Sunday, October 19, 2014

New Store Opening: Birchwood and Pine

Birchwood and Pine
by Erica Scheutzow

Akron Empire is happy to welcome back guest blogger Erica Scheutzow who wrote about The White Rabbit and the Pop Up Akron Dinner event last year. When she is not sharing her favorite things about Akron with us, she runs a small business called As I Breathe I Hope, where she handmakes quirky original plush characters made from new and recycled fabrics. Check out AIBIH on Etsy and on Facebook.

You recognize Rachel--she's one of the organizers of Zephyr Mart.
Akron native, Rachel Jernigan, has just launched her new venture, Birchwood and Pine. The store is a wonderfully eclectic vision of mod and shabby chic, tucked away on 6th Street in Canton. The launch party took place on Friday, October 3rd from 7pm-11pm. Guests were treated to drinks and hors d'oeuvres while they explored the new space. My first impression upon entering the shop was that it was so lively. Rachel put so much time and care into creating a unique environment, unlike anything I’ve seen. It’s a mix of vintage and salvaged pieces that create the foundation of the entire store. Refurbished ironing boards as shelves? Yes! Wooden ladders as a clothing rack? Yes! She even had an old school record player spinning sweet vinyl tunes. The tone and energy of the space overall, made me feel inspired and full of wonderment.

From the Grand Opening of Birchwood and Pine, Oct. 3rd

The outpour of love and support from friends, family and fellow artists was prevalent. I left with a happy heart that night knowing that my friend and fellow artist accomplished a long standing goal. I later interviewed Rachel to further my curiosity about the back story of Birchwood and Pine and what’s to come.

What’s the meaning behind “Birchwood and Pine” and how did that name come about?
Rachel: The name Birchwood and Pine comes from the fact that all my art is done on Birch and Pine. I just really like the way it sounds, like it's an intersection.

What motivated you to open your own shop and how did you settle on this location?
Rachel: My main motivation to open a store was initially to have a space where I can sell my work and, when I'm not busy, continue working on projects, without the all the distractions I find at home. The location pretty much fell in my lap after a few months of no one returning my phone calls in surrounding areas. My friend, Mary Elliot owns the salon next door, and she mentioned that the space next to hers was available. I called her that night, met the landlord the next day, and signed a lease the day after that.

LOVE these t-shirts!

A lot of the items in your shop are yours, but you also carry other vendor’s items. What’s the range in product and pricing for your customers?
Rachel: I currently have a lot of my own stuff-tee-shirts, paintings, jewelry, refurbished furnishings.
I also have amazing Jewelry by Stephanie Cole of Sassy Bat Boutique, imported Kimonos and spotless vintage clothing supplied by Mindi Burton of the Sweetest Chill, wooden toy robots by Pat Gerber of the Robot Consortium, and funky chunky knit goods by Tori Todesco of Little Birdie Design Studio. I also have pillows made by Sara Edwards and my men's vintage is supplied by Zach Hudson. Pricing ranges between $2 and $200. People looking to buy a piece of art or shop for smaller gift items should both be happy in my store.

Grand Opening party

Are you looking for more vendors? If so, do you offer wholesale, consignment or both?
Rachel: I will always be looking for vendors. My main concern is that I would prefer to be inclusive, rather than exclusive, meaning the idea of rejecting someone is not something I look forward to. I meet a lot of artists at shows and craft fairs, and for now I would prefer to invite people to sell in my space, rather than have an application process. At this moment, I have already purchased quite a few products wholesale, but I do have a few consignors

What's your vision for the future of Birchwood and Pine?
Rachel: My ultimate goal for the store is to provide other artists and makers of the unique, a venue to sell their work outright to me as the owner, instead of having to do consignment. Consignment is a great, risk free way to fill a space with inventory, but I feel like it often leaves artists feeling undervalued. If I feel confident in someone's work or product, I want them to be able to make a living producing quality work. I will eventually offer online sales as well, but for now I'm concentrating on the physical shop. I think people may be itching to go back toward going into a place and getting an overall sense of a style or mode.

To find out more about Birchwood and Pine please contact Rachel with the information provided (below.) Rachel would also like to extend an invitation to her Halloween Party at the Birchwood and Pine location on Thursday October 30th from 6pm-9pm!

Rachel Lynn Jernigan
Birchwood & Pine:
602 6th St NW, Canton, Ohio
Store Hours: Tues-Fri 11am-8pm, Sat. Noon-8pm, Sun. Noon to 5. Open until 9 on First Fridays.

