Arts Around Town

Arts Around Town: Designer Scott Rothenberger: Choosing theme is key in holiday décor

What fashion tape is to a celebrity's wardrobe, spray paint is to a designer's holiday décor. Such is the case with award-winning interior and exterior designer Scott Rothenberger, who shares some artful tips on how to decorate in and around the home using the resources at hand – and spray paint is at the top of the list.

"I'm a big fan of spray paint, cutting things from the garden and using spray paint and glitter," said Rothenberger, who's pooled nearly 20 years of experience in the architectural and landscape design industry into one entity known as Scott Rothenberger's PLACE, based in Barto, Berks Co. The one-stop design firm offers interior and exterior architectural design, landscape design and installation, and event and holiday decorating. Rothenberger also designs for weddings and larger-than-life-themed galas. His assistant is Jennifer Baro, a classmate from Boyertown High School.

A graduate of architectural design from Northampton Community College and architecture and business marketing from Arizona State University, Rothenberger is well-known for thinking out of the box and coming up with jaw-dropping effects at Christmas. What's more, he believes they can be achieved on an affordable budget.

"There's no more eco-friendly holiday decorating idea than harvesting Mother Nature's offerings," Rothenberger said. "Just open your eyes and look to nature for inspiration…then add a little spray paint and glitter for that holiday sparkle."

He explained how hydrangea blooms can be dried and then spray painted in silver, gold or red, according to a person's scheme or theme. He suggested using spray glue and a sprinkling of glitter for effect. The blooms can be used to fill planters, vases or containers in or out of the home. He even suggested placing them in the holiday tree, on the mantle or in a wreath. He has often stuck clusters of spray-painted, ornamental grasses in a Christmas tree to give it height.

Shrubs with berries – Ilex Verticillata, or "winterberry holly" and Callicarpa Issai, or "Beautyberry" – can be clipped before the deciduous leaves fall off, he said. Cut the stems with the leaves on and then pick the leaves off. The remaining "striking" berries should last through the holidays when placed in a vase of water or in outdoor planters.

Whether it's using white lights (they don't detract from the glittery, colorful ornaments) and draped fabric and ribbon for a traditional look, or adding red and white pouf bath puffs for a whimsical "Candy Land" experience, Rothenberger possesses the Midas touch in transforming a living space to reflect any lifestyle celebration at Christmas. Among the places to shop for the unusual, he said, are hardware stores and out-of-the-way departments.

For one of his own semi-annual "Eve of Eve" (Dec. 23) Christmas parties, Rothenberger explained how he chose a whimsical Dr. Seuss-themed party with related invitations, menu and decorations. His guests even arrived in costume.  He described how he took white wire stick trees (the ones used outdoors) to create a 16-foot tree. He draped it in artificial green garland that came swirling down and around so that it appeared to fly off the tree and give the appearance of "growing all over the house." He hung ornaments on the roping, suspended giant hula hoops from the ceiling and placed giant fluorescent exercise balls around his home. He described the effect as "Christmas exploding."

Rothenberger refers to his talent in design as "a blessing from God" and said it's important that he gives back to the community. He devotes much of his time and talent to local charity fundraisers, including the Pediatric Cancer Foundation of the Lehigh Valley, and the American Cancer Society. He said he's been chosen to decorate for the Susan G. Komen Foundation's "Pink Tie Ball" in October 2014. His work with local arts organizations includes the Allentown Art Museum and the Historic Bethlehem Partnership.

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Allentown's "Lights in the Parkway" transforms into a winter wonderland with its drive-through display more than a mile long for Thanksgiving weekend, beginning Friday through Sunday, from 5:30 p.m. to 10 p.m., and again beginning Dec. 6 through Dec. 31 nightly (closed Christmas Day). Horse-drawn carriage rides are available by reservation only. The park entrance is located at 1700 Martin Luther King Jr. Boulevard.  

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"Pip: The Mouse Before Christmas" opens Friday through Jan. 14, 2014, with show times Monday through Saturday at 12:30 p.m., 1:30 p.m. and 2:30 p.m., at The Liberty Bell Museum, 622 W. Hamilton St., Allentown.

Breakfast with Pip the Mouse will be held Dec. 7, beginning at 8 a.m., in the church Fellowship Hall; reservations for seating are required.

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Parkland High School graduate Trevor James will open for The New York Tenors on Saturday at 7:30 p.m., at the State Theatre in Easton. Trevor is a Master's student pursuing his degree in vocal performance/pedagogy at New York University's Steinhardt School. He studied classical voice at Temple University. Trevor was a 2008 Freddy Awards nominee for outstanding actor in a leading role as Jean Valjean in "Les Miserables." He has performed at the Shawnee Playhouse and Pines Dinner Theatre, Philadelphia Opera Collective and Temple Opera.

The three New York tenors -- Andy Cooney, Michael Amante and Daniel Rodriguez – will be singing songs of the season in a concert themed "Memories of Herald Square." All are longtime friends of the State Theatre who were open to having Trevor share the stage with them.

Bravo to one of our own!

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The 2013 annual "A Lehigh Valley Christmas in Concert," now in its 17th year, will be held Sunday at 7 p.m., at Miller Symphony Hall in Allentown, when the area's finest musicians perform renditions of their favorite holiday tunes in a variety of music genres including folk, jazz, Celtic or blues. Local performers include Zen for Primates, the James Supra Blues Band, Yancarlos Sanchez, Myron Haydt, Jake Kaligis, Blackwater, Dave Fry, Hector Rosado Y Ensemble Siete, Cunningham & Associates, Lucky 7, plus the signature All-Star Finale.

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Holiday happenings are in full swing at ArtsQuest in Bethlehem, with Christkindlmarkt running through Dec. 22 (closed Thanksgiving Day), at the PNC Plaza at SteelStacks.

Other events include the musical revue, "Christmas 1954," beginning Dec. 5 through 13, at the Musikfest Café. It takes the characters from "Christmas 1944" ten years forward. The Bang Group performs a twist on the traditional "Nutcracker" with the annual "NUT/Cracked" on Dec. 6, also at the Musikfest Café. The group is comprised of students from Muhlenberg College's dance department and the Lehigh Valley Charter School.

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Back by popular demand is The Cartoon Christmas Trio at the Reading Public Museum's "Jazz Under the Stars" on Dec. 5 at 7 p.m. The trio is celebrating its 18th anniversary in playing music from classic Christmas cartoons, in particular, the music of Vince Guaraldi, composer of the "Peanuts" soundtrack.

The trio includes founder/bassist Rob Swanson, pianist Jeff Knoettner and drummer Jackie Browne. All are professional, full-time musicians and educators in the Greater Philadelphia region. They've performed at the Kimmel Center, National Public Radio, and NBC's "The 10! Show."

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