Buy local – and check out these amazing local artists and galleries

Story and Photo By Christina Heintzelman

Be on the look-out for Scrooges out there warning us about supply chain failure along with postal delay ruining the upcoming holidays. We have been warned about shortages from many Grinch-like characters hoping to put a negative spin on this holiday season. But if we all think outside the (gift) box, there will be no worries about supply chain delays, and our fears of not receiving our ordered goodies before that crucial day or days arrive will not be a problem.

What is the super-secret to making this happen? Must we hone our mysterious skills or pull out that magic wand?  Nope – all we need to do is to buy local and check out all the amazing local artists who are at the ready to make this season and every season a delight with their one-of-a kind dazzling products – not only for gift giving to others but also as a special gift we may have been desiring for our homes or ourselves. And if the thought of buying something so personal for another person worries you, think outside the (gift) box again and purchase a gift card from your local gallery or artist for your special someone.

The list is long for local places to shop and here are just a few to get you started on your journey of supporting our local artists and finding unique, covetable, and special items for you and the lucky people for whom you are shopping.

Many artists are named in this article and a few minutes spent Googling them or the galleries to find webpages and Facebook accounts can lead to an abundance of gift giving ideas and immediate gratification by being able to purchase the item directly from the artist or the gallery representing the artist. When was the last time you had the pleasure of buying an item and meeting and speaking with the person who created it?

Harrisburg Flea Market is a once a month pop-up pleasure. Check out their Facebook page for exact details of upcoming events or a plethora of photos of some of the wonderful items for sale.  Some vendors are a constant presence at this event but be on the alert for new vendors just waiting to show you their amazing products.  Everything is in abundance here, from essential oils and candles to beautiful handmade jewelry and accessories. Greeting or note cards? Yes – you will find them here also.

For your December shopping delights, Harrisburg Flea will be at Strawberry Square on Saturday, December 4, from 10 a.m. to 4 p.m. There will be an abundance of shopping opportunities from the more than sixty vendors who will be gathered there. Please check their Facebook page The HBG Flea and their website for the most current information on pop-up dates and vendors.

As Doug Koozer, co-owner of Brain Vessel pointed out to me, “The name Brain Vessel came from the idea of the brain being the talent and the vessel being the container used in helping us distribute the vast talents of our artists.” Brain Vessel is owned by Doug Koozer and Jason Kreiger who are both artists with stores in Hershey and Mechanicsburg.

Many of the artists you have read about in Harrisburg Magazine are represented in this gallery, including Toby Bouder, woodworker; Librada Vagnozzi, jeweler; and Jason Lyons, sculptor. In addition, the works of Wayne Fettro, oil painter; John Guarnera, potter; Stuart Leask, acrylic painter; and Jon Carraher, who illustrates playing cards, can be seen here along with the works of many other artists from various parts of the country. Whatever your artful desires may be there is bound to be something here that you will want for gift giving or as a treat for yourself. And while you are visiting, ask for a cup of their delicious locally made teas.

Brain Vessel not only represents artists, but they are also ‘artists helping artists’ by offering a host of other services such as branding, web and print designing, and marketing campaigns and strategy. And throughout the year various classes are held for you to unleash your hidden artistic talent. Other events also take place throughout the year and the listings can be found on the website.

You can visit Brain Vessel at 4704 Carlisle Pike, Mechanicsburg or 102 W. Chocolate Ave, Hershey. Please check their website for their hours, which will be changing during the holiday season.

Founded in 1926, Art Association of Harrisburg (AAH) will soon be celebrating its 100th anniversary of providing the best of local artists and art classes to residents of our area. Located since 1964 in the beautiful Governor Findlay Mansion along Governors’ Row on Front Street in Harrisburg, it has become a long-standing staple of our community. Many local artists and members exhibit their art on a regular basis, not to mention teach classes to both children and adults.

Carrie Wissler-Thomas has been the President of AAH since 1986. In 1988 Carrie founded Harrisburg Gallery Walk, a popular yearly event. She is a free-lance writer and local artist herself, and states that everyone who is employed by AAH is also an artist. Carrie works tirelessly to promote the visual arts in Central PA. and has made major sales of local artists’ works to area businesses.

A new exhibit is curated every 5 weeks and townspeople are always anxious to attend the openings and see what new artists are being displayed.

Almost all the art on display is for sale and there is also a large gift gallery displaying local artists’ treasures. In addition, gift certificates may be purchased for works of art and art classes. A membership to AAH is always a great gift idea, too.

Local artists Steve Wetzel, Jonathan Frazier, Hannah Dobek, Joanne Landis, Ted Walke, and Reina 76, who have all appeared in the pages of Harrisburg Magazine, have also exhibited at AAH.

AAH is open daily with an assortment of hours, depending on the day. You can get an up-to-date listing of hours for gallery operations or upcoming exhibits and classes by visiting their website AAH also has a Facebook page, Art Association of Harrisburg.

