Cheers to balloon animals at the Creamery

Left to right Suzanne Schurr of Kennett Square and Mary Hutchins, executive director, Historic Kennett Square chat with the artist while he works.

Are those balloon animals in that wall or have I had one too many beers? Owners of the Creamery in Kennett Square, Dot and Mike Bontrager, are true visionaries who always wanted to include work by local artists in their pop-up beer garden and community gathering space. Every Thursday evening in June, from 5 to 7 p.m., trompe l’oeil (“fool the eye”) artist Robert Jackson will work on a mural while the Creamery patrons observe the provocative painting unfold. Jackson has chosen to add another “chink” in one of the plaster-covered brick walls. Into this faux wall chink, he will insert some of his signature balloon animals enjoying a beer and burger.

Detailed plan for the wall

Jackson usually paints in oil, but since the piece will not be indoors, he explained, “I wanted a paint that would be more suitable to the elements of the Creamery, which is certainly not a climate controlled environment! I checked into suggested outdoor mural paints and found a suitable acrylic paint. This is definitely a different approach for me as the drying time for acrylics is so much faster than oils and there is much less opportunity for blending.”

Robert C. Jackson was born in Kinston, NC, the oldest of five brothers who were each born in different Southeastern states. This early transient lifestyle has echoed in Jackson’s  career path traveled from electrical engineering, veered into the ministry and then, finally, in 1996, to his current, full-time and most fulfilling career as a contemporary still life artist. He credits all of his past life experiences as important influences on his present creativity.

Jackson enjoys a solid reputation in the art world, and his engaging paintings are on exhibit

Jackson's daughter Daughter Tessa chats with admirers of his work

in galleries and museums coast to coast. Director Emeritus of the Evansville Museum of Arts, History and Science (Indiana), John W. Steetman, III, observed, “The assured, accomplished hand of Robert Jackson easily places him among our most important mid-career American Realist painters. Although grounded in a technique that is near classical in its complex, meticulously rendered imagery, it is the subject matter itself, rife with giddy innuendo, that delights us with its irony, while still attending to the precarious possibilities that greet—or threaten—us at the dawn of each new day.” Fellow artist Mark Dance says about his friend, “Bob’s work is understandable. The subject matter may be nostalgic for older people, but younger people can grasp what is going on. Who can’t relate to food, fireworks and animal balloons?”

Jackson (right) with Mark Dance

Jackson says, “Working at the Creamery is a fun challenge. I am already finding that because of my intense focus, I block out the sounds around me once I get working. He adds, “I am really looking forward to the challenge of making this a convincing illusion. Right now, it is still just a painting on the wall. I want to pull it to the point where people have to go over and look at it to decide for themselves if it is a painting or real.”

The Creamery’s unique history as a once successful milk canning company founded in 1902 is apparent throughout the building. The original iron steps are still in place. Signs on the walls remind visitors of the building’s previous life. The Bontragers, who have lived in the Borough for 14 years, are committed to preserving the future and honoring the past of this historic Kennett Square landmark.

Located in the heart of Kennett Square, the Creamery opened to the public last summer. Reminiscent of the line from the movie Field of Dreams (1989)—“if you build it they will come”—swarms of patrons have passed through the garden gates since then. The Bontragers have succeeded in providing the vibe they intended for the space—“a backyard neighborhood BBQ.” Young singles, couples and groups of friends, babies in strollers and senior citizens—all comingle with ease. The kids enjoy the children’s garden and adults enjoy craft beer, good wine, play games, hear live music and dine from a revolving selection of food trucks.

The Creamery is located at 401 Birch Street. They are open during the summer, Thursday through Sunday--Thursdays, 5 – 10 p.m.; Fridays, 4 p.m. to midnight; Saturdays, 1 p.m. – midnight and Sundays, 12 – 9 p.m. Onsite parking is free.

 

 

 

 

 

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About Lora B. Englehart

Lora has a passion for art, gardening, yoga, music and dancing. She continues to research the life of locally born abolitionist and 1998 National Women's Hall of Fame inductee Mary Ann Shadd Cary. She is a dedicated community volunteer, working with the American Association of University Women, Wilmington, DE branch (programs chair), Chadds Ford Historical Society (former board member) and Brandywine Conservancy & Museum of Art. Lora lives in Birmingham Township with her husband Bill and son Brad. Daughter Erika lives in Pittsburgh with husband Bob and baby Wilhelmina. She is a former French, Spanish and ESL teacher, bilingual life insurance underwriter and public relations coordinator for Delaware Art Museum and Brandywine Conservancy & Museum of Art.

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