Welcome to "Hello, Penn!" This is a personal portrait project of mine. it started as an art project for a gallery exhibit, but it grew from there. i love meeting new people, and i love highlighting the cool people in our neighborhood. photography is my medium, and this is a way for me to give back. there is never a fee for this. We will collaborate and style your session to tell your story, aiming to capture your essence in a single photo. you must be willing to provide a bio to share, and then we meet to make magic!
When Tommy isn't brewing Greensburg's favorite coffee, slingin' awesome records, or making the ladies swoon (I mean, look at that face!), he's hanging out in the oldest house built in Greensburg, which he bought with his long-time girlfriend and business partner Amber. He's one of the hardest-working small business owners in Greensburg, as he co-owns
The White Rabbit Cafe and Patisserie and Rabbit Hole Records Greensburg.
The White Rabbit Cafe and Patisserie and Rabbit Hole Records Greensburg.
Fun Fact: He has his master's degree in Library and Information Science from the University of Pittsburgh
Alan is awesome. He spends most of his time working, and when he isn’t on the clock with his employer, he chooses to work some more, crafting donuts, giving them away for donations, and then giving all of that money to local charities. He the kind of awesome we should all aspire to be. If you don’t know Alan and his Black Metal donuts, World, Meet Alan Kantorik:
Alan. 26. Occult donut philanthropist. Workaholic. Extreme metal enthusiast. Traveler. Sous Chef at J Corks. Record collector/salesman. Projected optimist. Face tattoo. Meme Sommelier. Big fan of hugs. Even bigger fan of coffee. Seen every episode of South Park 3 times. Alexis, fiancé. Mama’s boy.
I met Bill at the White Rabbit. He was always sitting on a couch and drinking tea. As I am prone to do, I started chatting with him one day. (I’ve always loved meeting new people.) He told me this wonderful tale about his childhood; It was full of hardships and kindness. When I started this portrait project, Bill was very high on my list of people to ask. I truly hoped he would let me create a portrait and tell the story he told me one afternoon as we were drenched in afternoon sunlight and caffeine. (Edit to add this portrait was taken at DV8 Espresso Bar & Gallery.
It is my complete honor to introduce you to Bill Gettemy:
I was born on June 28, 1944. I remember being young and living in the country. When I was about 8 years old, my mom got sick with cancer and my dad abandoned her. When she passed on, my 2 sisters and I were sent to live in an orphanage. The orphanage was good to me. All I wanted for Christmas my first year was a Red Schwinn bicycle, and I got it!
My older sister, Carol, was sent away. Quindor, my younger sister left the orphanage next.
I was there about a year, until I was 9-years-old. I went to live with a family on a farm near Latrobe. The wife was nice to me, but the husband was real mean. One day, he slammed me into the floor. After an incident when I was sick and walked into the woods to get away for a bit, the wife called my social worker to get me out of the house.
I spent time with one other family before I was sent to Milton Hershey School. It was the 1950’s and I started there in 6th grade. I stayed in the intermediate cottages. This was the housing for 6, 7, and 8th grade. We had house families for the cottages. They would spent one week with us, and then switch off to go home for a week. One of the cottage families, Mr. & Mrs. Peterman, took a liking to me. On their weekends off, I would spend time in their home in Altoona. It was lovely to have a family experience. I graduated in 1963.
After graduation, I came back to Greensburg and I’ve been here ever since! I worked at various machine shops and manufacturing factories for about 30 years until I retired. I love Greensburg!
Sadly, bill passed away in 2018. He was an incredibly kind soul and this picture means so much more to me now. a print hangs in dv8 to honor the mark he left on this world.
My name is Paula Jenkins Sykes. I grew up in Irwin and graduated from Norwin and moved to Greensburg in 1973. I have been married for 42 years to a Greensburg native, Scott Sykes. I live in Greensburg and I am a member of Zion’s Evangelical Lutheran Church in Greensburg.
