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    Art Works: Meet Creatives From The Bethlehem Community

    From the fine art galleries at Lehigh University to 18th century Moravian scrolls to an unearthed ancient Egyptian percussion instrument, our thriving arts community provides us with countless opportunities to be moved and inspired by art in all of its wondrous forms. Whether a favorite photo or a beautifully written quote makes you smile, a complex painting causes you to pause, or a unique performance finds you laughing and dancing all at once, those feelings are beautiful reactions to our local arts scene—and we have artists like the ones featured here to thank.

    Daniel Watts – Independent Artist


    Motivated by the joy and pleasure of creating, Daniel Watts started drawing at age 4 with crayons and pencils and found he could copy what he saw. But the real joy came later, when he discovered he could paint what he didn’t see. “Though I still spend a lot of time looking closely at the world, my work is born out of my imagination,” says Daniel.


    For more than 30 years, Daniel has been creating contemporary oil paintings on canvas—more than 800 of them, and counting. They are sweeping, complex paintings that speak of stillness, imagination, and wonder.


    Painting out of his Wilson Avenue studio (which is open to the public by appointment), Daniel can also be found leading discussions and workshops about art and creativity in the community. He works with galleries, designers, and private and corporate collectors both nationally and internationally, and is represented locally at Brownstone Design on Broad Street in Bethlehem.


    Because of his unique ability to create site-specific pieces and focus on client relationships, Daniel is often commissioned to paint for particular locations, in both residential and corporate settings. “I enjoy what comes out of the discussions,” he says. “It’s a mutual exchange that helps the work come to be.”


    “In the end, my wish is to find beauty,” Daniel says. “And the challenge is, can I be still enough, courageous enough, and open enough to receive it? As creatives we need to discover the power of wonder, and of feeling comfortable with not knowing.”


    Offering: Contemporary paintings from small to large scale. Commissioned work for both residential and commercial clients, art consultation, and workshops for beginners through developed artists.

    Tim Frankenfield & Michelle Chrin – Market & High Co.


    Tim Frankenfield and Michelle Chrin,  co-founders of the glass studio Market & High Co., have a collective 35 years of experience in the art and design industries. Tim has been blowing glass for nearly 20 years, and Michelle has spent her career in advertising and design. “We are continuously inspiring and challenging one another—playing off of each other’s strengths,” says Tim.


    Dedicated to producing American-made products that embrace a timeless and classic design ethos, their careful deliberation and dedication results in the creation of original, one-of-a-kind pieces. “It’s that common ground between Tim’s ability to execute in a variety of mediums combined with my passion for design aesthetics that is reflected in every product we produce.”


    Tim was instantly drawn to glassblowing in college at Temple’s Tyler School of Art. He fell in love with the process. “There’s no putting it down and walking away,” he says. “It requires patience and dedication. You can create something graceful, delicate, and elegant out of the gritty; it’s fire and sand in an intense process.”


    The hand-blown glass products available at Market & High Co. are simple and classic. “Glass doesn’t need to be loud,” says Michelle. “It’s a truly beautiful material without all of the glitz. We let the material speak for itself. Simplicity can really be superior.”


    Offering: A unique collection of high-quality handblown glassware including art glass, streamlined vessels and vases, glassware, lighting, and fully custom pieces.

    Matt Kriner – Rustik Rehab Design


    Rustik Rehab Design owner Matt Kriner designs and builds custom furniture from reclaimed materials. A craftsman and artist, Matt is also a translator, creating unique designs tailored to each customer’s specific needs and vision. “It’s important to have the customer be involved from the beginning to the end of the whole process,” says Matt. “Building custom pieces allows us to make sure your project is a perfect fit with a one-of-a-kind story and piece of history.”


    Working for a master craftsman opened Matt’s eyes to the process of coming up with an idea, sketching it on paper, and figuring out how to construct it with his own hands. He is inspired by the Lehigh Valley’s rich history to discover reclaimed and salvaged materials to bring ideas to life. “Our ancestors worked much harder and much smarter than we do to build the lives they lived,” says Matt. “Seeing and learning from their craftsmanship and other woodworkers motivates me to do better.”


    Matt started Rustik Rehab three years ago as his “side hustle”, working nights and weekends in his backyard. Now it’s a full-time job, full-time passion, and full-time working shop.


    Having turned his own passions into a successful business, Matt encourages others to pursue their dreams too. “There are always reasons not to do something, but only you can build the life you really want,” he says.
    “Surround yourself with good people that support you and go for it!”


    Offering: Custom furniture and decor from locally reclaimed and salvaged materials, including farm-style tables, barn doors, residential bars, restaurant pieces, and more.

