someone wants to take a class, but can’t afford it, then the Art Partners will make sure that they can take that class.

“There is tuition aid for eligible families and no one is precluded from participating because of an inability to pay,” states Director Teresa Salinas. Art Partners Studio is rapidly growing, offering three times the number of classes for adults and children compared to the previous year. Originally founded in the 1990s by Lindsay J. Brinton as a program of the Chester Springs Studio, Art Partners Studio became an independent non-profit in 2007, and have concentrated their efforts on a very impressive, diverse list of programming partnerships.


The Benner Building in Coatesville, the new home of Art Partners Studio.

This September, Art Partners Studio offers an exciting Master Workshop series “Memorializing Coatesville’s Industrial Landscape” of the former Lukens Steel mill. Artist and PAFA professor Jill A. Ripinski will be offering a plein air workshop on the grounds of the mill, and photographer and University of the Arts lecturer Vincent Feldman will be offering a photography workshop with the interior and exterior of a standing mill as the subject matter. This Master Workshop was made possible through a grant from The Stewart Huston Charitable Trust, and you can sign up for these workshops online or by calling the Studio at 610-384-3030.

One of their art partnerships is with Barking Tree Pottery, which offers a broad ceramics program headed up by ceramic artist Susan Bankert. Ms. Bankert will be showing her ceramics work at Galer Estate Vineyard and Winery this Thursday August 20th from 4-8 pm.

image004In Oxford, at the Oxford Art Alliance, this Friday August 21st from 5-8pm, everyone is invited to the opening of their Member’s Show. With over 300 members, the Oxford Alliance is going strong and I am looking forward to seeing the multi-media artworks from this great organization. The town of Oxford has their “First Friday art openings” on the 3rd Friday of every month. “This gives everyone a chance to visit the towns of West Chester and Kennett for their first Fridays, and come to Oxford for the 3rd Friday” explains Managing Director Christine Grove. For their First Fridays, the Oxford Alliance has “Art on First” where people are invited to work together on a collaborative community art project under the guidance of artist Francesca Applewhite. The Alliance is also engaging the community every month with art lectures, movies, events, a full line up of Fall classes, and an enormously popular National Juries Exhibition this September.

Just across the street from the Oxford Art Alliance, the Susan Melrath Studio will be open for art and wine lovers, serving wine this Friday from Wilson Vineyards, from 5-8pm. Susan is a wonderful artist from Seattle who has made a home here, and you can catch her work at If you are looking for more art and wine combinations, checkout the new Brandywine Artisan Wine Trail ( to see a list of the participating wineries showing paintings this month, and sculptures in September!

 Lele Galer is a local artist who has chaired numerous art shows, taught art history and studio art, public art and has chaired, written and taught the Art in Action Art Appreciation series for the UCFD schools for the past 12 years. She worked at the Metropolitan Museum of Art, and wrote for the Associated Press in Rome. She has been dedicated to Art History and art education for most of her adult life. Lele and her husband Brad own Galer Estate Winery in Kennett Square and she is on the Board of the Chester County Art Association and The Delaware Valley Art League.

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