The Village of Arden, Jazz Age on the Delaware, Stickwork

Russ McKinney & The Village of Arden

Art of Life – Produced by Karen Smyles

The Village of Arden was founded in 1900 by a group of early residents interested in building a utopian community. Based on economic principles established by Henry George, it attracted artists inspired by the arts and crafts movement to set up homes in this Delaware town. Today, Arden is home to many fine artisans, including Russ McKinney.

Russ McKinney is an artist, writer and musician who has called the Village of Arden home since 1969. McKinney began drawing at the age of four, and did his first hand-tooled, low-relief in copper when he was 9. Copper remains his primary medium and the majority of his current works are of botanical subjects. If you were to visit his garden, you would certainly understand why that is. An avid gardener, he has turned his yard into a botanical wonderland that continues to be a source of inspiration for his art.

Late spring of this year, Friday Arts had the pleasure of spending a couple days with Russ and his wife Connie. In our interview, McKinney shares the difficult circumstances that lead him to gardening, surrounding the death of his son, Owen, at the age of six. He talks about their ability to get through it all in the town they embraced and helped flourish.

We also talk with Barbara Macklean at The Arden Craft Shop Museum, about the Museum’s beginnings and the role it has continued to play in this “Artful” village. It’s a place surrounded by the history of the early artisans and those who reside there today.

When shooting was done, the Friday Arts crew found it difficult to leave the quaint Village of Arden, after experiencing a lot of good conversation, a lot of good art and music, and great homemade cookies by Russ!

Jazz Age on the Delaware

Art of Food – Produced by Monica Rogozinski

Jazz Age on the Delaware is the first annual event that takes place at Glen Foerd, Philadelphia’s only public Gilded Age mansion and resident hidden gem. Here, the Roaring 20s are brought back to life with period-inspired craft spirits provided by a local distillery, Art in the Age, as well as a pie contest, dancing, and live jazz performances. Set amidst a backdrop of antique cars, swinging hemlines and the natural beauty of the Delaware riverfront, Jazz Age celebrates the vibrant history and culture of the 1920s with an authenticity found nowhere else in Philadelphia.


Art – Produced by Michael O’Reilly

Stickwork is the name that sculptor Patrick Dougherty uses for his website because it seems to be an apt description of what he does – coaxing sticks and branches into sculptures and structures. His creations look like something you would see in a fantasy movie, where elves or other woodland creatures might live, or use as their magical fortress or hiding place. Dougherty makes 10 of these creations a year at botanical garden or arboretums all over the world, and enlists volunteers from the surrounding area to help him make the pieces. Consequently, the individuals and organizations feel much more invested in the artwork. Dougherty is able to direct this enthusiasm into the creation of the work, and “listens” to the strength of his volunteers in ultimately deciding the direction of the piece he is creating. With the piece at the Morris Arboretum, “Waltz in the Woods”, the frozen ground from the harsh winter dictated much of the early development of the artwork. Chief Horticulturist Vincent Marrocco talks about the development of the piece and about the Morris Arboretum generally. We visit the OUT ON A LIMB exhibit where The Executive Director, Paul Meyer, tells us of the award the exhibit just received – not only for the design itself, but also for the subsequent and sustained membership increase over the past 6 years that the exhibit has seemingly brought to this institution. Exploring the exhibit, people can feel like they are soaring amid the trees or as if they are part of the nest of a giant bird. If that was not enough, our cameras are taken on the garden railway through log tunnels and lover stick trestles, where the caretaker of the trains looms like a giant and the presence of other people and children are the only things that contradict the notion that we are the only inhabitants in a magical world of the Morris Arboretum’s making.

Want a digest of WHYY’s programs, events & stories? Sign up for our weekly newsletter.

Together we can reach 100% of WHYY’s fiscal year goal