Shots from the art show!

We had two great nights of a packed house! Thanks so much to Isaac Reynolds, Josh Randle, B.J. Parker, Bailey Reynolds, Andrew Staff, Jeff Dunn and Ryne Fuller for sharing your talents! Here’s some up close shots for you who couldn’t make it-



Isaac Reynolds-


Isaac Reynolds-


Josh Randle


Josh Randle


Bailey Reynolds-


Josh Randle


Josh Randle


Isaac Reynolds-


Andrew Staff-


B.J. Parker-


B.J. Parker-


B.J. Parker-


Jeff Dunn-

Ugliness forgotten! – a local eyesore becomes an art hotspot (and gets a new history.)

For one night on January 13th, 309 south main in small town Hillsboro, IL, will become a POP-UP haven of creativity.

On a trip to visit family, new-owners Devin and Emilie Moroney took the brave plunge last year ago to purchase this derelict building while still living in Denver, CO.  While leaving an art/food town behind is hard, the new blood in Hillsboro is on a path to create a mini scene of it’s own.


Two doors down from the site of Black Rabbit Coffee Roasters (and soon cafe, shhhhhhh!), the most exciting movie theatre in (at least) a few hundred miles, and a few mom and pop shops that show promise, the future is looking bright.

Before after final.jpg

This old building used to be the town’s most popular shoe store back in the day. Though there haven’t been lines of satisfied customers for a long time, this beauty is being brought to her former glory by yours truly and will have lines again this Friday for the second annual Small Town Cool/ Black Rabbit Coffee Roasters POP-UP art show!


Small Town Cool staffer JRandlephoto (ha ha..)

Local artists will include Josh Randle (Hillsboro), Andrew Staff (Carbondale), Isaac Reynolds (Hillsboro), Ryne Fuller (Coffeen native) , B.J. Parker (Greenville), and Bailey (Eisentraut) Reynolds (Hillsboro).


Greenville realist -B.J. Parker


Character and tiki artist Andrew Staff (Carbondale)


lo brow artist Isaac Reynolds (Hillsboro, IL)


Street and fashion artist Ryne Fuller (from Coffeen, IL)


Replacing the old storefront windows

So for any of you wanting to get a sneak peak of the space “in progress”, to drink coffee, see some Small Town Cool curated art, and talk with Devin and Emilie about their long term plans for the space, come this Friday to downtown Hillsboro, IL.

show opens- 6:00 309 South main street

Or check out the show facebook page here.

The Young Eyes and Small Town Cool collide!

My wife’s cousin is an award winning videographer (seriously, on both accounts!) We had worked with him on a documentary style video for my old band Brian Lee & His Orchestra and I gave him a call to see if we could do one having to do with what we are doing here in this small town… Funnest thing we did all year.

NEW SHOP! The Refinery-(a preview!)

Another sweet new shop is almost about to open in Hillsboro! Tomorrow from 11-4 Jamie Reid Sarceny is having a mini preview opening of her new shop “The Refinery” to coincide with Imagine Hillsboro’s “A storybook Christmas” on December 3rd.


You may remember a while back our work day for Jamie.  She is opening an antiques and funky-cool-old-stuff store in a building that has been, until her recent efforts, in danger of demolition.  The building was built in 1927 to house W.H. Doss upholstery and repair, and later Claude Grotts (the high school art teachers) private art studio.


I can already tell I’m going to be buying a lot at this sweet spot, only a minutes walk from where we live downtown.


Before… Work day photo via JRandlePhoto



the back of the building open to the sky during work day…


My first purchase at The Refinery… Keep your eyes open for the full opening @ Small Town Cool

Midnight milling at Tony Marcolini’s woodshop in the old industrial ice plant.

Tony called me up the other night with the kind of words I like to hear ; “I’m going to try something new on my CNC machine tonight. It may not work but it will be fun!”

Tony’s shop is in the old ice plant, an industrial building in Hillsboro. He has breathed life back into it’s beautiful bones removing dropped ceilings, repairing brickwork and putting the old place back into good use.  I love the concrete ceilings, and curved support beams, a design repeated in the downstairs of the building. The 16 foot ceilings don’t hurt either…img_2536


Tony setting up the CNC router to run a free chair design found on


The first of the one and a half sheets of plywood it took to make the chair.  Since this was a trial run he cut it out of builder grade plywood but a final version will be higher grade material.


