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Bob’s Art Blog: It’s Elementary and 3rd in Burg Highlights

“The best-laid plans of mice and men often go awry,” wrote Scottish poet Robert Burns centuries ago.

And such was the case for the “case” to come. This blog or a variation like it was supposed to work exactly two years ago to the day. It has been edited, updated, and is now even more relevant since the pandemic sidelined the original blog on March 13, 2020.

Andrea Grove, owner of Elementary Coffee Co., in her North Street cafe

Elementary Coffee Co. had opened its doors just six months prior to standing crowds, and for the 3rd of Burg Fridays, customers spilled into the blocks surrounding it. We couldn’t even get close to the “stage”. My trusted friend and constant companion, Dr. Watson (actually my photographer and my wife, Jana) and I wanted to experience the mystery and allure of the elementary. All we had to do was follow our noses to 256 and its North Street headquarters. It’s a cafe that beckons “I need my caffeine” early in the morning until it closes at 3:00 p.m., seven days a week. And that’s just one of the many reasons why Elementary stands out from the crowd.

When life gave owner Andrea Grove lemons, she felt it was time to expand on all aspects of what goes into making a superlative cup of Joe. Having to shut down their physical building for a period of time proved to be a challenge. Andrea shared from the heart, “The team was going home to their own corners of the city, and the key was how to maintain that elemental spirit.”

The elementary videos provided tutorials on a wide range of coffee-related topics, from home brewing methods to kettle brewing to grinder variations. Using these videos as a starting point led to options beyond drinks. A new series included interviews with city figures represented across the board. Even city council candidates were part of the process. This blog is as much about the human mind as anything else. It is defined by the perseverance and resilience a person carries within, demonstrating the means Andrea embodies to overcome obstacles. In other words, there would be no art without the elementary heart.

In November 2019, when Elementary Coffee opened, art was one of the many components on offer, showcasing local artists and their creations. With guest artists who change scenery regularly, the art is conversational and more than just a pretty face. The art has resurfaced now that the cafe is back in full swing.

Painting by Michael Julian D’Ambrosio

Recently, Luis Cuevas brought his fantastic masks made of recycled materials to his walls. Currently, Michael Julian D’Ambrosio, abstract expressionist painter, offers explosions of ideas, inkblots of colors left for exploration, explanation and interpretation. Describing his art, Ambrosio states “working in layers of paint, time and space…in acrylic and ink and watercolor and ink that speak to nature and the human form. The paintings reflect chaos as well as an organized sense of space with a residue of marking, serving as a timeline and visual map of memory.

Looking back on that March two years ago, Andrea understood the importance of taking service to the next level through product innovation and commitment to her customers. Delivering to customers’ doorsteps is perhaps its best marketing plan yet. It’s a hard serve to beat. Andrea talked about her coffee continuum.

“Talking to people over coffee is really what makes the world go round, which is getting smaller and smaller,” she said.

As for us, Watson dreamed of a cup of their Teapigs Chi tea, while I remembered a quote from Sherlock Holmes: “It has long been an axiom of mine that the little things are infinitely the most important.”

Just ask Andrea Grove for the little things; they all contribute to success. And she’s the first to recognize that the operation is percolated to perfection thanks to the team at North Street and the Broad Street Market outpost, brewing on all four burners. After all, it is elementary.

Highlights of the Art Walk

Photograph by Beth Hager

Arts on the Square at Market Square Presbyterian Church features Beth Hager’s work as one of its 3rd in Burg highlights this Friday, 6:30-8:30 p.m., and again Sunday, March 20, from noon-1:30 p.m. Beth is an accomplished photographer as well as the museum director of the State Museum of Pennsylvania. The works on paper, canvas and glass speak of his images capturing diversity that “tell a story that allows for an appreciation of the mundane”. Additionally, Kari Hultman, artisan extraordinaire, will showcase exquisite examples of woodworking, leathermaking, and miniature houses with her wares. The church offers parking in the garage in the market square by entering the church at 20 S. 2n/a St. from the first level of the garage.

Miniature Flour Mill by Kari Hultman

March Madness at the Art Association of Harrisburg runs through March 31. No basketball but an amazing art exhibit, and you’d be mad if you missed it. Probably as crazy as a March hare. Artists Pamela J. Black and Jessie Waite deliver their stunning paintings around the powerful, powerful photography of Ashley Moog Bowlsbey. Black and Waite manipulate proportions and colors in their own stylized way. Bowlsbey creates a genre by photographing models and friends wrapped in used makeup remover pads. Sensation is heightened to a hypnotic state in its visual presentation as the resulting photographs are two-dimensional in scope and scintillation. Bowlsbey’s works prove that true beauty goes far beyond the skin as the audience peels back the layers of their minds.

Wearin’ O’ the Green until March 26 at 126 East King Street in York. No need to be green with envy, there’s still time to catch HIVE artspace’s latest exhibition of the month, aptly named “Shades of Green”. Owner Susan Scofield spoke enthusiastically about the pot of gold artists represented, including Jen Simon, Mark Broomell, Andrew Smith, Michael Hower, Charlie Hubbard and Kelly Nevin.

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