Art photography

Phillips’ Mill’s unique community association offers art, photography and theater programs

ART PLUS HISTORY: The Phillips Mill, shown here, is a lot to a lot of people. An important cornerstone in New Hope, it was once an 18th century flour mill. Today it is a unique center for visual and performing arts, welcoming artists, photographers, playwrights, actors and art lovers from all over the region. Its long history, showcasing important talent, draws countless visitors to its annual exhibitions and performances. It will be holding its “92nd Juried Art Show“, which will open on September 25, showcasing the work of prominent artists from the region.

By Jean Stratton

Hhistory and art meet at the Phillips’ Mill in New Hope, Pennsylvania. Located at 2619 River Road, it was originally a flour mill in the 18th century, when farmers brought in their grain to be made into flour.

Today, it is known for presenting one of the region’s most prestigious art exhibitions, attracting top talent and serious art collectors.

Considered the birthplace of Pennsylvania Impressionism, the mill is home to its famous “jury art exhibit,” which first took place in 1929, says Laura Womack, vice-chairman of the board of directors of the Phillips’ Mill Community Association and Chair of the Arts Committee.

As stated in the Phillips’ Mill Association special book, Celebrate 75 years of art, “Among the founders were the now legendary rulers of the arts colony of Pennsylvania, centered in New Hope in the early 20th century. Initially, they included Edward Redfield, William Langston Lathrop and David Garber.

Respected artists

They were prominent and nationally respected artists, working in the tradition of the landscape, and they were drawn to the natural beauty of the New Hope area, adds Reni Fetterolf, longtime Phillips’ member. Mill Community Association and historian. A number of the early participants were also women, including artists such as Mr. Elizabeth Pierce, Mary Smyth Perkins and Fern Coppedge.

As the book continues, “their importance attracted other artists to the area to study and work with them. As more and more artists joined the colony, William Lathrop brought them and their families together in a social circle to share ideas about art. Events were held at the Lathrop House, and these gatherings were the precursors of the committees of the eventual Phillips’ Mill Community Association.

“The Association is a non-profit organization dedicated to promoting the arts and preserving the artistic and cultural heritage of the Bucks County area,” explains Reni Fetterolf. “As a non-profit organization, it is supported by members, patrons and benefactors. In addition, the sale of art is another means of support.

The purchase of the Phillips’ Mill in 1929 provided significant local exhibition space and a new venue for more social events through membership in the organization.

The mill’s history dates back to pre-revolution America, and one of the association’s goals was to preserve the mill as a historical landmark. “Operating before and during the American Revolution, the mill was a constant ‘forum’. There was a lot to talk about, besides the exchange of local news and gossip, while waiting for water or flour, ”reports a first publication.

The fact that it has become such an important symbol of art reinforces the importance of history and art as mixed cultural resources.

Historical connection

Terri Epstein, member of the association’s board of directors and member of the artistic committee, underlines this historic link. “I am fascinated by the historical importance of the Mill, that so many important artists have set foot on the floors, inhaling the autumn air that blew through the doors and windows of this very structure. I walk in and feel the ghosts of all this creativity swirling around me. It makes me smile every time.

She adds that prior to moving to Bucks County, she resided in Pennington and had visited the Phillips’ Mill art exhibit several times. “It’s definitely an event that draws people from all over the greater Princeton area.”

“Without the Phillips’ Mill, there would be no focus on art here,” emphasizes Fetterolf. “The shows with a jury have been very important in creating enthusiasm and energy. “

Although particularly known for Pennsylvania Impressionism, The Mill’s artistic focus has featured all types of art from the early days of the show, including Impressionism, Figurative, Realist, Modern, and Contemporary. , among other genres.

The show attracts the best work of hundreds of artists living within a 25 mile radius of the Mill. Over 1,000 people visit the exhibition each year, and all the art is for sale – oils, watercolors, mixed media, pastels and drawings, as well as sculpture. In addition to framed art, there is a portfolio of unframed art, including drawings and paintings.

This year, the exhibition will feature the creations of more than 200 artists in three categories: framed works, sculpture and unframed portfolio pieces. The work to be included is selected by a jury, which then judges the pieces for the prizes. This year, prizes will be awarded to 16 artists.

Something to buy

Planning the show involves months of preparation, says Womack, “It really takes nine months. We start in June. The best performers want to be in the show, but they all have to be selected. The public will know that these artists have been vetted by experts. Plus, people who want to come to the show know that there will be something they want to buy.

Many established artists have participated in the exhibition more than once, and the art committee is also always on the lookout for emerging artists and new talent, Fetterolf emphasizes.

People of all ages come to see art, including families, she adds. “It can be a really nice outing for people, with a visit to New Hope and this very scenic area. Lots of people can’t wait to come every year.

In addition to the annual Juried Art Show, Phillips’ Mill offers several other programs: a photo exhibition, theatrical productions, the youth art exhibition and the Emerging Playwrights Competition.

The drama program features three plays, musicals and dramas, during the year, and interest in photography has become an increasingly important focus over the years.

There is even more enthusiasm for the art exhibition this year, as it will once again take place on site, in person. Last year it was only available online due to the pandemic.

World of possibilities

“We had to be very innovative, mixing new technology with the traditional show,” Womack reports. “We were able to do this without losing the personality of our story as we embrace the new communication. “

She adds that in difficult times people need the arts even more, and thanks to Phillips’ Mill, a sense of community and belonging has been strengthened. “We quickly found that we could reach more people when we started sharing stories and artwork online. This opens up a world of possibilities and has motivated us to launch new programs and expand our reach on wonderful platforms we never even knew existed.

While many will be keen to visit the show in person this year, an online viewing will also be available.

Association members are excited about the new show and what it means to artists, collectors and the community at large.

“Art is so important. It is such a signature in this area, ”emphasizes Womack. “We are very happy to be able to do this. I like working with the people of the Moulin and the artists. Everyone here loves art and is so attached to it.

Fetterrolf adds: “I can’t wait to see everyone here, artists and people who fall in love with art and the environment when they come here. Think about it, the transformation of space. Look at this room. Now it’s just an ordinary room. But when the art is there and the paintings are hung on the walls, it’s like magic!

The show will take place from September 25 to October 31, every day from 1 p.m. to 5 p.m. An entrance fee of $ 5 is charged for adults, with discounts for seniors and students.

For more information, call (215) 862-0582. Website:

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