Updated: May 30, 2020
About two years ago, a well known local shop owner..especially if you love ice cream, walked into my old studio over on Gay Street. Warren Brown, owner of Brown's Cow, dressed in blue jeans and a plain t-shirt, smiling under his hat, stopped to take a peek at the art.
14 years ago, Mr. Brown had a feeling that things were about to turn the corner in Phoenixville, and believed that this was the time to create the life for himself and his family that he wanted - a business in town that his children, and eventually grandchildren, could help grow and run. A gathering place. Something he could pass down. The questions was, sandwiches or ice cream?
I'm sure I'm not the only one thankful he went with ice cream...no offense to Subs (Or Hoagies... which is what you say when you're from this area of PA...but I grew up with Subs, so that's what I'm sticking with). Once he made his decision to open up an ice cream shop, he was then faced with the mounting expenses of opening a small business and he was granted a small business loan to get started but soon realized that it was going to take more than that.
Against the advice of many, including his father who was in finance, he decided to cash in his retirement to open up for business.
Now, if you live in Phoenixville today, it's not difficult to imagine that an ice cream shop on Main Street would be successful. Even during the time of coronavirus, the town pulses with life and energy. It was not this way 14 years ago. This was a huge risk...but he listened to his gut and moved forward anyway.
I find his story so incredibly inspiring and very much on theme with what I love to paint most...grit. Grit is the courage and perseverance to keep going...even when it's hard, even when people say you can't, even when you are afraid.
As Mr. Brown and I chatted in my studio 2 years ago, our conversation continued on about his shop, and he shared his story with me then. It was perhaps the next day, feeling inspired, that I headed into the shop to take some photos for a painting...which is the reference for this piece.
This painting highlights the impact that one person's dream can have on an entire community. Summer after summer, countless people have created long-lasting memories of their time together, sitting on the steps, licking melting ice cream from cones and fingers. Mr. Brown, we are so glad you took the risk and we can't wait to sit on your front steps again.