Untold Stories of Berks County Artists
Thanks to the Berks Arts Council, The Pennsylvania Council on the Arts and the Wyomissing Foundation, we are able to share with you the stories of the unsung artists in Berks County. These are artists who are doing their work without acclaim.
At The People Chronicles we share the stories of people who do not typically have a platform, either because of the lack of money or perceived influence. We believe every story matters and we can all learn something from every story.
In the course of sharing stories we learned that there is an entire community of very passionate and talented artists in Berks County who do not necessarily have a place to expose their work. None the less they keep pursuing their passion and creating amazing art. This should not be hidden.
We will spotlight artists and their work right here. They are sharing their story: how they got started, why they do what they do, their inspirations and hopes, tips for young artists and even a little something most folks don’t know about them! Check back weekly to meet artists who are creating beautiful artwork, inspiring others, and making a difference in this community.
These are the ‘Untold Stories of Berks County Artists’.
This project was supported in part by the Pennsylvania Council on the Arts, a state agency funded by the Commonwealth of Pennsylvania and the National Endowment for the Arts, a federal agency. Additional support provided through the Berks Arts Council.
Draws Inspiration From The Stars To Create Connectivism
John Manuel Rodriguez
John Manuel Rodriguez started drawing at 3 ½ years old and coloring and loved it. He pursued painting at 21 years old. His Dad draws and he admires how his Dad can draw something from nothing. John’s uncle is a sculptor, one of the best known artists in Puerto Rico. Acrylic, oil, pastels and portraits are all in John’s toolbox. He likes oil because it’s fun and acrylic because it’s fast. He does a lot of Puerto Rico art which depicts island life and enjoys portrait painting. John says, ͞If you don’t know what you are doing with art, go for it anyway... Make it work! John created connectivism as a sort of social statement. It says something about how we are hyper-connected yet disconnected. He drew inspiration for this from the stars and constellations. John shares a number of stories of inspiration in his life and he shares the story of his real name!Artist Contact InfoJohn Manuel Rodriguez
Christian T. Egbert, also referred to as “Mr. Anomaly” on the internet, is an artist born and raised in Bernville, PA. Christian is an experimentalist when it comes to all artistic mediums. Whatever medium and substrate is handed to him, he has a natural ability to make it work to his advantage. Christian has been creating art since a very young age and despite the continuous discouragement from many nay-sayers, still continues to do so today. Christian has done many commissioned paintings for locals in his area, donated a large scale painting to “The Historic Eagle Hotel” in Bernville, Painted a mural for The Mahoning drive-in theater in Lehighton and has plans to do mural work for the non-profit “The Wellness Center For Pets & Their People inc.”, and also doing art work for “Mario’s pizzeria and restaurant in Bernville. Though providing to the local community is a small portion of his mission, there are much bigger plans involved in what he plans to achieve. Christian has recently been working on building an online store and brand in which he can make his artwork meet the world of production on a large variety of different clothing, original art, apparel, and accessories. During certain events and festivities, Christian goes out of his way to put his beautifully crafted works of art into the hands of people who find intrigue and inspiration through his work. Christian aspires to improve his ability in sales and spends a lot of time researching how to market to people in one of the most difficult categories, Art. Christian is also in the process of writing a book titled “The Emergence of Mr. Anomaly”, which he has been working on over a course of two years, which upon completion, will also be featured in his online store. Accumulating over 22,500 Facebook followers on “The Art of Mr. Anomaly” page from all over the U.S., Christian specifically plans to advertise his online store and products with emphasis on those individuals who he already knows are drawn to his work.
Artist Contact Info
Christian Egbert Mr. Anomaly
Robert "Bob" Seabourne, Landscape Painter
Robert "Bob" Seabourne
Robert went to Kutztown University where he graduated with a Bachelor of Fine Art, Cum Luada. After college, he taught himself Graphic Design so he could make a living, though he never stopped painting. Some of Robert’s early endeavors included wildlife painting in caseins and watercolour and hand-drawn animation. He has taught himself the use of the computer and most of the Adobe programs. As a young man, on two separate occasions Robert had the opportunity to visit Yellowstone National Park, which would serve as a major inspiration for several of his earlier pieces. There he was able to gain invaluable photographic references to some of the most beautiful landscapes ever seen. Some of these have been developed into gorgeous paintings and some are still waiting to be created.Artist Contact InfoRobert "Bob" Seabourne
Sandra Kaye’s creative and artistic talents are so extensive that they excel in more than one medium. Working in glass for 20 years and as a pastel painter for over 30 years. Living and working in Reading,Pennsylvania, Sandra has gained recognition from coast to coast. More than 30 galleries throughout the Unites States including New York, California and Florida represent Sandra Kaye Studios, carrying and selling her latest collections.
