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Sharing her art and her heart

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    Tamaqua High School graduate Susan (Chickilly) Sidoriak will present a one-woman art show at the Tamaqua Community Art Center during September. Tonight is opening night. An artist meet and greet will begin at 6:30 p.m. Scan this photo with the Prindeo app for a video. KATHY KUNKEL/TIMES NEWS

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    Every runner has a story. Sidoriak’s art exhibit will share the stories behind the photos. KATHY KUNKEL/TIMES NEWS

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    This photo was taken at the finish line of the 2017 Philadalephia Marathon. Look for Erin Daniel’s reason for running at

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    The starting line at many a marathon gets filled with what becomes abandoned warm up gear. Volunteers collect the clothing and distribute it to the homeless.

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    This runner crossed the finish line at the 2015 Philadalephia Marathon, running in honor of his deceased friend.

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    Sidoriak uses runners’ bib numbers to track down her subjects, looking for the stories behind their runs. In some photos, such as this one the numbers aren’t readily available.

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    This runner credits her partner for her ability to cross the finish line at the 2016 Boston Marathon, saying, “He was there, at the exact moment I collapsed to catch and hold me up. And he’ll be there through every training season if I’m lucky.”

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    After successfully completing a marathon, this runner has his time tattooed on to his arm. He was able to improve his time at this marathon.

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    Reactions vary after a marathon, running the gamut of emotions. Every runner has their own story. Tamaqua native Susan Sidoriak uses her passion for photography to capture those emotions. PHOTOS COURTESY SUSAN SIDORIAK

Published September 06. 2018 12:20PM

It all began with doodles.

Susan (Chickilly) Sidoriak grew up in Tamaqua, where she spent a lot of time on her grandfather’s side porch.

The duo would pass the time creating drawings. They would each start with a piece of paper and a squiggle. They would exchange their squiggles and add to them.

“My grandfather always looked at my drawings in amazement, saying I’d astonish the world with my artwork one day,” Sidoriak remembers.

Her love of art grew throughout her years at Tamaqua Area High School, as did her love for running.

“I started running in high school and I’ve never stopped,” says the woman who completed the Boston Marathon earlier this year.

After graduating high school in 1989, Sidoriak attended art school in Philadelphia, pursuing a career in graphic design and photography. She and a friend opened their own boutique, Silverbox Creative Studio in Collegeville, just one month after her grandfather, her rock and most ardent supporter, passed away.

“He left me with the strength I needed to be passionate in whatever I do,” she says.

Sidoriak considers running to be her own personal form of meditation.

“I clear my mind as I run and ideas come to me. It’s the best form of therapy and it’s free,” she says.

While she enjoys crossing the finish line after a marathon, she also enjoys snapping photos of other runners crossing that line.

“Every runner has a story behind why they run.”

With that thought in mind, her two passions came together. Sidoriak began tracking down the marathoners she photographed to see if they would be willing to share their stories.

Most were, and the end result is Sidoriak’s inaugural art exhibit, which opens tonight at the Tamaqua Community Art Center.

The exhibit will feature 26 black-and-white photographs, one for each mile of a 26.2 mile marathon.

The artist wanted to have her first exhibit in Tamaqua because it’s where she began developing her passions.

Tamaqua is also where her heart is, both figuratively as well as literally. She was one of the artists who participated in the art center’s Tamaqua Has Heart initiative.

Her designed heart, covered with photos of her hometown, is permanently placed in front of the Tamaqua ABC High Rise, 222 E. Broad St.

As for the doodles, they resulted in her drawing a map of her favorite early morning run. She turned that map into a piece of art and shared it with her running partners.

They immediately recognized the “doodle” for what it was.

A second business venture, the Side Porch, was created, dedicated to running, marathons and her grandfather.

Both websites include blogs where stories are shared.

To read those stories, visit or

The gallery at the art center, located at 125 Pine St., Tamaqua, will open at 6:30 p.m. today. Light refreshments will be served.









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