    Giulissa Principe – Paperloveme Calligraphy


    Giulissa Principe—calligrapher, designer, maker, and creator of all things at Paperloveme Calligraphy—has been perfecting her handwritten art since she learned how to write. “I was the nerd in school who would write school notes in fast and messy handwriting and then would have to re-write the lesson in a neat, cursive handwriting form in my official subject notebook,” she recalls. “You know color-coded, underlined, and italic titles? That was me.”


    For 15 years, Giulissa worked in Supply Chain and Logistics, moving up the corporate ladder. But she was stressed out without a true creative outlet. One day, the art of modern calligraphy caught her attention. She started practicing and fell in love. Giulissa never put the pen down. Calligraphy brought her peace and expression, and of that realization Paperloveme was born.


    In addition to her calligraphy and original watercolor illustrations, Giulissa teaches calligraphy and art workshops. “I make pretty things for people to enjoy, and I love teaching how to do it,” she says.


    “It is important to me that my work translates to a sentiment,” she says. “Whether it is making a bride cry
    of happiness because her wedding stationery turned out exactly how she wanted it, or by calming the frustration of my students when they are having trouble with their tools, making that kind of impact on someone’s life is what Paperloveme is about.”


    Offering: Elegant calligraphy and hand-lettering services for weddings, private events, and business design. Watercolor illustrations and calligraphy workshops.

    George Hrab – Independent Musician


    While many Lehigh Valley residents know George Hrab as the dynamic drummer and Musical Director of the Philadelphia Funk Authority, not all know of his full breadth as an entertainer: George is also a singer, songwriter, guitarist, piano player, recording artist, lecturer, podcaster, event emcee, and author.


    It’s his father he credits for planting the seed, by giving George drum lessons at age seven, and instilling in him a love for all types of music. That love led to learning guitar and then piano, which resulted in eventually amassing a repertoire that spans everything from Gershwin to Gaga.


    Although George has traveled the world—sometimes entertaining thousands of people at a time—it’s performing in intimate settings for a handful of listeners that has provided some of his most musically satisfying experiences. And it’s for these kinds of solo performances that he is always ready to offer his unique talents—talents perfectly suited for local venues and audiences in Bethlehem and beyond.


    Whether it’s singing standards from the ’30s and ’40s for a formal event; hosting an ’80s Sing-Along at Tunes at Twilight, featuring his own unique and witty original compositions in an acoustic coffeehouse setting, or entertaining audiences with his hallmark, surprisingly eclectic variety of cover songs, George has a setlist for every occasion.


    “I love so many styles and artists, and I know most people love a diverse amount of music as well. Why not play it all?” George muses. “Fortunately for me, Bethlehem has been an incredible place to do just that.”


    Offering: The perfect music for your perfect occasion in a myriad of styles, artists, and influences. Solo musical performances incorporating guitar, piano, voice, and more.

    James Lavranos – Independent Videographer & Photographer


    James Lavranos fell in love with film when he used to play around with a camcorder as a child. He eventually made his way to film school, and turned his passion into a business.


    Lately, he’s been creating video and photography for nonprofits, marketing agencies, and events, in which he sees clients’ needs through his own lens—literally. “I never abandon my style of artwork,” he says. “On set, I take charge of camera and lights. That’s where I specialize.” With client input, a final draft is selected and a high-quality production is born.


    All of James’ clients get that level of dedication. “I want all of my work to have that purpose, to tell a story, to carry a message,” says James. “My goal is to make excellent content, increase production value, and create growth wherever I go.”


    An artist first and foremost, James draws inspiration from David Fincher’s signature lighting and camera work in his own cinematography. In his photography, he is moved by the work of Platon Antoniou. “He uses his photos to inspire change and tell the stories of the voiceless,” James says. “I want to create photos with that much thoughtfulness and intention.”


    In his spare time, James pursues his personal projects. “Some days I just go out and shoot,” he says. “I love street photography and I like to challenge myself to achieve something that I never have before.”


    Offering: Photography and videography services for individuals, nonprofits, marketing agencies, and events.

    Michael Metzger & Randy Galiotto – Alloy5 Architects


    The team at Alloy5 5 Architecture believes great things are possible when people work together. With a combined 45 years of work experience in the field, Michael Metzger, AIA, and Randy Galiotto, AIA, are at the helm of a group of architects and designers that is cross-trained in business information modeling and graphic design—and practices in an atmosphere of teamwork.


    “Architecture tends to be isolating; we get very focused on minute details and precision angles,” says Michael. “At Alloy5, we seek collaboration not just with a client, but also with each other.”


    Alloy5 offers architectural, interior, and graphic design services. For Michael and Randy, it’s all a balance of art and science. Their clients present them with a challenge—to design a high-tech lab, renovate an old school, or create a nano-brewery—and they have to be creative within the limitations of building codes and budgets.


