In January 2018, veteran Shawn Gold embarked on a visionary quest, breathing life into Coexist Glass Gallery—an endeavor transcending the traditional concept of a store. It was a dream aimed at uniting the community through art and shared experiences, even though initial efforts to garner support proved challenging, over time, Coexist has flourished into a vibrant Glass Gallery, a haven for glass-blown art, functional glass, crystals of all sizes, masks, metaphysicals, incense, books, and tarot cards. From intricate masterpieces to charming trinkets, the diverse offerings earned Coexist the esteemed title of Central PA’s Best Art Attraction for 2023 by Pennlive’s PA Picks.
The metamorphosis of the old Lions Club building into a captivating piece of art was a laborious yet deeply fulfilling process. Shawn’s dedication to making art accessible to the community is evident in the entire store front and sides, now adorned in a mesmerizing glass mosaic. International artists were invited to conduct free workshops and teach local artists, shaping not just art but also instilling a sense of ownership within the community. Coexist transcends the boundaries of a conventional store; it is an ongoing giant art project both inside and out. A new lounge area and the Melting Pot coffee shop, are underway. In 2024, all functional glass and accessories will have its own private room, allowing the main area to focus more on art and community events such as open mic nights and art classes, enhancing its appeal as a family-friendly destination.
A distinctive feature upon entering is the captivating array of masks, courtesy of Jeff Semmerling, a renowned mask maker from Chicago. With a rich history of his masks gracing Broadway and opera stages, Jeff’s artistic journey began in 1981 at the Blackbird Theater in Baltimore. Leather is his primary material, and his masks are not just visual transformations but also a means for individuals to explore new realms of their personalities. Jeff’s dedication extends beyond his craft; he actively engages in teaching, through workshops at summer camps and schools. Wanting cheaper ways to create for kids, Jeff’s artistic exploration has seen him transition from leather masks to cardboard, opening up avenues for bigger more immense works . This journey led to the creation of larger, more permanent pieces using fiberglass, showcasing the diversity of his skill set. Known for his ability to turn dreams into reality, Jeff welcomes custom work, tailoring masks to individual preferences. His influence extends beyond the gallery, with plans to offer classes in the future, ensuring the legacy of his craft lives on.
Coexist’s hosts a free admission open mic night on the first and third Thursdays of each month, hosted by Jason Mescia, they have a raised stage area complete with drum kit, keyboards, amps and ample seating and hangout area. Its open to all ages and you can expect to hear some great live music, along with maybe some poetry and comedy thrown in the mix. With free coffee and snacks provided, stop down and join in on the fun.
Last summers farmers market, a weekly event, is a testament to Coexist’s dedication to providing fresh produce to the local community. Plans for a raised/box style garden along with compost area for next summer, surrounding the parking area are in the works. Themed as a community therapy garden, where people can volunteer and learn about basic gardening skills, as Coexist continues to strive for community sustainability and wellness.
Engaging with social issues, Coexist actively supports Helping The Harrisburg Family, a charity organization helping Harrisburg’s homeless. By providing food donations along with creating a homeless outreach event with portable showers, laundry services, and a meal coming in 2024. The Coexist Community Excellence Award is a testament to their commitment, honoring local Steelton residents advancing the community. In 2023, individuals such as Natashia Woods, borough council member; Barbara Barksdale, a local historian; and Tiphanie Savage, a prominent community member, were recognized for their significant contributions.
Shawn is always planning his next event like the recent Halloween party that featured performances by The Screaming Egrets and Roux. With a huge heated enclosed tent, along side a 25 foot Stay Puff Marshmallow Man. With the immense rooftop tent in place, Shawn will host an Outdoor Christmas Fire and Ice party on December 15th and 16th. The tent will be transformed into a winter wonderland with frozen ice sculpting alongside the flames of glass blowing. Attendees can participate in mask making, enjoy food, live music, and revel in the holiday spirit.
As visitors immerse themselves in the festive ambiance, Coexist beckons them to explore the store for unique Christmas gifts. From glass ornaments to crystals, masks, metaphysicals, incense, books, and tarot cards, Coexist offers a diverse selection. The friendly and knowledgeable staff is always ready to assist, be sure to ask about Myra’s Jewelry, a local artist and employee who loves to create art.
Myra’s Jewelry adds a distinctive touch to Coexist’s offerings. Myra transforms discovered pieces into crystal jewelry, creating unique and special pieces to suit individual styles. Each piece holds a story, and Myra’s creativity breathes new life into found treasures, ensuring they become cherished adornments for those seeking something truly unique.
As Coexist Glass Gallery continues to evolve, Shawn’s dedication to expanding the inventory ensures that there will always be something new to see, including a new vinyl record section in the near future. With various holiday sales and a 10 percent discount for medical card holders (certain restrictions apply), Coexist Glass Gallery is not just a destination; it’s a dynamic experience that continues to grow and surprise. Check them out on Facebook at Coexist Gallery Steelton and on the web at Coexistgallery.com, and step into a world where art, community, and the holiday spirit coexist harmoniously.