Arts Council joins with HVMA for Come Outside and Play

Photo by Sue Mitrano
Photo by Sue Mitrano

From June 12-14 the Hopewell Valley community was invited to commune with nature and “Get Outside and Play!” Many outdoor activities were offered by over a dozen community organizations, including a summer walk, orienteering, a day on the farm, star gazing, and an outdoor art room, sponsored by the Hopewell Valley Arts Council and partner Art SparksIt was misty, but the rain stayed away for the Outdoor Art Room, held in Pennington’s Kunkel Park. After school that afternoon, students of all ages came to make art with natural objects in a fun outdoor setting.

Places Around Hopewell Valley to Find Artistic Inspiration

Baldpate Mountain

If your best thoughts come to you in the silence and beauty of nature, get your hiking shoes on and head to Baldpate Mountain. Once you hike up to the top you’ll be rewarded with amazing views of Hopewell Valley and the Delaware River!


View from Baldpate Mountain

Washington Crossing Open Air Theater

Many classic plays and muscials have been acted out on this stage including West Side Story, Into the Woods, and Joseph and the Amazing Technicolor Dreamcoat. Get your feet tapping along to the music and your visions flowing as you enjoy the art of theater in a picturesque, outdoor setting.

Open Air Theatre

The Delaware River & Canal

While you’re at Washington Crossing Park, veer off the canal path and head towards the Delaware River. Clear your mind as the water gently laps against the banks. You’re in Titusville, the Hopewell Valley village on the river, one of New Jersey’s best-kept secrets. Here you’ll find a charming row of homes that date back to the mid 1800’s. Some homes feature architecture and design that you don’t see much anymore. If you’re inspired by history you’ll love walking down this River Drive!

Looking out of a Titusville Home towards the Delaware Rier

Pennington Farmers Market

Isn’t the best kind of inspiration the kind you can eat? Any local culinary artist knows how lucky we are to live in the Garden State. At this weekly farmer’s market you can talk with the farmers and artisans, who sell everything from fresh produce to wine. Find out the story behind those tasty tomatoes and sugar-sweet corn. With so much fresh produce at your disposal, there’s no doubt that your dishes will begin to exude creativity!

Mr. Eggplant

Hopewell Valley Art Galleries

Along the main and side streets of Pennington and Hopewell you’ll find a handful of art galleries displaying the works of very talented local artists; don’t be afraid to pop in and speak with them. It’s important to remember that some of the best artists were inspired by the people who came before them. You can get to know some of these artists even better at the “Not Your Everyday Ox” Art Show through June 27th at Capital Health Medical Center – Hopewell.


Did we miss one of your favorite local places to find artistic inspiration? Tell us your story below.

Pennington Day Celebrates Community & The Arts

Pennington Day was a lot more colorful this year thanks to our exhibit in Howe Commons. The HV Arts Council was quite honored (and excited) when it were was asked to help out, and to bring along its growing stampede of beautifully decorated oxen.


On this beautiful Saturday, families from all over Hopewell Valley and beyond came out to meet their friends and neighbors and check out all the talented artists’ work. We dined on delicious food from local purveyors, danced along to the music, and started a new tradition of an artful presence.

Setting off the excitement and splendor of Pennington Day were our 20-foot banners encouraging residents to “celebrate art in the everyday.” Ten artists exhibited their work, many which are also participating in the stampede! Some artists were even working on painting their ox while the event was going on. This gave everyone a chance to meet the people behind the designs, and to see these blossoming works of art up close. How’s that for talent?

The day exuded creativity all over, from the youngest children dressed up in their craziest outfits and the playful face paintings, to lively musical performances, to the showcase of beautiful oxen, paintings, birdhouses, sculptures and quilts.


For more photos from Pennington Day, Click here. Just looking at them will give you reason enough to come out for Pennington Day, 2015!