Sandra Kaye’s career in glass began in a high end glass blowing and casting production studio. Creating in her private studio since 2002, her expert understanding and control of glass production processes, combined with her polished sense of design and color, enables her to produce functional kiln formed glassware of all kinds.Among the many collections, custom orders and one-of-a-kind functional pieces she creates are: Sushi Trays, Serving Platters and the popular Double Spoon Rest.
Sandra Kaye Functional Art Invites You To Slow Down And Enjoy Moments
Theron Cook - Designer
When your goal is to be part of a movement toward change, inspiration and knowledge, you allow your work to consume you until it is no longer work, but a way of life. An award-winning visual artist, Theron Cook lives by the philosophy, “Art is everything and everything is art.” He attended Hussian School of Art in Philadelphia and completed an internship at VIBE magazine. In addition to his work as a professional painter, Theron is a published author and the founder of Mute Magazine. His work has been on display at a Da Vinci Art Alliance exhibition sponsored by Discovery Channel, and he has been a featured artist at the GoggleWorks. Most recently, Theron had two successful exhibits at Alvernia and Kutztown Universities. Then participated in a pop-art project with ReDesign Reading. Next up, he’ll head out a nationwide tour displaying his Master Collection that coincides with the message in his book, The 7eventh Note The Perception of Life.Artist Contact InfoTheron Cook
Nettie Price is an artist from Reading, PA. A former Math & Science teacher in the Prison & Youth Detention, she started by painting her students as quirky cats and dogs to make her smile. Soon she realized it made others smile too and there began the story of Nettie Price Sparkling Art.
Nettie sold her little block paintings on ebay and in consignment stores in her hometown while teaching. From there she displayed her artwork at shows, both wholesale and retail during the summer months. In 2012 she left teaching to focus on her growing business full time. Currently her artwork & gift items can be found in unique locations throughout the US and abroad.
Happiness Is A Conscious Choice, Nettie Price Chooses Happy Art
Michele Byrne - Plein Air Painting
Michele Byrne is recognized for her figurative plein air work. She lives and works in Reading, Pennsylvania. However, she travels extensively, painting in various locations including, Manhattan, Paris, California, Colorado, Cuba and Key West, Florida. Michele was a Faculty Demonstrator for the Annual Plein Air Convention in Monterey, California in April of 2014. Exhibiting widely, recent and upcoming shows include the American Impressionist Society's National Juried Exhibitions, at Eckert & Ross Fine Art, Indianapolis, Indiana and at the Gingerbread Square Gallery in Key West, Florida.
Byrne has won numerous awards in her plein air and studio work including her most recent People’s Choice Award and Third Place at the Forgotten Coast Quick Draw, and 2nd Prize in the Urban Life Exhibition at the Salmagundi Club in New York in February of 2015. Painting in plein air is not just a passion for Michele it is a dedication. The artist must make decisions about time of day, direction of light and inclusion of figures despite the fact that in front of you everything is changing. These decisions allow the artist to paint dynamically with light and air as a part of the final image.
“Painting plein air allows me to create a more fluid diary of the ever-changing activity of a café or street scene or beach scene.”
Byrne’s work can be found in the permanent collection of the Bennington Museum in Vermont, and the important Mennello Collection in Winterpark, Florida, as well as others. Two books of her paintings are published and she is working on a third book. The titles of the published books are: “The Art of Conversation” with an introduction by Constance Battle MD.; and “The Art of Conversation: Manhattan” with an introduction by Meredith Lewis. Michele has also had her works included in sales at Freeman’s Auction House in Philadelphia and she is a nominated member of the Salmagundi Club in NYC, Oil Painters of America and the American Impressionists Society. Byrne’s work was featured in an eight-page article written by Steve Doherty in the June/July 2013 Issue of PleinAir Magazine.
Roberto Jafet Jaime
My name is Roberto Jafet Jaime born in San Juan P.R. in February of 2000. My parents Roberto and Jasmin Jaime decided to move to the United States in 2003 with me and my 5 brothers for a better future for us. All my life I liked to do art,all types of art. I think I got so attached to art because I have always seen it in my house through my big brother Chris and my mother. In school I always participate in activities that involve art and like that I started enjoying it more and more.
I have worked with various mediums, including cardboard, acrylic paint, watercolor, book art, paper art, and printmaking. For me everything could be used in art. I have already had more than two exhibits,the first one was in the Olivet Boys and Girls Club (Oakbrook) and the second one was in Mi Casa Su Casa cafe. I have had other shows in Studio B in Boyertown and in the Goggleworks in Reading, PA. Thanks to those places, I had the opportunity to show my talent. I have sold 15 to 20 pieces of artwork.
