[sws_picture_frame30 src=”http://bloomfield-garfield.org/wp-content/uploads/2011/11/community-members-christine-bethea.png” title=”” alt=”Christine Bethea” align=”sws_frame_left” lightbox=”” album=”album” video=””] [/sws_picture_frame30]

Peering in the window of ARTica, an “arts emporium” at 5110 Penn Avenue, you might spot anything from a chest that belonged to former Steelers coach Bill Cowher to books on tattoo art to paintings by local artists to vintage clothing. Owner Christine Bethea, a found-object artist who opened ARTica with Brenda Brown, says she likes the “soup to nuts” feel of her shop. She first came to the neighborhood around 2000, when she and Brown mounted several large art shows, including the first Art Cubed at the Bloomfield-Garfield Community Activity Center. They became so familiar with the neighborhood that staff at Friendship Development Associates (FDA) said, “You need to open something” on the avenue, prompting the birth of ARTica. Bethea calls the feeling along the corridor a “pioneer spirit,” and says she finds the level of cooperation “amazing.” That cooperation made possible one of the projects she’s proudest of – the exciting and popular annual event, Geek Art/Green Innovators (GA/GI) Festival. In addition, Bethea is now a board member of FDA, a partner of the BGC.