Public sculpture is integral to a city’s arts community and a vital part of its history. Join the Lehigh Valley Arts Council and sculptor Dan Kainz for “Sculpture in the Park,” a tour of public sculpture in Cedar Beach Park in Allentown, PA.
The event will start at Ott and Honochick Streets on Saturday, July 13th at 10:00 a.m. and will finish at Kainz’s studio at Wenz Company, Inc. 1928 Hamilton Street for refreshments and discussion. The following sculptures will be visited on the tour:
Aggressive Couple – Igael Tumarkin, 1985
Vertical Form – Tom Sternal, 1986
Archomage – Ernest Shaw, 1981-2
Cube and Thread – Paul Sisko, 1977
Marine Memorial – Tom Sternal, 1991
I took a pre-event tour of Cedar Beach Park in preparation for this article, which was eye-opening.
Carved into the side of Igael Tumarkins “Aggressive Couple” was the statement: “Please remove this scrap metal junk from our park,” highlighting two central issues that have plagued Allentown’s outdoor public sculpture for decades—public opinion and the maintenance of the works.
In the 1970’s, when Philip I. Berman gifted multiple pieces to Allentown, the city was torn—some appreciated the infusion of art into the culture and some saw them merely as pieces of junk. This vandalism shows the disarray that many of the sculptures are in, with their metal, stone and paint in a dilapidated state. Maintaining the sculptures is key if we want them to continue to inspire future generations.
What is the value and role of public sculpture in the community?
According to sculptor Dan Kainz, “At its most basic level, public art represents a commitment to the public environment.” He believes that public art can inspire and inject creativity into the lives of the citizens by serving as a bridge between cultures, enriching the urban environment.
The City of Allentown is home to 60 public works and has contracted with Kainz to develop a public arts policy to maintain the artwork. Kainz stresses the need to begin educating the Lehigh Valley about the collection available to them.
Other cities offer great examples of how public art increases tourism and cultural enrichment. In 2000, over 2 million visitors came to Chicago to see “Cows on Parade.” Chicago’s Millenium Park is a state of the art collection of architecture, landscape design and art that provide the backdrop for hundreds of free cultural programs. A 2005 study predicted that the park would generate $5 billion in job growth and tax revenue between 2005 and 2015. Cities that invest in their public sculpture, like Chicago, Denver and Seattle, are prime example of public art stewardship.
Sculpture is only one facet of the Lehigh Valley’s creative economy. The Lehigh Valley’s non-profit arts sector is a $208 million industry and supporting this valuable cultural resource is necessary for continual growth in the area.
Forty years ago, former Mayor Joseph Daddona recognized the potential for Allentown to become a great leader in the arts, stating:
The arts strengthen the quality of life in a city. They only flourish with an active and involved citizenry. We have seen how the cultural life of a city is an important magnet in attracting new industry and business to settle in the area.
Public sculpture is a key part of Allentown’s history and culture, and Kainz hopes to see it grow. His policy recommends the acquisition of new pieces to the collection in order to further enrich the area.
We invite you to come to the tour and join the conversation, enjoying a lovely summer morning highlighted with beautiful sculpture! Contact us for tickets.