    “In our practice, we always try to put ourselves in the shoes of our clients,” says Randy. “We think about their perspective and then we look at how they use a space, how they’d like to use a space, and how that space can work best for them.”


    Most of all, they are motivated by seeing their team of artists, architects, and designers collaborate together. “Some people feel stifled by the limitations of a project,” Randy says—but the team at Alloy5 is always seeking new problems to solve. “Creativity flows from challenges.”


    Offering: Architectural visioning, master planning, schematic design, renderings, and branding. Services are a blend of architecture with interior and graphic design through organization, inclusiveness, and visualization.

    Chris Colon – Independent Artist


    The artwork of Chris Colon has been described as whimsically exuberant, vibrantly expressive, and richly ornate. Drawing inspiration from graffiti artists, as much as from the Baroque and Art Nouveau movements, Chris’s dreamlike compositions are intended to spark fascination and wonder. His paintings and wearable art straddle the line between pop and traditional, fantasy and reality.


    While each of his works is, on some level, an expression of self, Chris continuously seeks to create bolder greater experiences for his audience as well. “I want the viewer to be totally immersed,” Chris explains. “I want people to feel as if it’s their story and journey in some sort of way.”


    After graduating from the Fashion Institute of Technology with a degree in graphic design, Chris started his career in the arts on the streets of NY as a street vendor. Along with his fine arts background, he specializes in creating one-of-a-kind wearable products that are more of a conversation piece than apparel. His hope is to counteract the monotony of everyday mass-produced brands.


    “Above all, I want the customer to feel unique,” he says. “My motivation for every project I start is not only the opportunity to do something fresh, but also to create something for our culture that inspires people to discover their own stories and journeys.”


    When asked to offer advice to aspiring artists, Chris’s response reflects the very path he himself has taken: “Be Unique. Be Different. Be Original.”

    Paul Peucker – Moravian Archives


    Paul Peucker, archivist at The Moravian Archives, wants to make history available to you. Anyone who is interested can visit the Archives’ reading room and study the collections, and Paul and his staff are ready to lend a guiding hand. By collecting and preserving historical records, and making sure students and researchers have access to them, he helps us discover new things.


    In addition to his work as archivist, Paul teaches classes on 18th century Moravian history at Moravian College. It’s the educator in him that takes particular pleasure in helping the public explore the Archives—which hold one of the largest research libraries on Moravian history in the world, a collection of 18th and 19th century paintings, regularly rotating exhibits, and the only area gift shop with authentic, handcrafted Moravian Stars—a hidden gem of history.


    “Although you may not expect it, most of my work is more about the present than about the past,” says Paul. “It is all about how we use the historical records today. When students come to learn and to enhance their skills, the records are used as an educational tool. Volunteers who come to help us find a meaningful way to give back will also find a community of other volunteers and a sense of belonging. People who come here
    to find information do that because that information means something to them in their lives today.”


    Offering: Lectures, tours, and access to one of the largest research libraries on Moravian history in the world. Rotating exhibitions and the area’s only gift shop featuring original, handcrafted Moravian stars from Herrnhut, Germany.

    William Crow – Lehigh University Art Galleries


    William Crow, PH D is the incoming Director of Lehigh University Art Galleries (LUAG), and a faculty member in Lehigh’s Department of Art, Architecture, and Design. With an impressive history in museums and cultural organizations for more than 20 years, William comes to LUAG from his most recent role as the Educator in Charge of Teaching and Learning at New York City’s Metropolitan Museum of Art.


    “Art galleries and museums are no longer passive places that solely store objects from the past,” says William. “Instead, they are laboratories where people can experiment and where they can see themselves and their world through new eyes.” LUAG puts this philosophy right into practice, hosting an internationally renowned collection that is open to the public, representing diverse cultures and media, as well as an outstanding outdoor sculpture collection that never closes.


    As an art museum director, the educator in him is always present. William views the galleries as spaces to which all people should feel invited—to learn and explore, be inspired, and even generate solutions to concerns or questions that they have. His goal is to highlight the relevancy of the art collections, and to use those collections to activate creativity and inquiry.


    William also considers himself a maker. Some of his earliest memories are of making models, drawings, machines, and sculptures. “At my core is a belief that the process of making things—and investigating what others have made—helps us understand ourselves and the world in new ways,” he says.


    Lehigh University is offering a world class art collection of over 15,000 objects, with exhibitions in galleries located throughout Lehigh’s three campuses. All LUAG exhibitions are free and open to the public.

    Tahya – Ancient Arts


    Tahya, Instructor and Artistic Director at Art of Rhythm & Dance, has one name. It means “Welcome.”


