Lancaster adds trolley stops, brings back Art Alley to First Fridays

For upcoming First Fridays, the City of Lancaster has added a trolley that makes multiple stops, and brought back Art Alley.

Both Art Alley and the trolley will run on First Fridays from May through October.

The trolley will run a continuous loop from 5-8 p.m., picking up and dropping off riders near the following locations:

· Lancaster City Welcome Center – Penn Square

· Ewell Plaza – 100 block of North Queen Street

· 300 block of North Queen Street

· Pennsylvania College of Art & Design – 200 block of North Prince Street

· Gallery Row – 100 block of North Prince Street

· Ware Center – first block of North Prince Street

· A Concrete Rose Bookbar – 910 S. Duke St.

“First Friday is one of Lancaster’s most beloved traditions, and the addition of the trolley provides a unique and enjoyable way for visitors and residents alike to explore all that our vibrant city has to offer,” Mayor Danene Sorace said in a release.

The mission of Art Alley is to “extend the First Friday experience beyond observation and into participation,” the release said. The city has partnered with the Center for Creative Exploration at Pennsylvania College of Art & Design to program free make-and-go, experiential offerings, and creative experiences for all ages.

Demuth Foundation and the Lancaster Creative Factory are some of the partners who will be involved. Alongside opportunities for the public to participate in creative projects, artists will be showcasing their art and selling their work.

“It is very exciting to be entering the second year of Art Alley!” said Natalie Lascek, director of the Center for Creative Exploration. “We can’t wait to create and explore with the community through the amazing programming of many of our arts and culture partner organizations … .”

The newly branded Art Alley is at William Henry Place between the Lancaster City Welcome Center and Lancaster Central Market.

Paula Wolf is a freelance writer

Lancaster Symphony adds 4 board members, plans upcoming season

The Lancaster Symphony Orchestra appointed four new members to its board of directors and announced plans for its upcoming season.

“We are excited to welcome our four newest members to our board of directors,” said Guy McIntosh, general manager of the LSO. “There is no denying that the last few months have been filled with change and uncertainty, but we are continuing to rise to the challenge and strengthen the organization.”

The new members bring knowledge and experience from the arenas of nonprofit administration, the arts and education. Appointees include: Brent Edmondson, principal bass of the LSO, is also a composer, arranger, editor, engraver and publisher; Sara Male, acting principal cello, is a founding member of the Newstead Trio and Duo Chiaroscuro; Michael J. Slechta is coordinator of Music, Art, Humanities & 21st Century Skills in the School District of Lancaster; and Bob Thomas, Ph.D., served as an administrator for 33 years, including 10 years as vice president for student affairs at Millersville University, and is retired from Tabor Community Services.

Growing its board is one of many steps the LSO has taken in recent months to ensure a stable future. The orchestra is responding to current challenges with a newly designed 2020-2021 season. The orchestra’s 74th season will include chamber music favorites and be held in new environments as the nonprofit seeks to connect patrons to the music and performers.

LSO anticipates beginning its season in the fall with minimal seating capacity and numerous safety precautions designed to comply with or exceed social distancing guidelines outlined by government officials and the Centers for Disease Control and Prevention. Reduced subscription pricing is also available.

Packaging entrepreneurs’ path to success went from cubicle to coffee shop

Tom Newmaster and Brian Harper, founders of FORCEpkg in Lancaster, moved the firm into its first office at the W.W. Griest Building, six months ago after two years of operating remotely. PHOTO/ IOANNIS PASHAKIS

Posters of every major Star Wars film line a wall in a conference room and memorabilia from the films decorate the entrance at FORCEpkg’s office in downtown Lancaster.

Founders Tom Newmaster and Brian Harper don’t want their love for the science fiction classics to take away from the work they do at their package design and brand development firm, but there is a thread that ties together why they started the business and their love for the Star Wars franchise — freedom.

For 30 years, Newmaster and Harper have worked together in various design agencies. Their longest stint in a business together was at Berks County-based William Fox Munroe or WFM, a design agency that Newmaster purchased with three other partners in 1998.

Shortly after Newmaster sold his interest in WFM in early 2017, FORCEpkg was up and running from the dining room table in his home in Lebanon County. Within a few months there was a newly renovated studio in the house which included a printer to make prototype packaging, but the majority of FORCEpkg’s work was done at local coffee shops.

Unrestrained by nothing but a good internet connection, FORCEpkg’s clients began to grow and so did the number of freelancers Newmaster hired to keep up with the work, and one of those freelancers was Harper.