Supporters Hoofed it to Market to Support the Stampede

The Star-Ledger on March 21, 2014

DSC_1697-dance The Hopewell Valley Arts Council would like to thank the Rothwell family, the staff of Pennington Quality Market, Frank Flegeal and his Hopewell Valley Central High School (CHS) film students and the many performing and culinary artists who lent their time and energy to a celebration of art in the everyday last Saturday at PQM. The festive event introduced Olly the life-size fiberglass ox to many valley residents, and raised more than $6,000 for the arts council’s public art exhibit, the Stampede (“A stampede of creativity headed toward Hopewell — Art-awareness project calling on artists to decorate fiberglass oxen for auction,” Nov. 4, 2013).

Flash mobs sang and danced in the aisles and improvisational dancers roamed the store, while PQM staff demonstrated the culinary arts at sampling stations throughout the market.

Our gratitude to PQM staff who helped us plan and implement the event, the flower shop for Olly’s colorful garland, the market’s chefs who kept shoppers sated and the talents of Con Brio, the Hopewell Valley Chorus, the Hopewell Valley Youth Chorale, JigSaw Dance Company, the Marie Moore School of Irish Dance, Pennington Dance, Wayne Stockton Brown, CHS TV production crew, the Stampede committee, our local artists who volunteered as celebrity baggers, and all the shoppers and residents whose purchases supported the event.

Thanks to the continued support of our businesses, residents, schools and artists, more than 50 decorated fiberglass oxen will roam throughout the valley this summer.

— Betsy Ackerman and Randee Tengi,
Hopewell Township
The writers are co-chairwomen of the Hopewell Valley Arts Council (

Hopewell Valley Arts Council to sell decorated oxen after scattering them in town

DSC_0034-oxBy Michele Angermiller  The Times, Trenton
on March 21, 2014

A “stampede” of fiberglass oxen has been herded into an undisclosed warehouse in Hopewell Township, ready to begin grazing around the area in an effort to draw attention to the arts.

Area artists will transform 55 life-size fiberglass oxen into artistic masterpieces for the Hopewell Valley Stampede art-awareness project. The oxen, which are 8 feet long from tip to tail and weigh 100 pounds, will be decorated by artists and later auctioned off in a fundraiser to benefit the newly formed Hopewell Valley Arts Council.

In April, Capital Health’s Roma Bank Art and Healing Gallery will host a show displaying the oxen designs.

“What we are trying to do is nurture the arts in our local community,” said Carol Lipson, a member of the arts council. “There has always been an emphasis on sports in Hopewell Township, and given how many artists and musicians live in area, we feel it is time to put an emphasis into the arts.”

She added that the “vision” is to build a physical space for the arts council, so artists can have a home to share their creations.

The proceeds of the sales also will fund future projects and events to increase awareness and appreciation of the arts in Hopewell Valley, including the visual, culinary, literary and performing arts. Music festivals centered around the theme will be featured throughout the year, she said.

“There is an opportunity for art in everything we do,” Lipson said.

Hopewell Valley Community Bank, Capital Health, Morehouse Engineering, Betty Wold Johnson, and an “anonymous” donor were joined by 20 additional sponsors who helped fund the project initially, she said.

The arts council worked with Philadelphia-based The Theme Factory to flesh out the original design, created by retired art teacher Linda Bradshaw.

The ox was chosen, Lipson said, as a symbol “to celebrate the farm heritage of the area.”

“Stampede is our first endeavor,” she said of the yearlong celebration, during which the decorated oxen will be displayed throughout the area, including Grounds for Sculpture in Hamilton. The pieces will be auctioned in January.

The Hopewell Valley Stampede was inspired by an exhibit introduced in Zurich, Switzerland. In 1998, more than 800 decorated cows were placed throughout Zurich’s landscape, drawing worldwide attention and attracting thousands of local and foreign visitors.

The Stampede is Gaining Momentum

Hopewell Valley News
Published on Friday, January 17

Submitting_PacketIn September, the Hopewell Valley Arts Council formally launched its first initiative, the Stampede, which will pair artists of all ages and media with local sponsors to produce creatively decorated oxen.

