ArtsQuest Public & Community Art
PUBLIC ART AT THE BANANA FACTORY
Mr. Imagination Bus Shelter
World renowned outsider artist Mr. Imagination made his home in Bethlehem, PA for a few years in the early 2000’s. He was the first Banana Factory Artist in Residence. The bus shelter was created along with help from youth in the Pennsylvania CareerLink Program as a job skill training session. Young artists assisted Mr. I in the design the shelter and get approval from Northampton Transportation Authority. They received hourly pay while learning to take initiative and work as a team to complete the shelter from start to finish. Most of these youth were from the Southside area and see the shelter as a source of pride and a testament to the beloved Mr. Imagination who passed away in 2012.
“Joyful Experience” by Susan Small
The title “Joyful Experience” is in reference to the joy art-making brings to all who make, engage with, and love art! It is an exploration that lets you take your own path, following your own heart.
The sculpture was submitted by Susan Small for the Banana Factory’s first outdoor sculpture competition in 2002 and the artist was encouraged to secure funding to make the sculpture a reality. The Puffin Foundation supported the purchase of supplies and hardware to create the sculpture and the Skrivanek Family donated the money for the fabrication of the stainless steel armature in honor of Catherine and Gustave, who had been dedicated Musikfest volunteers. One thousand rings, or “donuts”, were made with the help of family, friends, and fellow artists.
Homage to Humanity by Karel Mikolas, July 2003
The composition consists of three figures. The first, the Muse (one of the Greed Goddesses), has inspired creativity over the centuries. Although she has endured continuous abuse, she remains intact, powerful, always able to inspire anyone who is interested in purposeful life and humanity. The second, the average citizen, is puzzled by her indomitable ability. The third figure is disengaged. The sculptures were sponsored by Air Products and Chemicals, Inc.
The Banana Factory was a proud partner for more than 13 years in the Banana Works Projects which flourished around the entire Lehigh Valley from 1998-2011. Professional artists who specialized in public art and teaching young adults worked with 9 participants in a job skills training program run by Pennsylvania CareerLink. Various community funders supported the program including Just Born, The Bethlehem Housing Authority and St Luke’s Hospital. Over the course of 6 weeks participants learned how to create sketches, present the work to the client and make alterations from that feedback. They then learned to paint or work with mosaics to create a stunning outdoor work of art from start to finish. Skills they learn is working with the team, accepting authority, arrive on time and positive attitude. Most of the participants were from the area in which the work was created, which created a continued sense of civic pride for everyone.
MURALS ACROSS BETHLEHEM
SteelWorker by Dripped on the Road on 24 E. Third Street (2017)
In 2017, in conjunction with the SouthSide Arts & Music Festival, Dripped on the Road ended a month-long traveling residency in Bethlehem where they visited 6 cities and completed 9 murals. Inspired by Bethlehem Steel, the mural of a Steel Worker was designed to highlight the past and the future of the SouthSide. The goal was to create something that reflected the city’s rich history, while also showcasing the work of talented artists DOTR Directors Denton Burrows and Jonathan Neville, Ramiro Davaro-Comas and Lauren Asta.
Steelworker, Tape Art Installation by Jay Walker (2017)
In 2017, Artist Jay Walker, debuted one of the largest works he has ever made, ‘The Steel Worker”, a 24’ tape installation, at the ArtsQuest Center. Inspired by the history of Bethlehem Steel and the workers who breathed life into it’s past, Jay created an installation that incorporated the uniform and clothing that were once worn by steel workers.
Chrome 1950’s Car by Lauren Kuhn (2017) at 65 East Elizabeth Ave
Commissioned by building owner Borko Milosev, the work took Resident Artist Lauren Kuhn approximately 25 hours to complete. The classic car is painted across two perpendicular brick walls giving off the illusion that it might just drive off the surface.
SouthBound by Matt Halm at 3rd & New St (2018)
This 15′ x 25′ exterior mural was created by Matt Halm as part of the 2018 South Side Arts & Music Festival. The work is inspired by the creative spirit and imagination of the growing art community on Bethlehem’s South Side.
Calma by Pau Quintanajornet on 427 East 4th Street (2019)
In partnership with Café the Lodge, Pau Quintanajornet completed Calma as part of the 2019 SouthSide Arts & Music Festival. The mural was a continuation of her “artivist” project “Project Wallflowers,” which she began in 2013. Pau met with local community members in advance to give feedback about the design.
The mural, which was supported by ArtsQuest, Café The Lodge, Resources for Human Development and Just Born, was completed in Pau’s signature style while highlighting Café The Lodge’s mission focused on mental health recovery.
RED BALL PROJECT (2018)
The Red Ball Project turned heads in Bethlehem in 2018. The traveling 15’ inflatable red ball had previously been exhibited in 25 different cities and would add Bethlehem to the list for Musikfest. On each day of the festival, the ball would be found in a new location in the city. The project was designed to draw attention to unexpected locations on the South Side. The project acted with the needs and the wants of the South Side by helping people experience the city in a different, and creative way.
ARTIST DESIGNED BIKE RACKS (2016-PRESENT)
A partnership between the City of Bethlehem and ArtsQuest, the bike racks were designed to encourage and inspire the community to get moving in style. The project was funded by Northampton County and the art was selected by a panel of representatives from ArtsQuest, SouthSide Arts District, Bethlehem Art Commission and the Coalition for Appropriate Transportation. Each Artist was given a $2,000 stipend to complete their projects. The bike rack project is a great way to incorporate functional art that benefits the artist and the city. They also continue to reflect the South Side’s ambition and character.
