Jennifer Barrile loves painting scenes from Roxborough and Manayunk. “I love the Manayunk Trail Bridge. Being up high, seeing all the houses, the color, the textures. It’s just so gorgeous. I did a painting of that, looking up Green Lane. It’s just so unique. “I also enjoy painting in the Wissahickon Park. I did one of the Thomas Mill Bridge, the only covered bridge in Philadelphia.”
She enjoys painting portraits, landscapes, and cityscapes. “There’s a beauty, rawness, and a prettiness to the city. I enjoy that. I like a little bit of ‘not-perfect’.” She’s also recently been commissioned for a number of portraits and paintings of local homes.
Jennifer lives in the Wissahickon neighborhood of Roxborough with her husband Nick, their daughter, and their cat. She grew up in South Philadelphia where she was drawing as soon as she could hold a pencil. Her parents enrolled her and her sister in art classes at Fleisher Art Memorial. “That was my first taste of a real class,” she says. “It was exciting. I realized that it was something that I really wanted to do.”
She went on to pursue her studies at Moore College of Art & Design. After college she got an internship at the Walnut Street Theatre where she spend a year painting backdrops and scenery. Working in the theatre on large-scale productions was something fun and new. After the theatre, she was ready to get back to her main focus, illustration. By chance, she had the opportunity to illustrate a children’s book. “It turned out to be a nearly four-year project,” she says.
While working part time at an administrative job she felt like she had the most creativity because the job wasn’t stimulating or exciting, which gave her a lot of time to think about creativity. She’s glad she had the job because she was surrounded by a lot of other creative people, like singers and artists, that it was a very creative environment. Her officemate was also an artist and they could spend some time each day talking about the craft. “She became somewhat of a mentor to me and helped me to explore and try new and different things.”
During her time at that job, Jennifer started doing projects on the side and featuring her work at art events and shows. “It was hard because I was kind of jumping without a net.”
Jennifer grew up in South Philly. When it came time for her and her husband, Nick, to buy a home they wanted to stay somewhere in Philadelphia but wanted a yard and more green space than they could get in their neighborhood. “We kept coming back to the Roxborough area. We loved the variety of homes, the yards, and the trees. When we saw our house the entire block was in bloom. It was beautiful.”
They loved that the neighborhood was in the city, but they could easily get outside for a walk in the park and get to local events like the Manayunk Arts Festival and the Night Market in Roxborough. Plus, being close to transportation and having plenty of other things to do nearby were big factors for them in choosing the area. “I drag my family out for walks all the time especially in the Wissahickon. There’s so many things to find there. We went to Rittenhousetown and I didn’t even realize that we could walk there.”
Jennifer’s Neighborhood Favorites
Check out some of Jennifer’s favorite spots in Roxborough & Manayunk . . .
Best Ice Cream
The Custard Stand, aka C&C Creamery. “I love the Fall flavors the best.”
A Tutti on Ridge, it’s really good and different, and Zesto’s.”
Zesto’s. I don’t like waiting in line at some of the others but either way Zesto’s cheesesteaks are really good.”
Winnie’s Le Bus
Best Family Night Out Restaurant
“Taqueria Feliz on Main Street. We’ve been there quite a few times. We also love Hilltown Tavern. It’s a great place to eat outside.”
Best Night Out Spot
“Dawson Street Pub. We like to go out with friends for the music.”
Best Festivals and Events
“Manayunk Arts Festival, of course. Also, the Night Market in Roxborough.Manayunk Halloween is also a lot of fun.”
Connect with Jennifer
Connect with Jennifer and check out her work at . . .