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Bob’s Art Blog: Creators and actors of sustainability

Work by Phillip Wells

A shared appreciation for sustainability connects two unique artists, Phillip Wells and Jennifer Hara, who are committed to saving the earth one project at a time.

Shaker, Phil Wells of Millworks Studio 213, is like lightning, constantly on the move creating and designing furniture and fixtures and using his skills as a carpenter for the preservation firm Johnson & Griffiths. Certainly one of the most interesting characters walking the streets of Midtown, Phil is truly a modern renaissance man. His prowess as a carpenter and lighting designer is legendary. He appreciates the educational foundation he received from the Memphis School of Design. Memphis like Milan, Italy, not Tennessee, as you might think.

The brightly colored components of Phil’s aesthetic emerged in the 1980s, the brainchild of Ettore Sottsass, who designed postmodern furniture. For Phil, the appeal goes beyond the terrazzo materials and plastic laminate often associated with abstract decor. Phil’s inspiration can be childlike, filled with joy and whimsy.

Additionally, Phil is a sustainability advocate and certified as a LEED Green Associate, which comes in handy in his role as a preservation technician. With over 12 years of hands-on study and experience, Wells brings a wealth of know-how to the table. Focusing on sustainability, Phil shared that he uses non-toxic finishes, natural dyes, beeswax, hand-rubbed oils, and local PA materials. He prides himself on “creating homewares that cater to modern sensibilities.” His work can be seen in homes and businesses throughout the central region of the state. His restoration work with Johnson & Griffiths can be seen in the Capitol and State Forum buildings. Look for Phil in his Millworks studio and on the streets of Midtown.

For 25 years, local artist Jennifer Hara has been “creating” naturally organic jewelry under the name NomadicInspiration. She is attracted by the way of life of a tribe, always on the move. Sustainability is key to the philosophy nomads embrace in their daily walk as they “use what surrounds them in nature, sustainably, without producing waste,” Hara said.

“This is reflected not only in my use of natural objects, bones, shells, feathers, stones, but also in the reuse of obsolete jewellery, breaking them down and using their components in new pieces”, revealed the artist.

Display and jewelry by Jennifer Hara

Her artistic accessories include earrings, necklaces and suncatchers. The feathers she incorporates into her offerings are all “gifted,” and if a customer wishes to order a special piece, she can incorporate a feather of her own. Exquisite ornaments speak for themselves and are created without precedent, no two are exactly alike.

At the most recent Odd Ones Bizarre, held in the Millworks Community Hall, Ms. Hara showcased her jewelry on a unique display of branches and tree limbs connected with moss and lichen. Hanging from this miniature forest were found earrings, suncatchers and necklaces that shimmer and shine, balls to catch the attention of passers-by. Not being one to resist such an artistic atmosphere, I immediately saw “the forest for the trees” when the jewelry emerged, capturing the imagination.

Jennifer, the jeweler/artist and all-in-one display enthusiast, presented a powerful package. Jewelry, as mentioned earlier, lends itself to the natural environment, treasures dangle dramatically, delicately and desirable. Her art speaks of exotic places as her Etsy shop is aptly titled NomadicInspiration. His skills as a creative craftsman and cobbler of precious stones for adventurous and free-spirited wanderers epitomize the romantic side of life. His collection sums it all up.

Some items can be found at the Healing Spot above the Cornerstone Café in Camp Hill. Additionally, Jennifer will be at the “Women of Folk Festival” at the Moon Dancer Winery in Wrightsville on September 10. She can also be contacted by email at

3rd in the Burg—Birds of a Feather

Sustainability has always been central to the art of Harrisburg artist Charlie Feathers. By recycling found objects from discarded wires and tubes, he creates treasures from the trash and abandoned objects of others. At least for the summer, Charlie has joined the herd of artists at Harrisburg’s Gallery at 2n/a, adding novelty to Ted Walke’s budding nest of Mavericks creating surreal, unscrupulous art. The art aviary includes in-house residents Sean Adomanis, Chad Whitaker, Rance Shepstone, Ashley Russo, Keegan Beinhower and, of course, Ted.

Charlie shared that for Friday the 3rd in the Burg he will be in two places at once, flying from Gallery to 2n/a at the Art Association of Harrisburg’s Opening Reception for its Summer Members’ Art Exhibition from 5 to 8 p.m. Surprise jurors from the Burg will add an element of mystery to the evening’s events. And the best part… it’s free for everyone.

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