Tuesday, October 14, 2014

Transitions at Summit Artspace Gallery

A New Exhibit: Transitions at Summit Artspace Gallery
from the press release by Rob Lehr, Gallery Director at Summit Artspace

TRANSITIONS, an exciting new exhibit at Summit Artspace Gallery, examines transformation and change from two captivating points of view. This exhibit features artwork by young contemporary artists, Allison Elia and Eli Donahue.  TRANSITIONS will have an opening reception on October 17, 2014 from 5pm-8pm.

Allison Elia describes her large figurative ceramic installations as “sculptural snapshots” that capture a single climactic moment before it naturally transitions and fades into memory.  She sculpts her figures large-scale in clay, building them solid on armatures, then cutting and hollowing them for firing. Allison received her MFA in ceramics from the University of Massachusetts, Dartmouth in 2013 and her BFA in painting and ceramics from the Myers School of Art at the University of Akron in 2008.

Taking an abstract approach to transformation, Eli Donahue creates delicate backlit paintings, which examine the shifts between light/dark, structural/ethereal and flatness/dimension. His inspiration began with the concept of baptism and its influence on an individual’s changing of identity. Eli looks at light as a subject, which can illuminate or manipulate how we see structure in the world around us. Eli earned a BFA in painting and drawing from the Myers School of Art at the University of Akron in 2013.

In conjunction with the TRANSITIONS exhibit, Summit Artspace is honored to host two Art Talks by professionals who facilitate change in the Akron community:

The Evolution of the Akron Art Museum
Carol Murphy, Chief of External Affairs of the Akron Art Museum, will present the history and evolution of Akron's contemporary museum. Learn about the origins of the institution and the planning required to build the John S. and James L. Knight Building in 2007. The lecture is Thursday, October 23, 2014 at 7pm and free to the public.

Coping with Change: Art as Therapy
Join Zara Geiger, a registered art therapist, to explore the world of art as therapy. Zara works with clients everyday who are coping with recovery in their lives. Learn about this fascinating profession as she explains the history of art therapy and its importance in recovery today. The lecture is Thursday, November 6, 2014 at 7pm and free to the public.

The TRANSITIONS exhibit is on display October 17 – November 15, 2014.  The show has been curated by Summit Artspace Gallery Director, Rob Lehr. Summit Artspace is located in the historic Akron Beacon building at 140 E. Market St., one block east of the Akron Art Museum.  

For more information about art happenings around Akron, visit Rob's website:

Thursday, October 2, 2014

Akron Empire Favorites: Favorite Group or Organization

Akron Empire Favorites 2014: Favorite Group or Organization
by Brit Charek

We asked our readers to tell us their favorite things to do in the Empire, and you responded with amazing ideas-- some of our own old favorites, and some things new to us that we're excited to check out!

We've been rolling out the winners one category a week-- Click HERE to see the categories we've already covered.

This week, we're announcing your Favorite Group or Organization!

Sorry, guys. DDPP (short for Dance Dance Party Party) is a girls only club. I love DDPP so much that it was one of my very first blog posts when we launched Akron Empire back in 2012! Click HERE to see that post again.

DDPP is still going strong! They meet on the first, third and fifth Fridays of each month at the Martel School of Dance in Highland Square. It's an awesome way to get a fun workout, as long as you follow the three simple rules: No booze, no boys, and no judgement.

For more information, check out their website or find them on Facebook!

2. Countryside Conservancy
The mission of Countryside Convervancy is to "to connect people, food, and land by increasing public awareness of how food and farming impact personal, community, and environmental health, and by inspiring personal commitment to building a resilient, sustainable food culture."

A few summers ago I wrote about CC's monthly Food Swap (click HERE to see that post again!), which is still going strong!

Outside of food swapping, CC does a variety of other things. They run the Farmers' Markets at Howe Meadow and Highland Square, and even a winter market indoors at Old Trail School.

They also host a serious of classes, adorably dubbed Countryside U, where you can learn about anything from how to raise backyard chickens to how to make homemade cheese and bread!

For more information, check out their website.

3. Torchbearers
Torchbearers is a collaboration of Leadership Akron, focused on strengthening the connection between area non-profit organizations and young professionals in the city. One of their many goals is to attract and retain young people in Greater Akron.

They have a variety of different programs that young people can apply for, from Big Brothers and Big Sisters to Intern placements. It's an amazing opportunity for area young professionals-- not just for the volunteer experience, but for the friendships forged along the way!

To learn more about Torchbearers, visit their website.

Honorable Mention: Akron Film & Pixel
We couldn't be more proud of our friends over at Akron Film & Pixel. This has been a big year for them!

Back in July, they opened The Nightlight, Akron's first and only indie movie theater, with help from a grant from the Knight Foundation and a successful crowd sourcing campaign on Kickstarter. Joanna wrote about the theater back when they were about to open. Click HERE to see that post again!

