Julie Rosenthale is the owner and chief creative guru of Hopewell’s happily color-splattered studio, Art Sparks. She is currently developing programming and workshops to encourage parents to create art with their children and recently exhibited her encaustic works at Handmade Hopewell, a new makers’ street fair showcasing the borough’s creativity, imagination, and talent.
“I moved to the Princeton area from Atlanta 25 years ago, after college. I followed my parents here and was really excited to be in an intellectual college town, and in such close proximity to the phenomenal art museums of New York and Philadelphia. My educational background is in art history, studio art, and teaching, but I also spent a decade working for local businesses, which allowed me to see the area’s spirit of entrepreneurship up close—and the concept of Art Sparks was always in the back of my mind.
Working as an early childhood art teacher, I would marvel at the uninhibited creativity of young children, and their innate ability to notice detailed aspects of art that adults can often miss. I was eager to create a place where kids could enrich their love of art-making, but in a space where the creative process wouldn’t be hampered by concerns about spilling paint and glue.
Living in Hopewell for the past 19 years, I’ve discovered what a true artistic community it is. It’s incredible to see artists working en plein air with their easels and paints outside the historic railroad station or learning that Hopewell has an annual tour of its artists’ studios. And I love exploring The Watershed Institute; the moment I enter the drive to Honey Brook Organic Farm, I feel my blood pressure drop. Nature and art go hand in hand, and I’m always inspired by the preserved lands of this beautiful area.
But my favorite thing about Hopewell is the people. The town is populated with genuinely caring, super-smart parents who have an understanding of the value of the arts in the development of a child—and the active nature of this community has driven the artistic culture and activities of Hopewell. We’re lucky to have schools that support the arts, and programs that encourage not only the visual arts, but theater, music, culinary arts, dance, and creative writing. Being part of such a dynamic community, I couldn’t imagine a better place to be raising my children.” —As told to Jennifer P. Henderson (article originally appeared in Bricks & Mortar: Spring/Summer 2018)