In September, the Hopewell Valley Arts Council formally launched its first initiative, the Stampede, which will pair artists of all ages and media with local sponsors to produce creatively decorated oxen that will roam the Valley in August 2014. The culmination of this effort will be a gala auction in January 2015, where these works of art will be auctioned off in a community celebration of the arts.

Thanks to the generosity of five founding sponsors, Capital Health, Hopewell Valley Community Bank, Morehouse Engineering, Betty Wold Johnson and an anonymous donor, the Arts Council held several events last fall in local homes of interest and business venues, to court sponsors and call the Valley’s artists to the cause.

To date, the Arts Council has enjoyed a tremendous turnout, with over 60 artists registering to participate and with local businesses, organizations, and families committing to sponsor over 50 oxen. A stampede is under way!

The undecorated, “naked” oxen will begin arriving in the Valley next month, with the first oxen being delivered to each Hopewell Valley school, allowing students from elementary through high school to participate in this public arts initiative.

In late spring, the Arts Council will hold an event to team, or “yoke” each sponsor with a local artist. Artists will have through June to complete their work, and in late summer, herds of decorated oxen will roam throughout the Valley.

In March, the Arts Council will collaborate with the larger community to “crowd sponsor” an ox, and the Pennington Quality Market will generously donate a percentage of sales that day to sponsor another. Join the celebration!The mission of the Hopewell Valley Arts Council is to nurture a vibrant and involved local community through the arts. Its goal is to cultivate creative exploration and to showcase the Valley’s artists through events and activities that demonstrate artistic vision in the visual, performing, culinary and literary arts. By defining the arts in the most expansive terms, the Hopewell Valley Arts Council encourages everyone to participate in celebrating art in the everyday.

It’s not too late to participate, as either a Sponsor or an Artist. To learn more, visit

Arts Council to Stampede into Hopewell

By November 15th, 2013

Hopewell Valley Arts Council to make mark on town with decorated oxen

Next fall, Hopewell and Pennington will be invaded by oxen — yarn-covered, painted, and even abstract looking oxen.

The newly-created Hopewell Valley Arts Council is planning a “stampede” as its first major fundraising effort. The plan is to have local artists compete for the chance to decorate large, fiberglass oxen provided by the council.

So where does money come in?

Sponsors will pledge money to have oxen dedicated in their name, along with some influence over the ox’s fate. Many of the oxen will be sold at auction, and the money will go to helping the fledgling arts council off the ground.

Meanwhile, some of the oxen will be permanent fixtures in the neighborhood, the first mark by a new nonprofit group intended as a a resource to connect local artists of all kinds.

It might sound far-fetched as a moneymaking idea. But cities around the world, such as Lambertville and Saratoga Springs, N.Y. have tried the same approach, reportedly with fundraising success.

“Cows have been done, dogs, starfish. You name it they’ve all been done,” said Linda Bradshaw, who is leading the arts aspect of the fundraising effort.

Bradshaw is a retired art teacher who taught for 26 years at Hopewell Elementary, Colgate, and Bear Tavern. She is also a seasoned watercolorist who has found time in retirement to paint every day.

Organizers said the oxen, once they are decorated, will be displayed all over the area, including on Broad Street in Hopewell and on Main Street in Pennington. Some may be clustered in herds, while others will stand alone. Expect to see them anywhere—on the side of the road, in the center of fields, or right in front of town storefronts.

Bradshaw drew the original oxen sketches that later became a sculpture that can be reproduced repeatedly and provided to many different artists. The first sculpture, still undecorated, has been nicknamed Ollie. He was introduced to locals riding on a float in the Hopewell Valley High School homecoming parade on Friday night.

Ollie is a daunting figure, standing at 8 feet long, 5 feet high, and nearly 3 feet wide. He was designed to fit through a doorway, organizers said. Ollie was cast in fiberglass, weighs 75 pounds, and has steel reinforcement in his horns and joints. L-brackets in his feet protrude out, so he can be secured to a base, making it harder to tip him over when sculptures of his likeness are placed all over town.