    “The mission of my art, classes and pubic performances is to invite persons of all ages to bring these ancient and enduring arts into our modern lives revealing a pathway of expanded creativity, relaxation, well-being and self-empowerment as well as to exemplify the ability and importance of the arts which inspire beauty, respect and tolerance in our hearts while building cultural awareness,” says Tahya.


    Tahya is inspired by the intoxicating melodies and hypnotic rhythms of North African, Middle & Far Eastern music. At Art of Rhythm & Dance she teaches the drumming and dance traditions of these cultures. She was inspired to design and develop a modern version of the SYSTRUM, a handheld percussion instrument used in ancient Egyptian ceremony previously buried by the sands of time.


    Tahya’s interactions with dance students of all ages have contributed to an evolving philosophy of beauty. “It is beautiful to witness my class participants transcend life’s daily challenges connecting with one another and the lineage of those who came before us,” says Tahya. “And to me, there is nothing more beautiful than rediscovering & igniting the creative essence within.”


    Offering: Relaxing, revitalizing, rejuvenating experiences with the Ancient Arts—shimmer a Systrum, learn frame drum and finger cymbal rhythms and technique, master mudra, or dive into belly dance.

    Kyle Smith – Independent Photographer


    Kyle Smith’s candid style of photography captures people and places in their natural states.


    “I like to make people feel comfortable and happy,” says Kyle. “To me, it’s always about building relationships with people and having fun while doing so. I like to think that this then translates into great photographs and happy clients.”


    Kyle’s style of continuous shooting allows him to capture organic moments and small details with his portrait subjects. When he’s not building relationships with and photographing his subjects, Kyle is taking pictures of his travels. “I love going places people wouldn’t want to go,” says Kyle. “A path that looks too treacherous or a helicopter ride that seems too impossible.”


    When Kyle discovered photography in college, he became hooked. As a graphic design student, he was already immersed in the arts, but the camera gave him a powerful new tool he couldn’t put down. His advice to other young creatives?


    “Never stop and never give up, no matter how many times you get rejected and no matter how many times you don’t hear back from people. No matter how long you may go without much “work,” you cannot stop. Always keep working and moving forward and good things will happen!”


    Offering: Complete photography services including weddings, engagements, headshots, portraits, events, and product shots. Original travel prints available per request.

    Gerard Longo, Sienna Proetto, Jon Patrizi

    SouthSide Arts District


    The SouthSide Arts District is dedicated to making art of all forms accessible to residents and visitors of the Lehigh Valley and beyond.


    Over the past year the SouthSide’s First Friday celebration has introduced guests to a new concert series loyal to showcasing local musicians throughout the District. The man behind this fresh, hip concert series is Gerard Longo— Founder and Editor-in-Chief of Lehigh Valley Underground. Each month he features musicians of every genre, creating a unique and inclusive music scene throughout the Arts District.


    To complement those efforts are public art and pop up art galleries, giving guests who visit a chance to view and appreciate a variety of artists. Jon Patrizi and Sienna Proetto are two who have used the District as their canvas.


    Sienna has not only painted one of our signature flower pots—hers is outside of Homebase Skateshop—but has provided her work to multiple shops, including Color Me Mine’s Cobalt Gallery.


    Jon has contributed three artistic flower pot designs to the streetscape, most recently outside of U & Tea Authentic Chinese Restaurant. Each flower pot is a unique and fun design encouraging patrons to continue walking to find the next planter and enjoy what many have called SouthSide’s public art gallery.


    These three, along with so many other members of the community, have worked together to make the SouthSide Arts District a place of culture and celebration of art in all forms.

    Joy Hirokawa – The Bel Canto Youth Chorus


    Dr. Joy Hirokawa , Founder and Artistic Director of The Bel Canto Youth Chorus, believes in the transformative power of music. The Bel Canto Children’s Chorus, comprised of auditioned treble singers from five counties in northeastern Pennsylvania, has developed an international reputation for performing diversified choral repertoire at the highest standard of musical excellence and style.  Its recent merger with the venerable Bach Choir of Bethlehem expands educational and outreach opportunities for both groups and promises new and exciting collaborations for the future. This year the chorus celebrates its 25th season.
    “I truly believe that if everyone sang together, we would have fewer problems, more cooperation, and more kindness,” Joy says. “Choral music is now being used to help the homeless, those in prisons, and to bring people of differences together. Our singers learn about themselves and each other through singing music from other cultures and sharing musical experiences. Singing unifies people in a way that nothing else can!”


    Founded in 1993, The Bel Canto Youth Chorus has developed an international reputation for offering diversified choral repertoire at the highest standard of musical excellence and style.