“For the last 20 years, even though it was the environment I helped create,it was — show up to your office and go to your cubicle,” Newmaster said. “We didn’t want that anymore.”

Then in 2018, tired of feeling tethered to their desks and no longer satisfied with a 9-to-5 work week, the two package design and branding industry veterans decided to formalize a new company concept and business partnership.

“It was about not being confined to an office, you don’t have to get in your seat at 7:30 and start working,” said Harper. “Doing the same type of work but not being tethered to a desk is a nice thing for creatives to have — it allows them to be creative in different environments.”

FORCEpkg’s clients include Robitussin, Advil, ChapStick and Stoner Invisible Glass. The firm creates packaging designs and develops brands for their clients with the point of sale in mind, Newmaster said.

Harper and Newmaster would meet their team at any business with a good internet connection. The company is cloud based, allowing them to  work through laptops and phones from anywhere.

“You quickly figure out when the Wi-Fi is good and where it is good,” Harper said.

While the team enjoyed the freedom working remotely gave them, a growing base of full-time employees and the desire to have a gathering place that wasn’t based the crew finding a table at a coffee shop, led FORCEpkg to find an office space they could make their own.

They found it on the top floor of the W.W. Griest Building at 8 N. Queen St. in Lancaster. When designing the space for their office, Harper told the architect design it like a coffee shop.

The firm has has been there for six months and has grown its staff to 12 people.

The office consists of one communal space and a conference room separated by a glass wall that often features drawings of popular characters from their favorite movie franchise. Employees work on movable desks and can mix their seating arrangements anyway they want.

The emphasis on freedom that FORCEpkg was built on is still evident in the firm’s attitude.

New employees are expected to be able to work in an unconventional environment and some work remotely from their client’s offices. The company is also lenient if employees need to take time for personal matters.

“It’s a lot of trust,” Newmaster said. “If there is any doubt about that trust it just doesn’t work.”

Not everyone entering FORCEpkg’s office immediately sees the connection to Star Wars. What was important, according to Newmaster and Harper, was to work on their terms in a way offered employees freedom and inspired creativity.

Along with their base of clients, the firm is currently building its knowledge of CBD and cannabis packaging. Newmaster has visited dispensaries and producers in Colorado and has kept close ties with experts in the industry.

The two founders hope to grow the company in the direction of marijuana packaging consulting and designing if Pennsylvania approves recreational marijuana.

“Eventually it is probably going to happen in Pennsylvania,” Newmaster said. “I wanted to establish ourselves as an expert on the subject matter and there is no one here so why not establish ourselves.”

Lebanon businesses team up to memorialize fantasy author in metal

Ray Bradbury was a master at capturing childhood dreams of adventure and exploration in his prose. Now, two Central Pennsylvania businesses are playing a part in honoring the world-renowned author in the form of a memorial sculpture.

E&E Metal Fab Inc. and Pennsylvania Precision Cast Parts, both based in Lebanon County, have teamed up with Rockville, Maryland-based sculptor Zachary Oxman to create a statue called “Ray Bradbury: Fantastical Traveler.” It is commemorating Bradbury’s life and work in honor of what would have been his 100th birthday this August.

Born to write

Ray Bradbury was born in Waukegan, Illinois on Aug. 22, 1920, and although he moved with his family to Los Angeles as a teenager, he never forgot the small town that would eventually feature prominently in his work, according to a website devoted to the memorial statue project.

Bradbury rejected the label of “science fiction author,” saying that his works focused on “magical realism,” arising from an extensive imagination he developed while growing up in his small town. His most famous works, including “Fahrenheit 451,” “The Martian Chronicles” and “Dandelion Wine” eventually became part of the canon of American literature. Bradbury died in 2012 at the age of 91.

The statue will be displayed in time for Bradbury’s birthday at the Waukegan Public Library in Lake County, Illinois – where Bradbury was born and raised.

The inspiration

In 2016, a committee of Waukegan community leaders put out a bid for a sculptor to present a design that captured the essence of Bradbury and his stories. Out of a pool of 41 national and international applicants, the committee chose Oxman. The town currently is campaigning to raise $125,000 to support the project, according to its website.

When Oxman learned about the call for artists to submit their best designs for a memorial statue of Ray Bradbury, he was immediately enthusiastic.

Although he doesn’t consider himself an avid fan of the author, he appreciates his work. Most of all, he saw it as a challenge he wanted to tackle.

“I was intrigued,” he said.