I want to tell you about Little Dresses for Africa (LDFA) and about our sewing ministry at my church on Pennsylvania Avenue in the heart of downtown Greensburg.
LDFA s a non-profit organization which provides relief for children in Africa. LDFA was started by Rachel O'Neill in 2007. She went to Africa for her 50th birthday and was so saddened when she saw the little girls either naked or in rags. She told her husband she was going to return to Africa next year and she was going to ask her friends to make simple dresses with her to take back to Africa. Her first goal was to take 1,000 dresses to a single village. Since then she has received over 6 million dresses from the USA, UK, Canada, Mexico, and Australia. The dresses have been sent to 83 countries in and around Africa. Dresses have also been sent to other countries in crisis such as Honduras, Guatemala, The Philippines, Cambodia, Mexico and thousands and thousands to Haiti. In addition, LDFA has sent dresses to children in need right here in the United States, in the Appalachian Mountains and South Dakota. These dresses are more than something to wear, these little dresses go all over the world to plant in the hearts of little girls that they are worthy.
Let me tell you how I got started making the little dresses. Seven years ago in July when my niece’s third birthday was approaching, I decided to sew a dress for her. I hadn't sewn a dress in many years but I was excited about sewing again. I started to look online for a pattern for a dress called the "pillowcase dress". I saw some articles online about Little Dresses for Africa which caught my attention. I made a dress for my niece, then another and another and soon I had 12 dresses made. I knew that no little girl needed 12 dresses so I asked my friend what should I do with them all? I really enjoy making them and want to make more." She replied, "you could make them for little girls in Africa!" I knew at that moment that is what I wanted to do and more importantly what I was MEANT to do. I felt this was something God was asking me to do. LDFA founder Rachel O'Neill tells us that new clean dresses also provide a form of protection for the girls. Girls wearing new clean dresses are much less likely to be abused, sexually exploited or taken advantage of because they look like somebody cares for them and they would be missed if they disappeared. The dresses also help the girls feel worthy and hopefully send the message that someone loves them---that God loves them and cares for them.
LDFA says " we aren't just sending dresses, we are sending Hope.”
I have made 600+ dresses so far and hope to meet a personal goal of 1,000 by my 70th birthday in 2023. If you would like to join the sewing group at my church, please contact the church for meeting days.
"I started to work at the Manos Theater in 1965 as an Usher for 55 cents an hour. I met many new people but one caught my eye; she also worked there as the Candy Counter Girl. It was a family affair as her father worked there as the Maintenance Man. He had also worked on the construction of the Manos back in 1926. Due to his history with the theater, his daughter was well known to the Manos Family, the owners of the theater. The Manager also knew the entire family quite well since her family had lived for a time in one of the apartments on the second floor of the building. We started dating that same year (1965). Four years later, we were married in June of 1969---48 years ago! Today I volunteer for the Westmoreland Cultural Trust helping out when and where as needed. It has been my honor to serve my community here, returning after some 53 years to the place I found my wife (or she found me.) Over the years I have been a part of other non-profits in the local area. I may never be able to donate large sums of money to support these organization, but I can donate my time to the community where my family has lived, worked, raised families and helped to support this area for nearly 250 years---I am just following in my family’s footsteps. One of the great joys of my life has been and will continue to be the experiences of working with the great people of this area to help maintain our community and work towards making it the best it can be."
“I was always creating growing up. I was pretty imaginative when I was younger and a big part of me misses that area of my life and I almost envy that little girl and wish I could find her again. I constantly came up with ways to entertain myself and could make something amazing out of very little resources. I think that’s why art was always my go-to. There was no “right or wrong”, no “x equals the sum of B plus ten”. Art was, and is, whatever you wanted it to be... whatever you made it.
I never liked any other aspect of school, besides the language and art classes. Nothing else made sense to me. Nothing else motivated me. Nothing else inspired me. I always envied the kids who could memorize dates and recall each war or president. The kids whose work reflected the correct answers on their math homework. That was never me.
