Local artist opens store with ‘a little bit of edge’ in downtown Philipsburg

Staci Egan has been a jewelry artist for almost two decades, but she’d never truly had her own space for making art.

That changed about five years ago when her oldest child started at Penn State and Egan’s husband David started making reclaimed wood art for extra revenue to dedicate toward college. The couple then set out to find a large studio space where they could practice their craft.

This weekend, the Egans are unveiling Smith and Front, an art studio, shop and gallery space located at 5 N. Front St. in Philipsburg. An open house will be held Friday and Saturday from 10 a.m. to 6 p.m.

The Egans, who live in Stormstown, were drawn to the character and low cost of the buildings in Philipsburg. Staci originally started looking in State College to rent space for a studio “because for some reason I thought that’s where I needed to be.”

But she found many of the spaces were out of her price range and most places didn’t call her back. Discouraged, she stumbled upon a video the Philipsburg Revitalization Corporation posted on their page.

“They talked about wanting small businesses here, coffee shops, and one of the words they used was ‘artists’ and for some reason that just really spoke to me,” she said.

A customer looks at earrings from Staci Egan’s Contempo Jewelry line at Smith and Front, a new art studio and gallery in downtown Philipsburg. Staci Egan Photo provided

Staci has been making jewelry full time for eight years, and mostly worked out of her home. But “there were days, even weeks, where I didn’t see people,” she said, and craved a space where she could interact with others in a community setting.

“I came to Philipsburg ... I loved a lot of the old decorative features that are here that you really don’t find in State College and if you do, you really have to pay a premium,” she said. “(In Philipsburg), they wanted me here.”

The Egans’ new space features exposed brick, tin ceilings and old hardwood floors. Said Staci: “It’s not the type of place where a man might get ‘dragged into’ by his wife and then feel uncomfortable. It has a good balance between the aesthetic that should appeal to both men and women.”

David’s work “can be very vibrant yet rustic,” said Staci. There’s an “almost ‘70s cabin feel to a lot of his work.”

Reclaimed wood art on display at Smith and Front, a new art studio and gallery in downtown Philipsburg owned by husband and wife artists David and Staci Egan. Staci Egan Photo provided

Staci, owner of Contempo Jewelry, specializes in wire working techniques that feature semi-precious stones, freshwater pearls, brass, sterling, copper and gold fill, she said. She’s getting more into metalworking with her jewelry now.

At Smith and Front, other products are for sale in addition to the Egans’ work, many of them curated from art shows and small shops around the country.

“In addition to ourselves being makers ... all of our inventory is made by people — a lot of them are in Pennsylvania, if not, it’s still in America,” said Staci. “... The space that we have is so much bigger than we need that we just thought we would try this small marketplace for the holiday season.”

The Egans are looking forward to meeting more people in Philipsburg and integrating into the community through their shop.

“We’re really hopeful that we’re meeting some needs for people that are just looking for something a little more ... there’s a little bit of edge that we don’t see a lot in this area,” she said.

As part of their opening weekend, the Egans are running a $100 gift certificate giveaway that can be redeemed in store for the next 90 days. To enter, customers must make a purchase at Smith and Front. A winner will be announced Monday.

To view art for sale and on display at Smith and Front, visit their page @smithandfront on Instagram.

Sarah Paez covers Centre County communities, government and town and gown relations for the Centre Daily Times. She studied English and Spanish at Cornell University and grew up outside of Washington, D.C.