Vivi on Verbeke is the bricks-and-mortar dream of potter and painter, Vivian Stertse Brandler and her partner Jeb Boyd, photographer. Vivi also has her clay studio in the basement of this historical gem on Verbeke St near the Broad Street Market.

A wide array of pottery items is available, which include Vivi’s Susquehanna River series and other one-of-a-kind hand thrown and kiln fired pieces. And yes, custom orders are taken with a deposit. She also has an assortment of oil paintings that she creates in between her clay work. You may even find an assortment of handmade soaps and greeting cards mixed in with the other treasures.  

Jeb’s photography adorns the walls and is available in many sizes.  Mostly all his pieces are printed to canvas for a beautiful presentation. The genre is wide and varied and it would be nearly impossible not to find something for yourself or as a gift.

Gift cards are available for artwork and for one-on-one pottery classes.

The studio is open Friday through Sunday, or you can call and leave a message to set up an appointment – 717-961-9826. Visit the website or the Facebook page @258Verbeke.

Tara Chickey, Arts Director at The Millworks, has a huge job on her hands overseeing the seventeen studios and forty-two artists who make their home there. In addition, she supervises the gallery gift shop located near the front entrance. The gallery gift shop provides an overview of the many artists’ works who call Millworks their home, so if a particular studio is closed you may be able to purchase a piece from the gift shop.  In addition, there is an art exhibit hung in the main corridor which rotates every month and features artists residing in the various studios. “Our artists range from fine art to functional art and every studio gives you a very different view of art and artists in our surrounding area,” Chickey states. 

Hours for the Millworks vary according to the day of the week, and artists’ studios may not be open during all the regular hours of the restaurant located in The Millworks. Most studios are open during 3rd in The Burg and First Saturdays throughout the year. Weekends are good times to catch various artists hard at work in their studios, too. If you are interested in purchasing a particular piece of art and the artist is not available in his/her studio, you can ask someone at the main desk to accompany you to the studio for a purchase to be made. An email sent to Chickey ( can also get you quick results for contacting a particular artist.

Many artists have aligned their personal websites and/or Facebook page with the webpage for The Millworks ( There is a sidebar listing all the artists located in The Millworks as part of this article. The Millworks is located at 340 Verbeke St in Harrisburg.

Harrisburg’s latest addition to the gallery scene is Nyeusi Gallery. “Nyeusi Gallery showcases artists of color who create art which speaks to the black experience,” gallery co-owner and co-winner of Harrisburg Magazine’s “Simply the Best” Artist of the Year award, Michelle Green, states. Dale Dangleben is the other half of this dynamic duo in the art gallery community. Dangleben provides photographic art and is also a novelist who writes about the Black experience. In addition, he oversees Nyeusi Print which offers high quality printing services to artists who wish to create limited edition prints of their original works. 

A trip to this gallery will surely convince you of the abundance of black talent in our city and the surrounding area. Original pieces of art, art prints, sculpture, books, and jewelry all await your perusal and purchase.

In addition to Green’s and Dangleben’s art you can find works by Paul Hood, Larry Lenzz Washington, and Brian King Prolific Hickman, who all are alumni of Harrisburg Magazine’s ‘Artful Inspirations’ monthly stories. Works by Harrisburg Magazine’s “Simply the Best” Artist of the Year co-winner, Bethany Nicholle, Michele Hairston, Donnie Lyons, Redpatch Studios, Steve Barber, Kwatei, and Stephanie Lewis are also exhibited.

Hours vary according to the day of the week, but you can find this listing on their Facebook page and on Instagram @nyeusigsallery.  Nyeusi Gallery is located at 1224 North 3rd St, Harrisburg. 

Metropolis Collective is owned and operated by artist Hannah Dobek and rock raconteur Richard Reilly.  Metropolis is a contemporary fine arts gallery and hosts live performances with a twist.  It is the home of Trash Art Gallery, Stage Noir, and the newly launched Shocking Horse Designs created by Ivy Compton, teenage daughter of Dobek. Dobek is another alumna of Harrisburg Magazine and appeared in an article in the July 2021 issue.

Artists and exhibits change regularly so check out their Facebook page, Metropolis Collective, for hours, updates, and live performance information.

Metropolis Collective has a cool and edgy vibe but can surprise with a collection of realist and representational pieces which make this a place for everyone to stop and shop.

In addition to Dobek’s art (about which she states “I don’t want to be genrefied – I am an intuitive artist who does not approach my art with an absolute idea. I am just the channel of the voice my art creates”) you can explore the art of local artists such as Paul Nagle, Paul Kostabi, Rochelle Lowe, the Huckle Buckle Boys, and Chris Cash.

Metropolis Collective is located at 17 W. Main St, Mechanicsburg, and can be found online at