Paint the Town with 3 Art Walks in Bethlehem

Courtesy southsideartsdistrict.com

Bethlehem brings artwork out in the open for all to enjoy. The city’s Southside is somewhat of an enclave for emerging and established artists. There are 3 art walks in Bethlehem that showcase the area’s talent making the works accessible for all. Take this opportunity to explore the city by foot. The Sayre Mansion is just steps away from all 3 art walks in Bethlehem. Stay overnight, leave your car here and see the artsy side of Christmas City.

Urban Arts Trail

This 2.75-mile self-guided trail links a diverse collection of public art displays in the Southside. There are 33 different stops on the Urban Arts Trail featuring everything from mosaics and murals to sculptures and repurposed bike racks. Planned in conjunction with the city’s economic development organization, the route is easy to walk with shops, restaurants and points of interest that make great stopping points. Plan to spend two to three hours strolling through the Southside Business District, taking photos and visiting some of the establishments along the way.

Southsideartsdistrict.com has an interactive map to guide you on the tour. The trail loops mostly between East Third and East Fourth Streets. A Welcome to Southside Mural at 10 W. Third Street marks the beginning of the journey. The metal fabricated letters grew out of a class project at Lehigh University and feature many city landmarks. The area around the Banana Factory is the focus for the first part of the Art Walk. Stop two is of particular note. Known as the Mr. Imagination Bus Shelter, the “grotto” like bus shelter was created by world-renowned artist Mr. Imagination. The structure is part mural, part sculpture and was made with the assistance of local youth in the Pennsylvania Career Link Program. Next, walk among the life-size sculptures located in the Banana Factory Courtyard. Entitled Homage to Humanity, the sculptures were created by artist Karel Mikolas. Take some time to see the other pieces placed around the Banana Factory before continuing. A stroll along Third Street reveals a number of giant murals. The façade of several businesses served as the canvas for artists here. A mural titled Steelworker was painted by Dripped on the Road, a traveling artist residency program, and was inspired by Bethlehem Steel. “Calma,” designed by artist Pau Quintanajornet is the largest and newest mural on the trail. It’s located on the exterior wall of Cafe the Lodge and highlights the cafe’s mission, which focuses on mental health recovery.

Art comes in all different, shapes, sizes and mediums. Along the Urban Arts Trail you’ll see unique examples of everyday items turned works of art. Molten Metal is a bike rack created by local artist Ethan Hahn that depicts a large vat pouring molten steel. The piece is a tribute to his father who worked at Bethlehem Steel. There’s also an artist designed phone booth. Devyn Briggs painted the one-time city staple in a cheerful Mondrian style. Another popular stop is the Lehigh-Bethlehem Chinese Pavilion. Lehigh University students modeled the structure after the Tang and Song periods to symbolize the spirit of people coming together for rest and reflection.

Lehigh University Outdoor Sculpture Collection

“The Temple” was built in 1987 by Mary-Ann Unger. It’s currently on display on Asa Packer Campus by the UC Front Lawn. (Kate Morrell/B&W Staff)

Lehigh University is just a mile from The Sayre Mansion. Although the college may be known for its engineering program, the campus

is also home to a vibrant art scene. The Outdoor Sculpture Collection located throughout campus boasts original works from the 1960s to today. The curated collection is carefully placed in its landscape. Sculptures range in size from understated to hulking. Each piece is unique in style, design, period and material. A walking guide available at luag.lehigh.edu/sites outlines the sites and lets visitors see works by George Segal, Henry Moore, Manuel Mendive and more. Notable pieces include “Trees,” a set of sculptures by Menashe Kadishman. Made of steel, the piece  has a weathered, whimsical appearance. “In a State of Rejuvenescence” by David Cerulli sits outside Zoellner Arts Center. The sculpture boasts colorful flames which represent classical muses. A stroll around the 1,600 acre campus offers many scenic sites and stunning architecture.

The Greenway ArtsWalk

The South Bethlehem Greenway is a popular two-mile paved trail. It follows the former Norfolk Southern rail line in the city’s south side from Lehigh University to Saucon Park. Much of the recreational trail is on former Bethlehem Steel property and passes by the now dormant steel stacks. Along the linear path, visitors will see an exhibition of 20 images that changes annually. The current exhibition is an extension of Lehigh University’s display of “Doing Democracy: Photography from the George Stephanopoulous Collection. The enlarged photos on display may be accompanied by an audio guide downloaded to your phone.

Artful Accommodationsconservatory bed and lounge area

To fully experience the 3 Art Walks in Bethlehem, immerse yourself in the beauty and heritage of the Lehigh Valley with a stay at The Sayre Mansion. The meticulously preserved 1858 landmark is a masterpiece of Victorian era architecture. Book The Conservatory for picture-perfect views of Bethlehem’s South Side from a ceiling made of glass. Room 20 was once part of the home’s library and boasts the original intricately carved gold leaf coffered ceiling. Browse all the accommodations and make your reservation today.