Exploring “Art in the Everyday”

Vision is the art of seeing what is invisible to others. – Jonathan Swift

James Baxter, “Roots”

The Hopewell Valley Arts Council cultivates all types of creative exploration and artistic expression and celebrates “art in the everyday” … but what does that mean?

It is about opening one’s eyes to the simple, beautiful, seemingly mundane parts of our lives. It lies in shadows, reflections, footprints, found objects or trash, on store shelves, and even in our garages.

It is also the art of everyday activities, items, and relationships — a child’s poem/art, stacked wood, homemade cards, and baked goods. It lies in an organized spice rack or a pile of worn sneakers tossed by the door.

To celebrate viewing the world with this new lens, we’re inviting the community to participate with us. Starting in June, we’ll be posting photos submitted by the community and hope you’ll join us by tagging your inspired images with #hvartintheeveryday on Facebook and Instagram. Don’t enjoy tagging? Email our us at info@hvartscouncil.org.

Please help us discover all the endless possibilities and celebrate art in the everyday!

Celebrating the Culinary Arts: Edible Art

October is Art Month at thePennington Farmers Market. On October 11, show your love of the culinary arts by entering the Arts Council’s “art in the everyday bake-off” featuring the bounty of our local fall produce. Or, visit the Arts Council tent and try your hand at making a beautiful artistic creation of fruits, vegetables, and flowers.


This time of year the local farmer’s markets are brimming with colorful, flavorful produce including apples, beets, corn, tomatoes, squash and pumpkins. They can all be turned into beautiful creations that are fun to eat! Here is some inspiration from around the web for edible art that you can try at home.

Pantone Rainbow Tarts


Where would we be without Pantone’s library of beautiful color? Make your own edible color chips out of food, like this recipe for passionfruit cheesecake.

25 Adorable Food Animals


If your mother ever told you not to play with your food, we’re hoping you’ll break the rules this one time. Haven’t you always wanted to make a poodle out of your cauliflower? And you’re in luck – October and November are the months for cauliflower; you’ll find it at your local New Jersey farmers market.

Breakfast Art


Use a piece of toast as your canvas like these creative people did to recreate famous works of art.

Food Turned Paint


If you’re out of watercolors, color rich foods like blackberries, beets (at the farmers market all season long), and spices like turmeric can be just as beautiful. Click the link above for a tutorial.

Top 10 Reasons to Own an Ox


How would you like to own one of the creatively decorated Stampede oxen? Now you can! While most of the oxen have been sold and are with their new wranglers, eleven ‘oxceptional’ oxen will be sold at a live auction happening at The Year of the Ox Gala on January 24, 2015 at Grounds for Sculpture. Proceeds from the sale of  all the oxen will go to the further development of the Hopewell Valley Arts Council and ongoing programming efforts fostering the mission of celebrating art in the everyday.

If supporting the Hopewell Valley Arts Council isn’t a good enough reason in itself to bid on an ox, here are the top 10 reasons we came up 😉 Can you think of any others to add?

10. To start a farm of life-size fiberglass art animals

9. To brighten things up when the trees lose their leaves

8. Because your parents wouldn’t let you get a pony

7. To mooo-ve and impress your art collecting friends and family

6. To make your holiday card the talk of the town (Olly loves being photographed)

5. To give your children a good hiding place during hide & seek

4. To scare off the deer

3. Because the jungle gym is getting boring

2. To decorate your septic mound

1. To support the Hopewell Valley Arts Council


Why An Ox?



When you drive by the beautifully designed oxen around town, you might wonder why we chose an ox. The ox is actually a very significant animal to Mercer County and Hopewell Valley! Olly, as we have so affectionately named him, is an icon of the Valley’s agricultural heritage. With a team of oxen still plowing the fields at Howell Living History Farm, the ox symbolizes strength and teamwork. And a lot of teamwork is what it took to bring the Stampede to life: a team full of talented artists and community volunteers has joined together for the collective good of Hopewell Valley. In fact, this Saturday, at the Howell Living History Farm’s annual plowing contest, you can see the oxen in action, working as they did a hundred years ago!

And here’s a fun little anecdote about how one special ox made its way to Hopewell Township, NJ:

“A few days after the New York Giants beat the Denver Broncos 39-20 in Super Bowl XXI, the Mercer County Park Commission became the owner of a 1,200-pound Angus steer that then-Gov. Tom Kean won in a nationally publicized bet with Colorado Gov. Roy Romer.

