Category Archives: South Side Bethlehem

BEST NEIGHBORHOOD BLOG: Thanks LV!

Infinite Thank You’s to everyone who helped make HEART OF STEELcity the Best Neighborhood Blog as per the local Best of Blogs contest. (My other blog, Save the Kales! won Best Food Blog. Cheers!)

With so many inspiring people and projects popping up all over, I can hardly keep up and was recently discussing inviting some guest bloggers to help us all know about this ever-growing bounty of Awesome.

For example:

  • The new SteelStacks building is going to be home for really amazing local entertainment, music and non-music like independent film, comedy and wacky collaborations. (Horror film geeks, you are going to be pleased.)
  • A new video web series  that documents people and indie business all over town!
  • Art Battles (stay tuned)
  • Local people getting national television shows – these people are local, still live here, and the shows are being taped here (there at least TWO that I know of right now!)
  • DIY ethics and organizing are creating new forces to be reckoned with

SO, SO MUCH.

If you’d like to be a contributing writer, or just want to send some info my way, do it early and often! Coming soon, I’ll post a link to all the blogs that won the BEST OF BLOGS contest. We’re all so excited, and we love you too.


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Filed under Allentown, EVENT, Lehigh Valley everywhere, North Bethlehem, South Side Bethlehem, Website, Writer

ALL TOGETHER NOW: “In Unison” Art Show at Touchstone Theatre

“[With this show] we can speak as an artist community through a shared voice, visually through our art.” Loly Reynolds, Director of Community Artists of Bethlehem

We’re getting to the time of year when Bethlehem’s First Fridays are really good. Nice weather means more people, and First Fridays are definitely a “the more the merrier” monthly event.

Kicking off March and what we can all hope is the start of more consistent sunshine is a great show put together by the Community Artists of Bethlehem (CAB). In Unison came to fruition when the folks of CAB and Touchstone Theatre realized their creative brains and resources should merge together. When CAB put out a call to interested artists, the response was large enough that the show now boasts more than three times as many artists as were initially considered.

Loly Reynolds, CAB Director, found inspiration in the pages of a book – the Red Tent by Anita Diamant:

“They sang the words in unison, yet somehow created a web of sounds with their voices. It was like hearing a piece of fabric woven with all the colors of a rainbow. I did not know that such beauty could be formed by the human mouth. I had never heard harmony before.”

Mixed media by Jessica Hoffman

Art will run the gamut from paintings and photography to mixed media and wire sculpture. “You can expect to see pieces that range from extremely disciplined to those that are a bit fringier”, Loly says.

CAB is a grassroots organization that you’ve likely seen at almost all of Bethlehem’s festivals. Loly explains, “The purpose of CAB is to encourage communication between area artists and widen their network to promote exposure to their work and create a positive cultural impact on our wonderful city. Many of these artists are active in the arts community through Blogs, Drink and Draw’s at The Brew Works, local businesses, as well as Lehigh and Moravian graduates”.

This is a FREE event – come enjoy art, friends, food and drink and live music from Jim Thorpe bluegrass band Free Range Folk. (This is exactly the kind of music I’ve really been into in the past year – check them out HERE. They have a song about blueberries! YES!)

INFORMATION:

  • Friday, March 4 2011
  • In Unison is at Touchstone Theatre, 321 E. 4th Street Bethlehem (Southside)
  • !!! FREE ADMISSION!!!
  • They will serve light refreshments (including wine!)
  • Art can be purchased at this event
  • 6pm-10pm
  • Live music performed by Free Range Folk (bluegrass)
  • CAB’S Facebook Page

*GAS EXPLOSION DONATIONS ACCEPTED! “We are accepting donations to deliver to The Red Cross for relief for the 13th street Gas Explosion victims. Also, we will be collecting, dry goods, clothing, and gift cards for their relief. Please be so kind as to help us in this effort!”

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Filed under Art, Artist, EVENT, Photography, Sculpture, South Side Bethlehem, Visual Art

TEAM DEREK

Last week I was going from a meeting at the Comfort Suites to do some work at Deja Brew and was passing through the parking lot when I spied this very crafty note attached to this very illegally parked car.

What a nice guy.

I appreciate Derek’s foresight, the care and concern it took to scrawl this note and, more importantly, the fact that the Bethlehem Parking Authority did not (yet) give him a ticket. I think I speak for all of us when I say, we hope you and your car made it safely to a spot within that junkyard among the rubble and debris of cars before you, Derek. Godspeed.

