Alumni Earn 'Best of Philly' Honors from 'Philadelphia' Magazine

Skateboard illustrator Dave Rankin, Bucks County sculptor Lisa Naples, salon owner Justin Mitchell earn commendations in the publication's annual ratings of the city's 'best of the best'

August 19, 2010

University of the Arts alumni Dave Rankin '94 (Illustration), Lisa Naples MFA ex '86 (Sculpture) and Justin Mitchell '01 (Sculpture) each earned "Best of Philly" commendations in Philadelphia Magazine's annual guide to the region's "best of the best" in a wide range of categories from restaurants and art galleries to landscaping companies and romantic first-date venues. "Best of Philly" recipients are "the movers, shakers, winners, players and ideas that made our year," the publication claims.

Rankin, who owns Effigy, a West Chester-based company specializing in skateboard decks, was honored as the "Best Street Artist" for his "spooky, moody" skateboard decks that the magazine referred to as "mad rad." With the goal to "make the sickest art decks ever," Rankin utilizes American-made, seven-ply maple for the decks. Rankin, a former Illustration faculty member at the University, and his business partners created Effigy in the winter of 2009 and launched the brand in January.

A sculptor based in Bucks County, Naples, who took graduate courses at the University in the 1980s, was honored as the "Best Gallery Artist."The magazine noted, "We always liked (Naples') deviled-egg plates and cookie jars, but then she hit her late 40s and veered into weird, haunting figurative sculpture, like 'Bird Mama Queen,' [below, left] that we absolutely love. Naples's faces, especially, are unforgettably human – and evocative. If this is what growing up does, bring it on." She is the founder of the Elephant's Eye Studio Tour, a non-profit educational organization and event showcasing nationally and internationally acclaimed Bucks County-based contemporary artists each May.

Mitchell and his fiancée Karina Restrepo own Rittenhouse Square's Tierra Mia Organic Nail Salon, which was recognized with a "Best of Philly" honor for "nails" in the "Shades of Green: Everything you need to be eco-chic" category. "Water-based products and polishes are the tools of Restrepo's trade. The long-lasting pedi will set you back a few bucks more than it would elsewhere, but the health benefits (and leg massages) are worth it," read the salon's commendation. Mitchell is the salon's business coordinator and has made a commitment to creating a safe alternative that sets a new precedent for nail spas around the nation.

Above: Rankin's "Reptilian" skateboard deck.

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