AF&P still holds events and screens films at the Akron Art Museum, but their new space offers an experience every Akronite should seek out! You'd probably pass up The Nightlight if you weren't intentionally looking for it-- it's a 50-seat theater tucked neatly away among the city's storefronts on North High Street, just north of Market.

Inside, you have the opportunity not just to see exclusive indie films, but also to eat locally sourced snacks (and thankfully they consider Jeni's ice cream local enough!), choose from a fine selection of beers brewed within the city limits, or indulge on a film-themed cocktail from the bar. (If you happen to be going this weekend, you absolutely must try the Tigermilk, a delicious dessert-like cocktail which is a reference to an album made by the director of God Help The Girl's band, Belle & Sebastian.)

To see what's playing, check out their website.

Stay tuned next week to see more of your #AEfaves2014!

Monday, September 22, 2014

Akron Empire Favorites: Favorite Parks

Akron Empire Favorites 2014: Favorite Parks
by Joanna Wilson

We are rolling out the results of our poll each week through the rest of the Fall.  Thanks so much to everyone who shared their voices in selecting our favorite things in Akron.  To see the results of all the voting so far, be sure to click on the Akron Empire Favorites badge on the right hand side.

The winner for Favorite Park comes as no surprise.  1. Sand Run Metro Park

Located along Merriman Valley, Sand Run is one of the outstanding gems within the Metro Parks system.  Not only do visitors enjoy the Parkway Jogging Trail but Sand Run also offers several more rustic and challenging hiking trails.  It is also a popular destination because of the shelters, the soccer fields, ice skating, and my favorite, the drivable water crossing (ford).  Because of its wetlands, Sand Run also offers curious animals lovers the unique opportunity to witness the springtime salamander crossing.  Wouldn't THAT make a great post for Akron Empire in the future?

North Hill's Waters Park

Voters created a four-way tie for second place.  2. Canal Park, Cascade Valley Metro Park, Cuyahoga Valley National Park, and Waters Park.

We recently featured guest blogger Jenny Jones who shared her 5 Great Hikes in the Akron Area which included several in the nearby Cuyahoga Valley National Park.  Our own Brit Charek wrote about her experiences at Canal Park two years ago (before they changed their team name to the Rubber Ducks).  But it's the same ball park and the same fun location for Akron residents to enjoy.  It's also great to see not just the Metro Parks appreciated in our Favorites poll but also a city park, namely Waters Park, which is located across from St. Thomas Hospital in North Hill.  Not only does Waters Park have public shuffleboard and tennis courts, but the top corner of the park offers some stunning views over the valley of downtown Akron!  Another reason Waters Park is an Akron Empire Favorite.

Thanks again to everyone who voted! Check back next week as we reveal more of your favorites.


Friday, September 19, 2014

Akron Empire Favorites: Favorite Annual Event

Akron Empire Favorites: Favorite Annual Event
by Brit Charek

We asked our readers to tell us their favorite things to do in the Empire, and you responded with amazing ideas-- some of our own old favorites, and some things new to us that we're excited to check out! This is the second post in the series. We started last week with your Favorite Thing to do in the Summer-- click HERE to see that post again.

This week, we're revealing your Favorite Annual Event!

1. Porch Rokr

A free festival will feature more than 80 bands, no-cost workshops, dramatic performances, food and art vendors and activities for children? Sign me up!

The Highland Square Neighborhood Association, a community focused organization, is hosting the 2014 PorchRokr Festival which is tomorrow, Saturday, September 20th from 10am to 8pm. Opening Ceremonies begin at 10:30 with a parade, a performance by the PorchRokr
Performers will be hosted on stages and porches across several streets, including Belvidere Way, Beck Avenue, Byers Avenue, Dodge Avenue, Grand Avenue, S. Portage Path, Crosby Street, Westmoreland Terrace, Payne Avenue, West Market Street and at Perkins Stone Mansion.

For more info, check out HSNA's website. Make sure you stop by the mini-Crafty Mart pop up shop on Byers!

2. Hamburger Festival

This year marked the 7th anniversary of the National Hamburger Festival. Over 120,000 hamburger fans have enjoyed family fun, great entertainment and one of the largest assortments of hamburgers ever assembled in one place.

The festival is held at historic Lock 3 Park in beautiful downtown Akron in August and raises money each year for one of Akron’s favorite charities, the Akron Children’s Hospital.

For more info, and to make sure you don't miss out next summer, visit the National Hamburger Festival's website!

3. The Akron Arts Expo at Hardesty Park

The Akron Arts Expo at Hardesty Park has been running strong every summer for 35 years now! This free outdoor festival features over 160 fine art and craft vendors. 