The Colorado cowboys who delivered the steer to Mercer County’s Howell Living History Farm were dubious over the plan to use him for educational purposes instead of meat. He was ornery, they said. And aggressive. The big orange tag in his ear marking him ‘1’ was not just a symbol of Broncos’ colors and pride; it was the number he got for being the first out of the feedlot — and into the chute to the slaughterhouse. The Pride of Colorado, as they called him, was, after all, grade-A Angus steak, not the kind of beef that sturdy oxen are made of

Renamed ‘The Jersey Giant’ and trained to pull plows and wagons like the farm’s other oxen and horses, Giant was so easygoing before an audience that he was drafted that October to help Gov. Kean break ground for the New Jersey Museum of Agriculture in New Brunswick. In the decade that followed, he made guest appearances at fairs and festivals statewide, including one in Trenton, where, with his teammate Lyon, he helped plow an abandoned lot for use in a novel ‘city greening’ program that today has more than 35 gardens.” – Pete Watson in Remembering ‘The Jersey Giant,’ the 1,200-pound Angus steer won in Super Bowl XXI bet

We bring this up in time for Howell Living History Farm’s plowing match THIS Saturday, August 30th. Visit the farm to watch old-fashioned plowing and log-pulling competitions amongst horses and oxen. Bring your family out to see the oxen that inspired the Hopewell Valley Arts Council Stampede, and the Stampede ox “Local History – Global Impact”! In addition to farm animal fun, there will be barbecuing, live music, crafts and pony rides for children.

Hopewell Valley Children’s Theatre presents its 17th Summer Season….Disney’s Peter Pan, Jr. and The Wiz!!!

Fly with HVCT to Neverland with Peter Pan, Tinker Bell and his friends,  as they proudly presents Disney’s Peter Pan, Jr! Mark your summer calendar now for one of the two performance dates…an evening performance on Friday, August 1, 2014 at 7pm and a matinee performance on Saturday, August 2, 2014 at 2pm! “You Can Fly”, “Never Smile at A Crocodile”, and “What Makes the Brave Man Brave” are just a few of the many memorable tunes from this classic Disney piece.  HVCT’s production of Disney’s Peter Pan, Jr. brings together area students from a variety of towns and elementary schools including, Ben Franklin, Bear Tavern, Toll Gate, Hopewell Elementary, Stony Brook, Lore, Community Park, Littlebrook, West Amwell, Antheil Elementary, and also some home schooled students!


And be sure to follow the yellow brick road to Oz with HVCT’s own version of The Wiz, which will be performed on Thursday, July 31, 2014 at 7pm and Saturday, August 2, 2014. HVCT will rock the house with this upbeat, inspirational musical, which boasts broadway hits “Ease on Down the Road” and “Home”.  The Wiz stars students from Middle and High School students from Stuart Country Day School, Hopewell Valley Central High School, Timberlane Middle School, The Waldorf School, The Hun School, The Pennington School, The Wilberforce School, Montgomery High School, Pennsbury High School, Princeton Friends School, Hunterdon Central High School, John Witherspoon Middle School


And of course don’t forget to stay to experience HVCT’s signature ending…what they lovingly call the “Wow Bow”…a bonus feature of a fun mix of music tied to the theme of the show and starring the entire cast…sure to get everyone moving!  What’s the Wow Bow this year?  It’s always a secret – you will have to come and see!!

The HVCT creative staff behind this summer production includes Producer/Director –  Cathy Sing, Music Director –  Bernadette Furlong, Vocal/Costume Director –  Vicki Krampf,  Choreographer – Jessica Furlong, Administrative Director/Artistic Consultant –  Moira Sandford, Production Coordinator/Extended Day Program – Ryan Smith, and Technical Staff and Intern Crew –  Claire Begrowicz, Jessica Bezek, Malcolm Bornmann, Katy Chapman, Lewis Chapman, Cam Filepas, Zac Fletcher, Elanor Gross, Callie Holtermann, Juliana Krampf, Maeve Merzena, Abel Mesretab, Dominique Ryalls, Brian Sandford, Lindsay Sanford, Morgan Schragger, Emily Sing, Jillian Sing, Chris Walton and Katie Weinstein.  HVCT is proud to be supported by a huge network of parents, grandparents, and community members who volunteer their time and energy to supporting the organization to assist in the numerous tasks involved in making HVCT happen.  HVCT is also thankful to the HVRSD school district, who have supported their efforts to enrich the community and given us a home since 1998.

Celebrating its 17th summer season, Hopewell Valley Children’s Theatre is a non-profit arts education program, endorsed by the NJ Council of the Arts and serving the Hopewell Valley Community since 1998.  HVCT’s mission, to enrich and enhance the self-esteem and talents of local students through performing arts, has been the driving force for the program’s expansion to year round performing arts experiences.  HVCT has always been “For Kids…By Kids”…keeping the students’ talents and need for growth and self esteem at the forefront of the organization’s mindset.  Students are involved in every facet of the production…onstage and off…through hands-on learning environment.

All performances will be at the Performing Arts Center at Hopewell Valley….located on the Hopewell Valley Central High School campus right off Route 31…at 259 Pennington-Titusville Road, Pennington NJ.  Tickets are $12 Adults, $8 Students/SeniorCitizens/Teachers and are on sale now.   Reserved seating is available for purchase online through HVCT’s website, WWW.HVCT.ORG orWWW.SHOWTIX4U.COM. General Admission seating will be available at the theater box office 1 hour prior to the performances.  For group sales of 20 or more discounts are available… please email hvct.info@gmail.com.   For information about HVCT and upcoming programs, including fall/winter elementary school program, Disney’s The Aristocats, Kids, visit the website, www.hvct.org or call (609) 649-3042.


