Tag Archives: art

Pau: It Is Only And Ever Heart Work


Pau leaned forward in the backseat of my friend Will’s car on the way to Mana Contemporary in Jersey City, chatting with me about ideas for my residency at Parlor Gallery, photographing women at home.

“There’s a word in German that doesn’t translate to English—called “heimat.” … It is when your heart feels at home.”

The phrase was like a memory recall. I immediately remembered the feeling I get when I’m floating in the ocean, sitting upstairs at McGrath’s, watching a band that I love play, laying on the couch with Will eating tacos, the smell of my parent’s house, scream singing Debra by Beck in the middle of a bar, walking down the hallway of the apartment I just left in Harrisburg, a hug from a close friend, watching Jill cook breakfast…

Whelp. I think I might need to do a second part to this project.

About a month or so later, at the end of her time here, Pau and I sat on the boardwalk watching the ocean. She said that the old Pau died when she arrived in Asbury this time and a new Pau was born. And I don’t know entirely what that meant for her, but I believe her… and I’m thankful to have been there with her when she was feeling new again.

“It is only and ever heart work,” she said.

Pau, doing the work—finishing up some really beautiful pieces and visiting her murals on the boardwalk one last time before flying away. Asbury Park, NJ. June, 2018.


Detroit: The Heidelberg Project

Andrew and I went to The Heidelberg Project on an overcast weekday with only a few people filtering through the landscape. Our experience was was quiet, at our own pace, but I’ve heard that on busy days the whole block can be bustling with people. The Heidelberg Project in Detroit is a massive art environment created by Tyree Guyton with a mission “to inspire people to appreciate and use artistic expression to enrich their lives and to improve the social and economic health of the greater community.” It’s a tremendous installation with a long timeline of how art can truly combat poverty and blight and heal communities. The whole block, which seems to be constantly evolving, was a visual adventure… joyous sensory overload. I was profoundly pleased to be surrounded by so much color, so much texture.

A woman in a car pulled up to where we were roaming around one of the lots… Her son was in the passenger seat. We had a friendly exchange and she asked if we were from the area–“No, we’re both from Harrisburg, Pennsylvania!” She glanced back at her son and said, “See! People travel from all over the place to come here!” She turned to us again, “I used to live in this neighborhood a long time ago and I just wanted to bring my son here. I want him to understand the power of art.”

Everything is awesome.





There are so many people in Harrisburg who inspire with their love, sacrifice, and intention. I witness all the beautiful things they do and as a result, I feel drawn to them and driven to work harder, create well, and love more. The Giving Keys collaboration with Koji is an opportunity to recognize a few of those people and I am so excited and honored to make images to celebrate them. This place has so much heart. And I love to give a little relief and recognition to tireless efforts. It’s important to lift each other up. The following is text by Jen Merrill inciting our little Harrisburg chapter of the Giving Keys story… We encourage you to do the same: buy the keys with purpose, open your heart and allow others to inspire you, pass the message on.


Text by Jen Merrill 

Most of us have a ring full of keys that jingle along as we carry on through our days, but do we think about the power that simple ring of keys might hold?

One might unlock the door to your home, offering a safe refuge from the world outside. One might unlock the door to your place of work, where you hopefully feel inspired by what you do as you toil away and, at the very least, earn a livable wage to help feed, house and clothe yourself and your family. One might be for your car – or bike lock! – allowing you to get here, there, and just about everywhere with ease.

And with these keys comes a sense of vulnerability, as they act as a map of our lifestyle, a way to access the parts of our lives that mean most to us.


The Giving Keys is an organization that understands the power of these tiny pieces of shaped metal.  On the surface, they make jewelry, but their purpose is so much more than that. The Giving Keys employs individuals looking to transition out of homelessness to create jewelry out of repurposed keys, each engraved with a unique message like “hope,” “strength,” or “courage.” When the wearer of the keys meets someone else in need of the message, they’re encouraged to pay it forward and pass the key on to its next owner, spreading its message out into the world.

The Giving Keys recently approached Koji about creating his own key, and after much thought, he decided to use the word “Peacemaker,” which shares its name with a track on his recent split with La Dispute, Never Come Undone. The song was written for his friend and fellow activist, Nate Henn, who was killed by an al-Shabaab suicide bombing in Kampala, Uganda during the 2010 final World Cup match. Nate, as part of the organization Invisible Children, raised money and advocated for children forced into warfare.


“I think it’s important to show the link between art and activism as forms of expression that give people agency. Our mission with Colormake is to get people to engage with ideas, their sense of self, and sense of community,” says Koji.

Colormake is giving keys to three very deserving Harrisburg individuals: Ashlee Dugan, Loretta Barbee-Dare, and Stephen Michael Haas. These leaders are much like keys themselves, unlocking the goodness, the potential, the beauty of their communities and allowing us into the places that we need most. We admire how they use their voices, passion and leadership to continually uplift those around them.


Ashlee Dugan and Loretta Barbee-Dare have had a rich history together of activism and community work in the Harrisburg, Pa. area, ranging from their time with Food Not Bombs, Association of Community Organizations for Reform Now (ACORN), and Pennsylvanians Against the Death Penalty. In the current moment, Ashlee works as the interim market manager at the Broad Street Market and is the co-founder of The Greenhouse, a Harrisburg-based community organization that recovers healthy food that would have otherwise been wasted and preserves it in healthy and creative ways before distributing it to the community. Loretta has worked hard to receive her real estate license and continues to work to get members of the community into homes they can love and afford. Both of these women work tirelessly to give new opportunity and resources to those that need it most.


