Teresa O’Neill Haag coming to Phoenixville was a true gift to the community.
If you don’t recognize the name, you definitely recognize her work. Teresa is the ironic artist who gave to the town the two massive wall murals — Welcome to Phoenixville and Gateway on Gateway. Her work also can be found on the walls of Phoenixville Borough Hall. She has also painted a wall mural in nearby Schwenksville. You would think the train is real and coming right at you.
Teresa and her two sisters came from a very modest family rooted in Rochester, N.Y. She attended a local community college and studied art and then went on to University of Phoenix where she received a degree in marketing. She met Eric Haag while working at Bausch & Lomb, starting out as friends. It took four years and one volleyball game to become a couple.
Teresa relocated with her job to the Bensalem area in 2006. While Teresa was taking some drawing classes at Bucks Community College, she met Cameron McMillan, a teacher at the college who became Teresa’s mentor. Gifted with a natural talent, Teresa sharpen her sketching skills while broadening her talent, expertise and new avenues of work.
Teresa and Eric went to Paris and Munich for their honeymoon in 2007 and returned to Paris and London for their 10th anniversary. They moved to Phoenixville in 2011 and reside on the northside of town (over the high bridge), close enough for Teresa to walk to her studio on Gay Street.
There are 8-year-old Owen and 7-year-old Ryan. Owen seems to have taken on his mother’s talent, while Ryan is a great reader and lover of music. Eric works in operations at Ferrandino and Son in Audubon and is a great sports enthusiast.
For the future, Teresa is looking forward to her solo exhibit in West Chester on April 13. She is expanding her studio on Gay Street, which was originally housed in one of her three bedrooms, to not only a first-floor studio but to the second floor with possible plans to offer classes and workshops.
Most of Teresa’s work on the wall murals in done while in a cherry picker, and — are you ready for this — she has a fear of heights. To overcome this phobia, (somewhat) Total Rental of Kimberton gave her rides on the equipment.
Teresa and her family with an open heart have embraced Phoenixville. The town has definitely reaped the rewards of having her and her family.
TERESA’S FAVORITE MAC & CHEESE
4 cups of dried medium-size shells
1 egg beaten
¼ cup butter
¼ cup all-purpose flour
2½ cups whole milk
1 tbsp. ground mustard
1 lb. white extra sharp cheddar cheese
½ lb. gruyere cheese
½ tsp. salt and pepper to taste
½ tsp. seasoned salt to taste
Cook shells according to package until very firm. Beat egg in a small bowl. In a large pot, melt butter and sprinkle with flour. Whisk constantly together over medium heat for five minutes; do not burn. Pour in milk. Add mustard, and whisk until smooth. Cook for five minutes until very thick. Reduce heat to low. Take ¼ cup of sauce and slowly pour into beaten egg. Whisk constantly to avoid cooking egg. Whisk together until smooth. Pour egg mixture into sauce, whisking constantly until smooth. Add cheese,a nd stir to melt. Add salt, pepper and seasoned salt; do not under salt. Add drained cooked shells, and continue to stir thoroughly. Pour into a lightly greased baking dish. Top with extra cheese. Bake in 350-degree oven for 20 to 25 minutes until top is bubbly and golden.
Let Bette Banjack hear from you: firstname.lastname@example.org. Search YouTube for “Look Who’s Cooking with Bette Banjack,” as well phoenixvillenews.com (search bar: Banjack) for this column. Find Bette on Facebook by searching “Bette Banjack’s Downtown Kitchen.” Her book, “2 Cups of Yesterday,” is available at Gateway Pharmacy or by contacting her.