Tony and his wife Jennifer setting up for the fit up of the chair. Together they run Marcolini Inc. Tony’s custom renovation and carpentry business.


After ninety minutes of milling time and, ehem… a bit longer of all of us all head scratching and fitting this thing together, (I’m guessing) the first computer printed chair in Hillsboro’s history rolls of the presses!



This is a guy who has a lot going on an loves to tackle all kinds of projects. The huge industrial lamp is a recent project. He also loves making belt driven fans, and all kinds of other stuff. Not to mention running a prolific business and doing a darn good job of it.



A gift for Recess brewing in Edwardsville.



Another great example of people in our town doing cool and interesting things… Despite it being freezing cold and staying super late, I left this place of creation invigorated and inspired-

Trash or treasure? The mind-boggling culture show that is midwest auction culture.

You’re eying a Spuds Mackenzie lamp, amid a table of buckles, glassware, a knife collection, and a bronze casting of three horses holding a glass ball…  It’s hot, smelly, and weird, but for some reason you are totally loving it.  One of the biggest shock-thrills of moving from the city to this small town was diving into the culture of the mid-west auction.


Ok, first of all there are a few rules

Rule #1 -Don’t act stupid

Rule #2 -Act like a badass

Rule #3 -Don’t get ripped off, or else then you’re stupid and also, not a badass anymore.

Let me explain- Ok, so there’s this friend C.K… He goes to an auction wanting to buy this pretty nice couch that he actually needs. S.H. another friend asks him “how much are willing to bid?”. “200 bucks”, says C.K..  Comes time for the auction, and the auctioneer asks “anybody want to start me off?” ” Two hundred bucks”, says C.K. confidently.  No one else says a thing. “SOLD”, says the auctioneer…

Boom!  C.K. broke all three… So what went wrong?

Auctioneers have tricks.  LOTS of them. Here’s a few I’ve noticed.

-The “this just sold on ebay for $2,000” – The thing you’re looking at is thrashed, not a first addition, or “unopened in the box” and definitely not worth $2,000!

-The “anybody want to start me off?” I once yelled “$100” at the same time as someone else yelled “$3,000!”  (The most embarrassing moment in my auctioning career, maybe my life! C.K.)  Wait a few minutes while the auctioneer says “$1,000?… $500… $100?… $50?”. Then quickly, without smiling raise your hand and say “YUP!” and start it off.

-The “Ghost Bidder”- This one is harder to spot (never, EVER! accuse an auctioneer of this), and really good ring runners know when they can get away with it.  The auctioneer points at you and says “30!” points somewhere else and says “40!” points back at you and says “50!” to which you quickly nod, out bidding “the ghost”.

-Also, I would add, decide ahead of time what price you are going to stop at, then confidently and quickly bid all the way up to that number like you’re never going to stop. You may actually scare them off early and get a deal!


Auctioning can be fun, heart pounding, and can actually yield some cool things!  Make sure to listen in on as many crazy conversations as you can. (most of the ones that come to mind are unprintable now that I think of it ha ha..) and try to bring a friend (it can be a waiting game!)


If you want to try auctioning out for yourself check out  Just put in your zipcode and you can check out tons of photo’s of treasure and garbage alike… Or if you live around here, check out Harman Auction. If you’re wondering, the Spuds Mackenzie sold for $125. I didn’t buy it.  And C.K… he waits for the low number nowadays.

 -Small Town Cool-

Photo’s by Jrandlefoto

The neo-farmhouse

I love the idea of a modern functioning farmhouse… The idea that a hard working, practical place, can still be modern, and beautiful.  Here’s a clean sunroom addition that I did with my brother in law Seth Huber for a local 2nd generation farm family.






I’d love to do a design/renovation of an orchard with barns into cabins or something that people could stay in a really modern style. Wouldn’t you? Like this one via-


check out 19 more cool barn conversions here.

Any one know of any local families with really interesting houses? I’d love to feature some! Hope you are all having some fun, getting some rest, and finding projects to do this summer!

livin la vida loca in Hillsboro,IL

-Small Town Cool-

Made in Hillsboro-Alien table by Chris Swed and Aaron Ruppert


Here’s a little peek into the underground creative scene in Hillsboro… Nearing completion, The “Alien” table, a project local Chris Swed designed and collaborated on with metalworker extraordinaire Aaron Ruppert.


Any of you guys seen dune? This just reminds me of that scene so hard…


Neato… Keep it up dudes.