Sam Hankin: The Renaissance man for the literary, artistic set

New art gallery opens.

The man behind Chester County’s newest art gallery – Other Colors Gallery – pretends to know nothing of art or for that matter, the local art scene.  In fact, in this economy, one may wonder if Sam Hankin is a bit nuts until one actually visits the gallery.  Its location in the Hankin Group community known as Eagleview will no doubt be part of its sustaining power.  No “stand-alone” business in a strip mall, Other Colors  is likely to bring the arts community together as its activities intertwine with Hankin’s other business, the Wellington Square Bookshop next door.

As Hankin describes his new gallery, designed to reflect the Hankin Group’s focus on green and sustainable development,  “I’d rather bring a community together than have another dry cleaner or grocery store.”

While the bookshop resembles an old-time curiosity shop of books, complete with cozy nooks devoted to rare literary fiction and a children’s reading area and café, Other Colors takes on a contemporary, urban vibe  with its 20-foot high ceiling, blondish bamboo floor and LED lighting.  

The gallery, which had a grand opening in May that drew hundreds of guests to a catered affair, has so far focused on the abstract, off-beat and contemporary work rather than the traditional landscapes of the so-called Brandywine School of painting.  The current show, “Pairs,” is a case in point, bringing together artists depicting what Hankin describes as the most “figurative” of the fruits – the pear.

On a recent visit, Hankin,  who studied and practiced law for 30 years in Gainesville, Florida before joining his brothers, Bob and Richard Hankin, in the family business, pointed out the exacting details of the gallery including the “fake” air condition vent lining one wall of the gallery – put there to balance the real vent on the opposite hall.

In a wide-ranging interview, Hankin spoke of his passion for books (evident at an early age when he read with a flashlight under the bed sheets and, at 12, wrote to John UpDike, about a story he didn’t understand and received a reply),  and how that led to book collecting,  and then opening the book store (which carries rare books) partly to downsize. 

 Rarely without his eReader,  Hankin feels compelled to keep up with the latest literary release and book news partly as a way of preparing for his weekly radio program, “The Avid Reader.” 

The show is broadcast every Monday afternoon from at 5 p.m. on the West Chester-based AM station WCHE 1520.  But it is the show’s availability as a podcast on iTunes, Hankin said, that has been the key to its far-ranging popularity with publishers and writers.

As radio host, Hankin typically impresses his guests with close readings of their work – he especially likes to read a book’s epigram for clues to the writers’ intent – but it also doesn’t hurt, Hankin suspects, that the interviews are conducted over the phone.   

Whether they are folding laundry or lounging in bed,  his guests tend to open up to  Hankin and have ranged from  Pulitzer prize-winning authors to  those whose work has appeared on the front page of the New York Times book review such as Jean Thompson, author of The Year We Left Home and Karen Russell, author of Swamplandia!

Tonight,  one of Hankin’s past radio guests, Michael Sims, will appear, this time in person, at the bookstore for a reading and signing of his latest book, The Story of Charlotte's Web.

 Hankin said that in preparation the bookstore has been giving out paperback copies of E.B. White’s Charlotte’s Web so that children in the community will be encouraged to take part in a reading with Sims.   The bookstore’s fans and their children were also encouraged to bring original drawings or stories to tonight’s event. 

“People always tell me, `You are so busy with the bookstore, the radio and now the art gallery,” Hankin said, “But really, to me, it seems like I don’t do anything. To me it’s not work, it’s fun.”

Book signing:


  • Where:  Wellington Square Bookshop, 543 Wellington Square, Exton, PA  19341
  • Date: Tonight, July 28, 2011
  • Time: 7 to 9 p.m.

Enjoy an enchanting evening and a book signing with Michael Sims, whose new biography of E.B. White, The Story of Charlotte's Web, has been featured on NPR and in USA

Features Michael Sims, author of the much praised book, The Story of Charlotte's Web,  will part of a special signing event  including a book giveaway.  Families: have your child bring us a drawing or a story about Charlotte's Web anytime this summer and receive a special prize!

Website:  www.WellingtonSquareBooks.com


  • Price:: Free


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