Tips for Getting Artsy in your Garden

For many people, their backyard is their haven. It’s a place to unwind after a long day, or to play with the children. Creating a garden and landscape that is both aesthetically pleasing and easy to maintain is no easy feat. In fact, some may say it’s an art in itself. But once you achieve a flow of plants and flowers that works well for your property, there are projects you can take on to elevate the artistic appeal. These projects are here to inspire you! Let your imagination run wild within your own creative ability.

Almost anything can be turned into a planter. Vintage wagons, a bike with a basket, canoes, old toy trucks, SHOES, even little teacups.


10 DIY Inspiring Garden Pots

Top 30 Stunning Low-Budget DIY Garden Pots

And you can get really creative with your own birdbath and feeder. Here are some of our favorites from recycled materials or items you may already have around your home.


DIY Garden Planter & Bird Bath

DIY Birdbath from 2 Urns

DIY Lamp Birdbath

When you add something other than flowers to your garden, it automatically draws your eye to it. So try adding colorful accents in different textures, like glass, medal, beads, or shells.


DIY Garden License Plate Dragonfly

Mosaic Stepping Stone DIY

Upcycled Bicycle Wind Chimes


For all your gardening and landscape needs, be sure to look to Arts Council Stampede Sponsor, Rosedale Mills, and other Hopewell Valley nurseries like Stony Brook Gardens.

How to Become a Culinary Connoisseur In Just One Summer

Chef Will!At the Hopewell Valley Arts Council, we believe art presents itself in many ways everyday, with the culinary arts being one of them! Have you ever wished that you could cook your own beautiful meals, like the ones you see at local restaurants like Brother’s Moon in Hopewell Borough? We got the dish first hand from chef William Mooney, who has provided us with some advice for mastering the culinary arts.

But first, it’s important to understand why cooking is an art. William explains that the preparation and cooking of food is perceived by all of the senses. It is smelled, seen, tasted, felt (texture) and heard. Prepping and cooking is a craft. And it is the eating, which brings up feelings within us – happiness, anger, joy, sadness, etc. – that is the art. Food encompasses many things; food is nature, food is beauty, and food is love.

And if you get started with these suggestions from William today, you may even become a culinary connoisseur by fall!

1. Build the understanding of what it takes to procure and produce the foods.

William notes that talking to the experts is a must. Farm markets are a great source for seasonal foods, and we have plenty here in Hopewell Valley. Talk to farmers about what they grow and why. Talk to chefs about how they cook what they cook. Remember, most farmers are not cooks and most cooks and not farmers!Speak with the shop owners of spice stores, olive oil stores, and specialty food shops. People who work at smaller businesses are typically more helpful when it comes to teaching others about products and ingredients.

2. Learn the techniques and methods of cooking and kitchen working.

Here’s some appetizing news: the best way to learn the culinary arts is to cook and eat! Take some cooking classes and speak with the instructors. Some folks learn by eating, some can only learn by doing. And while you’re there, focus on learning the techniques, not the fads. William (who teaches cooking classes! find out more here) likes to teach knife skills early, and then the use of heat and cold, moving on to cooking and then seasoning. Timing is something that comes with experience.

As in any field of art, much work and study is required to become a good cook. Did you know that many of the techniques, methods, and tools used in the fine arts are required in cooking? William recommends that you learn to follow the directions the first time. Those recipes were written that way for a reason! And start working on your knife skills; if it looks good, it will taste better, and good knife skills save time and finger tips.

3. Taste, taste, taste!

Build a large memory bank of tastes, scents, and flavor combinations, textures (both tactile and visual), learn the smells and sounds of the foods during their preparation and cooking processes. Taste, taste, taste, and soon you’ll know how it is supposed to taste. Develop your taste memories and opinions. The more you do this the better your palate will become.

The most important lesson William shared with us is to follow your heart. Just go ahead and try. You can always (or almost always) fix the problems with a dish or recipe, or you can start over. Learning to cook requires patience, practice, and strength of character, but also a creative mind and desire to express that creativity.

Get ready, Hopewell Valley, the Stampede has come to town!

The Hopewell Valley Stampede has arrived! Visit our Stampede website to see information about  all of the oxen, artists, and sponsors.

Daisy is looking for you to join the fun!

The fun begins when you pick up your free Stampede Exhibition map and you’re on your way!

You can participate in “Where’s Olly?”, a contest that lets you use your smartphone to track all of the oxen you’ve visited and vote on your favorite.

Are you a cyclist? Follow one of five different routes that wind you through the beautiful countryside and past the gorgeous oxen! Rather drive? Follow the “Cattle Drive” instead.

Have you fallen in love?  Decided there is a particular ox that you must have?  You are in luck! Many of the Stampede oxen are part of an online auction that ends on October 19 at 3pm! So hurry and place your bid!

Stay tuned!  You can keep up on all the events, programs and activities by following the Hopewell Valley Arts Council on FaceBook and Instagram (#ollyox, @hvartscouncil).

But don’t dilly dally – the public art exhibit will end on October 19!

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.