Art soon became every part of me. I’d look at objects or people in everyday life and imagine how I’d draw them, where I would even begin.
I not only loved making art, but as a later Humanities major, I adored studying art. I saw how different locations all over the world, different time periods, different influences and styles, all impacted artistic expression. My senior thesis at the University of Pittsburgh included how art was affected before and after dictatorship in Spain.
I loved artists who took risks, artists who pushed boundaries, artists who made you think and question and feel. I’ll never forget being in Spain and standing in front of Picasso’s “Guernica” - the size of it, the muted color palette, the emotion, the fact that it was roped off and alarmed and had security guards standing by if anyone were to get too close. Show me a math equation that has that amount of influence.
Besides painting and drawing, when photography was introduced into my life, it became just as important. I treat it very much the same as I do creating any other piece of art. There’s composition and lighting and emotion and focus that go into each image, just as any painting or drawing. Each photographer has a style and a feel just as any artist does.
I’d love to be able to say that I’ve become a legend. That I’m the next famous name. That I’ll be the next artist inspiring other creatives. I think we all, especially as young people, have those hopes and dreams for our craft to be noticed and appreciated and adored. As I get older, I realize that I just want to create and continue to do so as long as I can. Naturally, I want to produce work that other people positively respond to, but also something that I can be proud of. I think that’s where true success lies, in proving yourself wrong and growing and learning and making yourself proud.
It’s about doing it for yourself before anyone else, because of your own love and passion for what you’re doing. You have to believe in it, but also believe in the person behind it. The person who keeps relentlessly trying, even through the frustration and confusion and tears. I think once you tackle that, you’re set. It’s the comparison and the doubt and the insecurity that almost every creative wrestles with. The goal is to remember who you’re doing it for, and why. That person is you, that person is that little girl inside of you, and you can’t forget that.”
Tom is a Long Island transplanted pilot who has lived in the Greensburg area for the last ten years. When not traveling the world (45 states and 25 countries so far) he can be found wandering around the Greensburg area having misadventures with his beloved sidekick Watson.
“I am a graduate of Jeannette High School and the Indiana University of PA. I was an art major at IUP and during the summers I worked as a caricature artist at Idlewild Park. Since then I’ve worked as a graphic artist and illustrator but continue to draw caricatures at events and festivals. You may also see me doing live painting at art shows and events including the "Paint the Town" series for the
’s "Art in the Alley" project where I also designed digitally produced pieces.
It is important to me to support the creative community. I often did photos and artwork for various bands, many of whom I met through Greensburg open mic nights and events at the Keynote Cafe in Jeannette. I didn’t consider performing music until my friends from the Grundle Brothers encouraged me to play harmonica at their open mic.
After hearing about that, the band
invited me to join them at several shows. I’m grateful they allowed a comparably inexperienced musician to join them on stage and treated my harmonica as if it were a lead guitar. Seven years later, through studio recordings, live radio broadcasts, and shows in 5 different states, I’m still performing with them.
Local art and music have provided me many unique opportunities. I’ve met so many talented artists and musicians, many of whom have invited me on stage and many have become great friends.”
Mary Ellen raneri is an artist in every sense of the word. she is a retired English teacher now spends her time earning degrees in art and practicing with every medium she can get her hands on. in her true fashion, she wrote a story for her bio, and its too long to share in this space, so please visit the post by clicking on "see more" and read her story in her own words!
Hi, I’m Moira! I rent an art studio in downtown Greensburg through the Westmoreland Cultural Trust’s Incubator for the Arts program. I’ve always enjoyed crafts, but only recently began applying the title of artist to myself. My background is in writing, and I have a degree in Creative Writing from Seton Hill, but these days I mostly paint, though words do pop up in most of my paintings.
