Blurring the Lines: Philadelphia’s cityscapes inspire printmaker/painter

Whether it's a flower at her El stop or a stately Federal mansion at her favorite cemetery, Suzanne Francis finds inspiration for her prints and paintings all around her. History, architecture, flora and fauna have influenced her work since she started creating and selling art in the mid-90s. “I started doing it because it was something I wanted to see,” she says. “I’ve always been interested in the things around me.”

The Ardmore, Pa., resident lived in Philadelphia from 1993 to 2012 and considers the metro area her "stomping grounds." Her work remains full of her interpretations of homes, parks and city landmarks, including Love Park, City Hall, and the 30th Street Station. She uses gouache, a type of paint that's made when watercolors are mixed with gum arabic, giving it a more opaque look that creates an ethereal stained-glass appearance to some of her works. 

One landmark she plans on celebrating in a few prints is The Woodlands, where the Go West! Craft Fest has been held since 2012. The site includes a cemetery, garden and mansion. “I love that [Go West is] in a graveyard,” she says. "The event is really fun.”

To learn more about Suzanne Francis Fine Art, visit suzannefrancisfineart.com.

 

Worlds of Fun: Guitarist uses his world travels to create dynamic, inclusive music program for kids and their families

Move aside, “Itsy Bitsy Spider." Guitarist and children’s music teacher Jay Sand is kicking it up a notch. The founder of All Around This World, an interactive global music program for children up to 9-year-olds and their families, teaches Tinikling dancing (from the Philippines) and the Schuhplattler, a traditional Bavarian folk dance, among many other international musical favorites.

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Cart of the Matter: Cali expat brings Mexican fare flair to her West Philadelphia neighborhood

photo by Neal SantosSometimes all you need to bring a community together is a really great taco. West Philadelphian Vanessa Jerolmack, owner of the Taco Angeleno food cart, may not have realized how big of an appetite locals would have for her authentic Mexican fare, but she does now. 

Jerolmack moved from Los Angeles to Philadelphia in 2007 and realized the kind of food that was so abundant in California was lacking in her new city. As a way to fill that void and to get to know her neighbors better, she began cooking vegan versions of the cuisine she loved and inviting people over for brunch with her and her husband, Doug. 

The lively times getting to know their neighbors were so enjoyable that the couple wanted to do more, but they didn't want to start a restaurant. After a visit to the Memphis Taproom’s beer garden, an outdoor space on a small empty lot that housed a food truck, something clicked. The couple had purchased the vacant lot behind their house in 2012 and planned to use it for a garden, but what if they could get the city to approve Jerolmack’s dream to sell Mexican food there?

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