THE FOUR ELEMENTS (2012-PRESENT)
Located in the center of the ArtsQuest Center’s three-story-tall spiral staircase, The Four Elements is a dynamic work of art that features more than 900 custom-crafted glass pieces, each one made at ArtsQuest’s Hot Glass Studio at the Banana Factory, the only hot glass studio in the region. The work of art was designed by ArtsQuest glass studio artists John Choi and Dennis Gardner and took more than six months to create. Made possible through the gracious support of principal donors Hal and Terri Lubsen of Center Valley, The Four Elements weighs approximately 3,700 pounds and is illuminated by hundreds of LED lights, highlighting the unique characteristics of each piece of glass. The sculpture was created using a variety of glass making techniques including hot glass blowing, glass sculpting, flameworking and stained glass techniques.“With The Four Elements, we wanted to represent something that is universal to everyone while looking at it in a spiritual way,” says Choi, Glass Studio Director for the Hot Glass Studio at the Banana Factory. “It’s our hope that this work of art encourages people to think about what’s important in life – to celebrate life and being alive and appreciate everything that’s around us.”
THE BRIDGE (2011-PRESENT)
Elena Colombo’s: The Bridge, located at the SteelStacks, is an homage to the Bethlehem Iron Company. After the company’s close in 1995, the site was one of the largest brownfield sites in the country. In thinking about what was next for the city of Bethlehem, the city leaders decided the showcasing of the arts in the South Side would be most beneficial to the city. To address the challenges that the city was facing, they focused on creating a site-specific sculpture that would active the Town Square area of the SteelStacks campus, much like the stacks themselves would activate the city. By creating a one-of-a-kind public piece or art that commemorates the cities past and future, it showcases the arts as a force that can drive revitalization in all cities regardless of their history.
Emil Lukas: Optic Wall at SteelStacks (2017-2021)
One of the newest public art projects to be introduced to the SouthSide is the rotating sculpture space at SteelStacks. Located in front of the St. Luke’s Visitor Center, this dedicated space features a large-scale sculpture that changes annually, highlighting the work of artists and sculptors throughout the region. The sculpture base was installed and paid for by The Redevelopment Authority of the City of Bethlehem. Nationally renowned sculptor and 2017 Linny Award winner Emil Lukas was the first Sculptor-in-Residence to loan ArtsQuest a piece in Fall 2017. “Optic Wall” offers spectators a fresh perspective on their surroundings through its incredible multi-dimensional views.
Virginia Abbott: Blue Herons on the Bethlehem Greenway (2011-Present)
The Blue Heron is a community work created by Banana Factory Resident Artist Virginia Abbott. In 2011, the Mayor joined Sculptor Virginia Abbott, Lehigh University President Alice Gast and representatives of ArtsQuest and Community Action Development Corporation of Bethlehem to discuss public art that would be installed in the South Bethlehem Greenway. Ultimately, they decided on representing the Blue Heron because of the species historic presence in Bethlehem. The sculpture is made of many different materials including garden tools, household items, and smaller sculptures of animals assembled by Broughal Middle School students. The sculpture represents our history through our community.
Salma Arastu: Celebration of Life (2011-Present)
This beautiful sculpture was commissioned from Salma Arastu for the opening of the Visitor’s Center at SteelStacks presented by St. Luke’s Health Network in 2011. Salma’s work is lyrical, spiritual, figurative, and calligraphic. Her sculpture and paintings reveal stories of unity in diversity, peace and joy, celebration of life, and women and dancing whirling dervishes. Whether in paintings or sculptures, the faceless figures in her work represent the universal oneness of all humanity.
Steve Tobin: Romeo & Juliet (2014-2018)
Artist Steve Tobin is interested in the creative process of nature. So many are focused on analyzing the creative process of man, that we forget that there is immense beauty in the things that other creates, and nature itself can create effortlessly. In his work, Romeo & Juliet, he showcases just that. His sculptures are bronze casts of tree roots that he excavates completely. Because he uses bronze cast, these sculptures are free standing and presented to us as they would be in nature, almost as they’ve been lifted from the ground. He finishes the work with bright-red patina to make his work pop against the natural background, separating them from their natural habitat. In this way, and in others, the story of Romeo and Juliet comes alive – destined to be together, but forever apart.
Split Infinity by Jim West (2018)
Split infinity by Jim West is an inspirational piece about pushing boundaries. The sculpture of Einstein is both grounded and suspended from the ceiling. Einstein’s body is split at his midsection. From his waist up he is grounded into the floor, while his lower half is suspended from the ceiling. There is a rope attached to his ankle that he is also trying to climb using his upper body. This sculpture is a representation of challenging the mind to discover more through this idea of infinity. In his artist statement, Jim writes: “This piece represents Einstein pulling himself through that point, going beyond common knowledge and common sense at that time, and believing so much in one’s ideas that it takes us to another place.” The work was showcased for the first time in the ArtsQuest lobby in 2018, undoubtedly inspiring its many viewers to pull themselves through.
“Greetings from Bethlehem” (September 2019-January 2020)
Postcard Mural by Samantha Redles
Creativity Commons, ArtsQuest Center at SteelStacks
Created over ten days during Musikfest 2019, Samantha Redles of @humamade.signs captured the history and iconic landmarks that make up Bethlehem’s rich landscape. On display through the fall and holiday season, the 9 ft by 12 ft mural will make a perfect backdrop for visitors to capture memorable photographs.