After Bradshaw sketched the initial oxen design, it was sent to the Theme Factory in Philadelphia, a props shop that specializes in custom processes such as vacu-forming, rotocasting, foam and other resin casting, mold creation, sculpting and woodworking. The shop says it can use virtually any form of material to produce the desired product.

For the stampede project, the Theme Factory constructed a mold out of sheets of foam to create Ollie and the rest of the oxen for the stampede.

The fabricators also drew on photos of real oxen to create Ollie. The sculpture is marked by such details as veins running across Ollie’s musculature to make him look sturdy and true to life. Bradshaw said the oxen design has “spunk.” The ox has a little grin, and a cocked head.

When the member of the arts council met Bruce Konefsky, president of The Theme Factory, they knew it was a match made in heaven. Konefsky has a background perfecting slightly off-beat art assignments.

Konefsky’s parents started the Theme Factory in 1978, providing themed sets for parties held by Fortune 500 companies. For instance, one set has a Philadelphia theme, and includes Betsy Ross’s house and Ben Franklin’s print shop. Konefsky has a long history in theater arts, including set design.

Konefsky may be one the few people in the world who would immediately understand what the ox project is all about. He had worked on similar projects in the past, including the “Miles of Mules” art installations in Bucks County, PA, a nearly identical project except with a different animal.

Konefsky dedicated a solid block of time to creating the ox for the arts council. It was six weeks of carving, prepping, molding, he said. He gave a lot of thought to how to portray an ox and what its most notables features are.

“An ox is a beast of burden. It’s not mean. It’s not whimsical. It has a sense of dignity; it works hard. It’s a statement about labor. The ox continues to work for you day in and day out whenever you need it. So it’s not really frowning; it’s not smiling; it’s not angry or sad. It’s durable, sensible, and, dignified,” he said.

When the stampede of oxen are ready, artists will compete to leave their own mark on the sculptures. They will each receive a $750 stipend for the project. Bradshaw said she expects the designs to run the gamut.

“I hope each participant will create an artful, dynamic oxen. It’s flexible. You can certainly dress him,” she said.

That’s welcome news for a group of knitters that has already said it wants to knit ollie some clothes. The group says it would wrap the yarn around him loosely, so that after some rain fall, the clothing would shrink and the sculpture would be dressed dapperly. The arts council is also open to highly abstract designs from artists who can prove their expertise.

Students will be included in the effort. The arts council is giving each of the schools a chance for students to compete to decorate one of the oxen.

So, why oxen?

It all dates back to a bet on the 1987 Super Bowl between the Broncos and the Giants. The governors of Colorado and New Jersey bet a steak dinner, and Colorado lost.

“Well, after the Giants won, hence the name, the Colorado governor sent a whole steer, fer (sic) goodness sakes. Rather than treat his cronies in the State House to steaks, the New Jersey governor did the right thing and gave him to Howell Farm,” the story goes, as rendered by Howell Living History Farm.

Bradshaw also said the symbolism of the ox made it a good face for this project.

“To the committee, the oxen symbolized a sturdy, steadfast, purposeful life, and we feel very strongly that we want Hopewell Valley Arts Council, and particularly the stampede, to move along that path,” she said.

After the oxen go on display next fall, they may need to undergo some repairs to recover them from any stresses, such as weather, before they are auctioned off. Another potential stress organizers are wary of is vandalism.

“There’s always a concern with outdoor scupture that it will sulfer not only from weather but also the vageries of the town,” Bradshaw said.

So far, the project has firm financial footing, according to Randee Tengee, an organizer. It already has five donors who have pledged $25,000, she said. That includes Capital Health, Hopewell Valley Community Bank, Betty Wold Johnson, Morehouse Engineering, and one anonymous donor.

The Hopewell Valley Arts Council, a brand new organization, says it is dedicated to celebrating art in the everyday.