The weekend kicks off with the Taste of Akron food sampling from area restaurants on Thursday evening. On Friday evening we host our premier Wine Tasting and Silent Auction fundraiser. The fest often includes contests, like the steak cook-off sponsored by West Point Market. I wrote about that a few years back when my dad was competing! Click HERE to see that post again.

Check out their website for more details.

Honorable Mentions: Squarefest, Crafty Mart, the Akron Marathon

Thanks again to everyone who voted! Check back next week as we reveal more of your favorites!

Monday, September 15, 2014

Portage Trail Barn: 5 Steps from Thrift Store to Fashion

The 5 Steps from Thrift Store to Fashion
by Mary Beth Filion

Hello!  I'm Mary Beth and I'm the owner of Portage Trail Barn in Cuyahoga Falls.  The Barn is a seasonal shop open a few weekends each year. It features local vendors of handmade and repurposed goods.  I'm not only the owner, but a crafter too and I love to work with repurposed materials.  I'll shop garage and estate sales, auctions, and thrift stores. Using repurposed materials is so easy!  Today I'm going to share the 5 steps I take to go from thrift store to finished item. 

1. Gather ideas. 
This is my favorite part.  I’m on Pinterest everyday.  I have over 3,000 pins and counting.  Having a visual way to organize ideas is the best. I have boards by season or product line.  I also look at manufactured items and devise a way to use thrifted materials in the reproduction.  

2. Be familiar with your local shops.  This will help you decide where to go for what you want.

Goodwill on State Road is good for books, small furniture, and sundries (you never know what you’ll find).
Salvation Army in Montrose is good for large furniture and I love the way they display home goods by color.  All thrift stores should do that.  It makes it so much fun to shop.  

Salvation Army in Montrose

Village Discount Outlet on State Road is great for clothing.  This is where I picked up some great belts all at half price or lower!

Village Discount Outlet on State Road in Cuyahoga Falls

3. Know how much you’d be willing to pay.  This comes with time and research.  I always keep in mind that on discount days I could be getting it for as low as $0.50!  That makes that belt for $6.00 seem overpriced and I’m likely to pass it by.

Know your Discount codes!

4. Don’t be afraid to buy and try.  
The beauty of buying thrifted goods at a low cost is you can be brave about your trial and error process.

5.  Proudly display your handmade goods…and let the compliments stream in.  Take note of what materials you enjoyed working with. Each time you hit the thrift store keep an eye out for something to add to your stash.  

Leather belt ring

These leather belt rings will be available at the Fall Barn Sale, as well as more of my repurposed goods.  Come see us opening night form 3-8p September 18, 10a-4p Saturday and Sunday.  Also the second weekend Thursday September 20 from 3-8p and Saturday and Sunday from 10a-4p.

For information on seasonal sales check out the website.  
To get a peek behind the scenes find me on Instagram.  
And to see what inspires me follow me on Pinterest.  

Friday, September 12, 2014

Akron Empire Favorites: Favorite Thing to do in the Summer

Akron Empire Favorites: Favorite Thing to do in the Summer
by Brit Charek

We asked our readers to tell us their favorite things to do in the Empire, and you responded with amazing ideas-- some of our own old favorites, and some things new to us that we're excited to check out! We'll be rolling out the winners over the next few weeks, starting with your Favorite Thing to do in the Summer!

1. Riding Bikes in the Park
Some readers like riding in the metroparks, and some specifically recommended the Cuyahoga Valley National Park. A while back, Joanna wrote about How We Roll UA, a program that offers free bike tours through downtown. Click HERE to check out that post again.

Similarly, guest blogger Jenny recently wrote about her top 5 places to hike in the greater Akron area. Click HERE to check out that post again

2. Going to an Akron Rubber Ducks Game
A few summers ago, I wrote about going to a game when they were still the Akron Aeros (Click HERE to see that post again.) I've been several times since the team rebranded to the Rubber Ducks, and it's one of my favorite family activities in the summer! With all the cool promotions, from giving out free Akron rockstar bobbleheads to Thirsty Thursday featuring dollar draft beers, the Rubber Ducks have something for everyone.

One of my favorite parts of seeing the Rubber Ducks is eating at the Game Bar & Grille!
For tickets and more info, visit the Akron Rubber Ducks' official website.

3. Downtown@Dusk at the Akron Art Museum

Did you know that the Akron Art Museum is free every Thursday? To top it off, on Thursday evenings the Museum hosts live concerts in their parking lot!

Even though summer is coming to a close, the Art Museum is still free on Thursday, and they still have some amazing events lined up on Thursday evenings. During the day they host family-oriented workshops and in the evening they line up more grown up events, like free films organized by Akron Film & Pixel or their  innovative speaker series called Slide Jam. 

For more info, visit the Akron Art Museum's website.

Thanks again to everyone who voted! Check back next week as we reveal more of your favorites!