Fantasy meets fine dining

Marianne Caesar
Features Editor

While you go to dinner at the North Side Bistro, you are probably more concerned with the balance of meals you have left rather than the person swiping your ID card. Then you look up and see an intricate painting upon the wall, showing blues, purples and greens with a water horse known as a Kelpie with his mermaid friend. What you probably didn’t know is that the artist may have swiped your meal plan card for you.

Working at Millersville University since September, Kathy Rothenberger shares her artwork behind her work station. Being an avid drawer as a child, Rothenberger enjoyed spending her free time during high school in the art classroom and her summers in college-level art courses available through church sponsorship. Continuing her education at Kutztown University, Rothenberger earned a degree in Fine Arts and continued her interest in photography while picking up oil painting.

Presently, Rothenberger has roughly a dozen paintings in her studio, Raven Dance Studio, transitioning into their completion while she is displaying a group of beach themed paintings at Ocean Gallery in Cape May, N.J.

Marianne Caesar/Snapper
Rothenberger poses with her painting hung in North Side Bistro, titled Kelpie and Mermaid. -Marianne Caesar/Snapper

“I’ll always have a couple paintings going on at one time,” said Rothenberger. “In my paintings I have to go back and forth depending on my mood. It’s cathartic for me to paint. It has been my therapy all these years. I don’t need a counselor. I need a studio.”

Much of the inspiration for her art comes from nature and Celtic Mythology, specifically Elementals.

“Elementals are spiritual beings that are non-human or non-animal beings like demons, angels, fairies, gnomes and kelpies,” Rothenberger said. Ravens are included in her art, as one of her favorite birds, and are represented by the Celtic god, Morrigan. She even did a self-portrait incorporating Badhbh, the spiritual form of the raven which flew over the battlefields collecting souls of the dead to transition to the next plane of existence.

Expanding beyond Elementals, other subject matters Rothenberger enjoys making are portraits and animals, such as wolves in her winter painting. Using photos she took in accompaniment to her photographic memory and personal animal studies, her art comes to life.

Besides being inspired by nature, ancestry plays a large role in the work which Rothenberger creates. Though the majority of her husband and her’s lineage is German, Scottish-Irish history is prevalent within their family and her collections.

“My grandmother’s parents were from County Derry, Ireland, but our roots were traced back to Scotland,” said Rothenberger. “I have always been drawn to Scottish traditions within Celtic traditions. When you study Celtic lands, migration and so forth, you can find picked mounds and Celtic symbols as far south as Italy. The Celts really spread out through Europe. I really think we might have stronger roots than it shows.”

When she is not painting or swiping school ID cards, Rothenberger spends her free time learning to crochet, and fulfilling the role of co-founder for a paranormal investigation group. Presently, she is working on a photo book of the Charles Evans Cemetery, and a book about her experiences in childhood which led to becoming a paranormal investigator.