Stephen Michael Haas is a multi media artist based in Harrisburg, Pa., known for his colorful, multi-dimensional work that’s filled with honest, positive messages that encourage self-discovery and display the creative process in its sincerest form. When looking at a piece of Stephen’s work, one feels immersed in the artist’s brain as his off-kilter characters and sentiments jump off the page – or wall, or screen, or installation – and into the viewer’s heart. Stephen recently created a zine entitled “You Can Try, But You Can Also Not Try,” and he’s worked alongside Wayne White. His dedication to his craft is admirable to all as he inspires those around him to do what they love, take risks, and not be afraid to grow and evolve their work in the public eye.


We’re so pleased to honor these individuals by offering them each a Giving Key and encouraging them to pay it forward when the right time comes, helping to unlock their own power as well as the power of the communities they know and love.

The MakeSpace

The MakeSpace is a row house converted into artist studios and a community room that is intended for art shows (individual and collaborated), classes, projects, live music, collecting art materials, or whatever the swelling artistic hearts desire.  

I bet I sound like a broken record. The past few months I found myself enthusiastically spewing the phrase, “Have you been to the MakeSpace yet?!” almost on the daily. The opening has ignited immeasurable inspiration. The collaborating MakeSpace artists love this town. Art can be done anywhere but they chose HERE.  Through experiences, networks, and riding together on the same wave length they are existing as a creative catalyst for each other and the City of Harrisburg.

Boom!  Check it!

The Artists:

Leah and Fisher

Ian Kanski

Liz Laribee (Director)

Amanda Owens

Cat Rios

Upcoming events:

Live Music on Wednesday January, 16 at eight o’clock with a $5 suggested donation:  L’ASTRONAUT and HELLO SHARK

Fresh Prints:  a group exhibit is on Friday January, 18 from six o’clock until ten o’clock.
JACKIE BURKE (Harrisburg)
TENNYSON TIPPY (Philadelphia)

Go absorb:  http://hbgmakespace.com


Meet Sol Amstutz…

He’s an artist, designer for Pavlov Visuals, and a tattoo apprentice at Dexterity Studios in Lancaster, PA.

And let me tell you, he’s 26, doing what he loves, making money, producing designs for clients ranging from Metallica, The Beatles, Marvel Comics, to Lamb of God, and Every Time I Die, furthering his education by learning the art of tattooing, and growing beyond the spectrum of what people expect from an artist.  To put it simply, Hell yes, he’s doing well…

I was thrilled to get to know this guy better.  When we sat down for dinner a few weeks ago I think we both left feeling pumped and motivated.  He’s confident, but not cocky, and certainly focused.  I think he’s someone that most of us can relate to… When it comes down to it we all have a childhood, a youth, get an education whether it be involving school or not, have ideas of where we should be at certain points in our lives, have bigger struggles, smaller bumps, find the breaking point for our own give-a-damn, learn how to work, etc., but Sol has the drive to take all those life experiences and make himself into someone exceptional.

Will we ever be too old to want to burn things?  …nah.

Cheers, dude.  Keep going…

The Huckle Buckle Boys

Have you ever envisioned people as monsters? Monsters as people? Yourself as a creature? These ghoulish and foolish beings: disconcerting yet humble. And appearances are deceiving, they are more afraid of you than you are of them.

Garrick Dorset and Zack Rudy are The Huckle Buckle Boys: Black Hearted Kings. And this is the journey of higher learning…

THIS ART can be found at the gallery at the HACC Midtown Campus in Harrisburg, PA until June 8, 2012. It is open Thursdays from 5 to 7pm.

Liz Laribee

“Love community and you will kill it. Love your brother and you will build it.”
-Dietrich Bonhoeffer

Last Monday, I was much obliged to spend time with and interview the lovely and wonderful, Liz Laribee! Among many things, you may know her as a local artist, the Events Director of the Midtown Scholar, or the jovial and infectious young woman who’s laughter can be recognized almost anywhere. She is also an avid and experienced hug-giver. Here are some snippets from our interview!

DF: What all does your job entail here at the Scholar?

Liz: This is where I operate out of and its very important to me to be involved in helping creative people have an outlet for exhibiting their talents, whether that’s musicians, community organizers, artists, writers, etc. One of the things I love about this place is that its completely poly-culture. There are so many different things happening in and around this space that it brings every socioeconomic demographic through the door. That’s very important to me. It’s a complete representation of the city around me. There are a lot of places everywhere that attract a very specific lens and specific population of people and there’s a place for that, but that’s not my jam. My jam is being involved in the lives of people who are living on the same street as I am and across town and providing a place for them to come mingle because strange and wonderful things happen when disparate people get together.

DF: I agree! There are a lot of places that only cater to one demographic or select demographics but its apparent that isn’t what you want to see here.

Liz: It doesn’t mean necessarily that we’re doing anything better than anyone else but its a matter of understanding who we are, who will be coming here, and what product we are giving them. The product here being hospitality and education in this wonderful mixture. I mean, I work in a bookstore! Which means essentially anybody who wanted to could get a complete education about anything they wanted to by coming through these doors and ingesting whatever is around them culturally, from the books, and the people they’re seeing. I love that! I work in a setting where everybody has the capacity to deepen their experience as a person. And its not just a social gathering either… its based upon just being within the dregs of culture.

After our meeting, it was my hope to capture Liz: a ball of pure love and joy, and a strong and determined woman.

Liz has also founded the Midtown Poets which meets at Midtown Scholar as well as being on the board for 3rd In The Burg. Upcoming events can be found at http://www.midtownscholar.com/ and at http://www.facebook.com/3rdInTheBurg.

In other exciting news, Liz has also committed to doing photography for a new magazine coming soon called “Local” which will be created by Dan Webster and Andrew Bargh. (Stay tuned for more on that, folks!)

Please take the time to support her and visit her website! http://www.lizlaribee.com/