In the future I want to have my own art studio and keep practicing on my art talent to better myself. Art in my life before God and my family. I love what I do and give thanks to everyone that in one way or another have helped me and encouraged me to get further. Every support is important to me because it helps me grow and become stronger in my work. If you wish to see my artwork I have created a Facebook page by the name of JJ art.
Artist Contact Info
Roberto Jafet Jaime
Facebook/Jafet JJ art
Creativity comes from anything and from everywhere!
Juan Carlos Ruiz Jr. - Surrealism Artist
Juan Carlos Ruiz Jr.
Juan Carlos Ruiz Jr, professional artist and graphic designer born & raised in Reading PA. Juan’s work consist of many avenues of art, such as Surrealism, murals, portraiture, graphic novels, illustration, & more. He also teaches art classes at Goggleworks Center for the Arts. His fine art consist primarily of surreal or fantasy art. Juan’s work dwell mostly in surrealism because he feels it is a great way to utilize his imagination and realism to portray real ideas, thoughts, and symbols. The work itself, portrays subject matter that is both light & dark in subject matter and expresses many ideas that are thought provoking to its viewer.
As a kid growing up, he was very much into comic books and graphic novels. In his teenage years, his influences broadened and he grew very interested in different genres, styles, and artistic movements such as: Surrealism, Fantasy Art, Renaissance Art, Science-Fi, Neo Classical, Abstract Expressionism, Realism, and other influences. His work tends to gravitate towards Surrealism, and tend to be inspired to create mostly surreal work with hidden or deep meaning and symbolism.
Juan also works in Realism, creating works of art with a photorealistic look. After graduating high school at Wyomissing Jr. & Sr. High School, he furthered his abilities in the arts and attended Hussian School of Art in Philadelphia. There, Juan developed his talents further and also learned a great deal in the graphic arts & illustration. Throughout his high school & art school experience, Juan has had the privilege in receiving a number of awards for his art. After graduating Hussain, he embarked on establishing himself as a professional artist & designer. Throughout his journey, he has created work for album covers, galleries, public murals, illustration, portraits, live painting, & much more. He also offers art classes in the Goggleworks Center for the Arts.
Artist Contact Info
Juan Carlos Ruiz Jr.
Yenna Hill is a multimedia artist focusing primarily in acrylic paintings and abstract illustration. Since 2008, she has developed a unique style of linework to make her hand recognizable among the masses. She placed second for the Emerging Artist Award at the Centre Park Historic District Arts & Antiques Fair in 2009. Her work has been displayed across the continental U.S. and Hawaii, including two murals in Los Angeles and a public beautification project on a dumpster in Reading, PA.
Yenna finds inspiration in sociology, philosophy, human ethics, and blank space. Using art as a political voice is as important as making lines sing across a page. She seeks to provide beauty where it hasn’t been thought to exist, as well as access to artistic imagination across socioeconomic and cultural borders.
Artist Contact Info
Multimedia artist focusing primarily in acrylic paintings and abstract illustration.
The Story of a self-taught acrylic painter
A native Jamaican, Rohan migrated to the US in 1990 where he resided in Reading before moving to Philadelphia in 1994 to pursue his career as an artist. His work has been featured in various galleries and venues with some donated to charity. Over the years he has found a love for expressing the brilliance and life of color in his work. His favorite medium is acrylic on canvas where he explores various subjects. However he’s also good at watercolor and oils where he’s transitioning to.
He received the A.C.O.R. Gallery artist of the year award in Feb 2014 and was honored in recognition for his work by Reading mayor Vaughn Spencer, Council President Francis Acosta, and State Senator Judith Schwank. Rohan is now working on more prophetic and a series of pieces where he feels his purpose is sending him to. He would like to travel all over the world and spread unity through his work and also help and inspire people. Rohan considers himself to be someone who encourages people. And through his work he demonstrates this. His upcoming work will only get more involved and deeper as he learn more about the common thread which binds all people together and get closer to his God. He also wants to be more diverse to reflect his love of nature, the environment, current events, and curiosities of the unknown.
Artist Contact Info
Tel. (484) 335-0515
Cheryl Elmo is an artist painting with watercolor since 1970. She is an accredited member of the Pennsylvania Watercolor Society and has shown nationally. Cheryl’s watercolors give the medium a new visual quality. She focuses on everyday situations and balances the fluidity of watercolor with suttleness in color changes.
Cheryl’s unique handling of the medium has evolved over the years creating an unusual style reminiscent of the impressionists and influenced by modern day masters. The recurring theme is recognizing beauty that others may pass by without a notice. Each painting has a story. Cheryl is influenced by people, their culture, and the essence of who they are.
Artist Contact Info
The Story of a Water Color Artist