I came into art the long way around. I didn’t take any art classes in high school, and I only took 2-d design and art history in for my arts credits in college, and truthfully, I never thought I had any artistic talent whatsoever, though I did always enjoy making weird crafty projects just for fun. I made some friends at Seton Hill who insisted that my craft projects were actually art, and while I didn’t really believe them at the time, I guess the germ of that idea stuck because here I am years later!
I never could draw very well, but when I was teaching jewelry-making classes to middle school students (which slowly evolved into arts classes over the years), I was always telling my students that they just needed to practice in order to get better at any skill they wanted to learn. One day I decided I should practice what I preached so I decided that I would teach myself how to draw. It ended up being something I loved to do, and I did get better with practice, and from there I got into art journaling, which soon led to me deciding I wanted to paint.
Now I find myself mostly working with glow-in-the-dark and UV-reactive (i.e. black light) paints to create surreal space paintings, which, as I mentioned earlier, usually end up with some words attached. This is not where I expected to end up, but luckily, I didn’t have much of a pre-conceived notion of my artistic path when I was starting out (mostly because it took me a long time to recognize myself as an artist!) so I was free to follow my creative muse wherever she took me. If you had told me 5 or 10 years ago that I’d be painting full time now, well, I wouldn’t have believed it!
My latest project is the Art of Love exhibit currently on display until the end of March at the Greensburg Garden and Civic Center. I have always enjoyed art, even before I considered myself an artist, and I have always wanted to curate my own show – well this year I finally got the chance to do it, thanks to some help from some amazing people, and it has been an awesome experience! My goal was to find 12 artists – I ended up with 37! In fact, the show was so much fun and the artist reception so successful, that I have already asked to do it again – so watch for the Art of Love 2019 next February!
Steve is a Jeannette native who moved to Greensburg a few years ago because he fell in love with the art, culture, and the amazing restaurants. Steve is community-oriented and remains an active member of the “Jeannette Arts Council”, a community revitalization project through art and music of which he helped create a few years ago. As a member of the “JAC”, he volunteers for events, parades, festivals, and will even be teaching a basic electronics class to young students next month at the Keynote Cafe. Steve has also made a name for himself over the years through his passion of building and customizing cars having been featured in newspaper articles, magazines, and many other media outlets, as well as receiving many awards, most recently being first place in his class at the distinguished “World of Wheels” custom auto show in Pittsburgh. His creations can be seen throughout the summer months at car shows and parades across the region. His love of electronics and mechanics is not limited to cars as he also takes pride in restoring antiques in his spare time. From fans and cameras to even an original french fry cutter from Oakford park (commissioned by the Jeannette Historical Society). He has turned his passion into a rewarding career with UPMC maintaining medical devices, after receiving a degree in Biomedical Engineering Technology from Penn State, with plans of returning for a degree in Electrical Engineering. When he is not at work, spending time with his new wife, Becky, and their 2 adorable puppies, Sir Breckenridge and Toto, volunteering, or in the garage creating, he can be found performing throughout the region as the keyboard player in two popular area cover bands “CRUSH”, and “Mr. BONES.”
I wish there were more Gary’s in the world—Reliable, intelligent, self-motivated, creative, hard-working. You know, just an all-around amazing, good human being. He’s a rare find and I’m pretty stoked I get so see him a couple of times a week when he travels to Gbg to code at one of the local coffee shops with my husband Paul. Also, I owe him for coming through in the crutch and lugging all of his equipment with him last Friday so I could take this portrait for my project. Since I am traveling this week, I knew it was going to be tricky to get everything done, and like always, Gary came through. Thanks Gary. World, meet this incredibly awesome dude:
Gary Newsome: software developer for SavvySoftWorks, LLC in Greensburg, PA.
“I am a developer, musician, artist, creative being. I love to create, and I love to use any toys or gadgets I can get my hands on to do it. Be it software for art or design, programming languages to create websites and software, or instruments to create and write music. My favorite guitar toys would be my effects pedals I use create soundscapes and noise either within my songs or by themselves.”