A digital rendering of what the Ray Bradbury statue will look like when it’s placed in front of the Waukegan Public Library in Illinois. – Submitted

Oxman describes himself as a “sculptural storyteller,” and he went to work learning about Bradbury and brainstorming how he could tell the author’s story through a creation of stainless steel.

He soon came across a poem of Bradbury’s, “If Only We Had Taller Been,” which deals with themes of human aspiration and space travel. It gave Oxman inspiration for the design.

Oxman decided on a 12-foot-tall, stainless steel statue that would depict a middle-aged Bradbury astride a rocket ship, waving a book as he journeys into space.

The sculptor said he wanted to depict Bradbury as an adult who still maintained the whimsical imagination of a child fantasizing about traveling to the moon. It’s no coincidence that in the sculpture, Bradbury is portrayed as a middle-aged man riding the rocket ship the way a child would ride it.

“The concept for the design was to play off this childlike imagination that Ray Bradbury always would reach for,” he said.

“He said that between our ears we have the rocket ship to the moon and that he could go anywhere. This was something that he followed all the way through his life as a child,” Oxman said.

“The rocket ship itself is very whimsical; not something that would exist in real life. It’s gears and a rocket, but it’s something the way a child might think of a rocket that would take you to the moon,” he said.

A partnership forged in metal

A sculptor for over 30 years, Oxman has completed commissions for two U.S. presidents, and his work has been exhibited throughout the U.S., including the National Museum of American Art, the White House and the Delaware Art Museum.

After being selected by the memorial statue committee, Oxman was ready to go with his design, but he needed a place to fabricate it. Fortunately, he had already established relationships with E&E Metal Fab and Pennsylvania Precision.

Oxman has collaborated with E&E Metal for the past eight years on a variety of large and small projects, including a statue of jazz legend Duke Ellington that now sits in Washington, D.C., according to E&E Metal CEO Willie Erb.

A welder puts the finishing touches on the Ray Bradbury statue that will be placed on the rocket. – Submitted

E&E, a family-run company founded in 2003, operates a full fabrication facility specializing in stainless steel, carbon steel, aluminum and other alloys. It has 25 full-time employees and five part-time employees, according to Erb.

The company has worked with Oxman on around 15 to 20 projects so far, so it was no surprise when the sculptor approached him earlier this year with his concept for the Ray Bradbury statue, Erb said.

“We are the fabricator of all his work and it’s really cool. He’s very innovative with everything he does,” Erb said.

In order to complete the project, Oxman also required the services of Pennsylvania Precision, a business he also has collaborated with for almost a decade, according to Mike Dissinger, Pennsylvania Precision vice president of sales.

“We’ve been involved in several projects of this scope and size, along with many other smaller projects,” Dissinger said.

Pennsylvania Precision was founded in 1954 as Quaker Alloy in Myerstown. In 1990, the company purchased a facility that previously housed the Lebanon Steel Foundry, where it remains today, according to the company’s website.

How it came together

Oxman first approached E&E Metal with his big-picture idea and the dimensions, which were saved on a thumb drive.

E&E was tasked with fabricating the rocket ship, and it did so by taking the thumb drive and programming the specifications onto a computer, which in turn directed a water jet to cut Oxman’s design out of stainless steel.

The rocket was made out of several tons of stainless steel, Erb said, which was rolled inside and outside and welded to create the rocket ship. A fin also was fabricated to sit at the back of the ship, he said.

The rocket took approximately four months to design and fabricate, Oxman said.

At the same time, Pennsylvania Precision began casting the Ray Bradbury statue using a lost-wax technique, a process that took around seven weeks to complete, Dissinger said.

In following the lost-wax process, Oxman presented Pennsylvania Precision with a pattern made of resin, which was coated in liquid ceramic to create a quarter- to half-inch shell.

Then, the initial resin material was melted, leaving a ceramic-shell negative of the pattern into which molten steel was poured. Eventually, the shell was blasted off to reveal the new, stainless-steel Ray Bradbury statue.

The full statue was completed in 25 parts, Dissinger said, which were then sent to E&E Metal to be welded together.

Once the entire project is completed, Oxman will take the rocket ship and the Ray Bradbury statue to be assembled together in his Maryland studio.

The entire project, from beginning to end, will take an estimated six to eight months to complete, he said.

By Aug. 22, Oxman’s homage to Ray Bradbury will sit outside the entrance to the Waukegan Public Library, according to the statue committee’s website, a fitting location for an author who was a fierce proponent of public libraries throughout his life.