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Filed under Coffee Shop, South Side Bethlehem

PROM NIGHT: We All Got Lucky!

If you weren’t able to make it to the shining, sparkling Lehigh Valley with Love Prom – hosted of course by George Wacker of the locally-famous Lehigh Valley with Love blog and the glamorous-as-a-unicorn-horn Tina Hemmerle of WINK magazine, don’t feel too bad (maybe a little bad, it was truly awesome) – I have a recap!

Let’s all give a standing ovation to the fact that nearly two thousand dollars was raised to fight against Multiple Sclerosis. A second standing ovation for all of the folks that selflessly donated time and talents! (Among them Molly’s Bar and Grille, Eskandalo! Hair and Jordan White/Kinetic Blu for singing better than any of us.)

Wait to stand up and clap until you’re done scrolling through this post, obviously.

We all got extra lucky since the whole night was documented in a number of ways, from photos to a live web stream at the event to this video by Matt and Sarah of the “Yearbook Committee”. This video has quickly become my favorite thing on the earth.

If anyone asked what the people are like in the Valley, show them this.

Post Sputnik, you will always be our prom dates in spirit. Your amazingly wonderful (and super-fast… seriously, how do you do it?) editing lingers in our hearts long after our wrist corsages have wilted.

And don’t forget about the excellent photography by Chris Elston “Class Clown” (watch the video! watch it again!) – which reminds me, if you ATTENDED the prom and had your portraits taken, GO HERE to view/buy some. Now!  And if you weren’t there, go HERE so you can see how much fun we had and come next time (or spy on your ex, whatever). Oh, and if you can lend me a few hundred bucks so I can buy them all, that would be so kind of you!

Don’t miss the night’s candid shots by roaming photographer Matt of Lightly Salted Productions. Wow, see how much fun being neighbors and friends can be!?  Note that all the below shots are from this guy! He worked so we could drink beers and watch cute girls jump out of a silver cake. You took one for the team, Matt!

I keep thinking about the moment when I looked across the crowded space full of people happy to be alive and out and meeting each other, and George leaned in and said to me, “Can you believe this? It’s so great… and  Tina and I just kind of put this together. Can you imagine what we can do next time with all of our powers combined….?”

And he gave that plotting-evil grin he likes so much. Except “next time” won’t be evil at all. It will be like Captain Planet, and  when we put our hands together “for our powers combined”, the Steelmills will shoot fireworks.


Events like this paint a brightly colored picture of the (lehigh valley with) LOVE we all share for shaping this city into a place that is not only accessible, but welcoming to progressive new ideas.  Start thinking about which potential prom dates will have to fight over you next year!

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Filed under EVENT, Film, Photography, South Side Bethlehem

STEELSTACKS: I Have Seen the Future, and It Is Good

Yesterday I had the pleasure of getting an exclusive tour of the new ArtsQuest SteelStacks building at it’s current phase of construction.

I knew it would be good, but quite simply, it’s mind-blowing. It looks like DWELL Magazine exploded all over the Southside in an ideal location with the best views.

Some really interesting things to note:

  • Everything is customizable. Very little in the way of furniture and stages are actually built-in, which means there is flexibility to make a stage bigger and a crowd smaller, vice versa, you can sit and watch a jazz show or pack a standing room for a rock concert.
  • The view of the Steelmills is incredible. You are right there. One ENITRE side of the bulding’s facade is made of glass windows facing the mills.
  • The window-wall on the ground floor is made of accordion windows, so they can be completely opened and essentially “removed” in warmer weather to make a seamless indoor/outdoor space for eating, drinking (an outdoor bar, too!) and watching performances.

I could keep going, but the photos speak for themselves. Enjoy.

About to enter the building. This will soon be a courtyard area.

The view upon walking in. Hits you pretty hard. It's awesome.

First floor will hold a cafe, bar, box office and media lounge.

Third floor. Industrial lighting over what will eventually be one of the bars.

Third floor. Biggest concert space.

Imagine seeing your favorite band here. Just IMAGINE IT.

Balcony seating area.

Stairs to dressing rooms and balcony.

Who wants to move in?

I want to play lazer tag.

Picture this. A glass of wine, live jazz, the sun setting.

Prettiest staircase I ever did see.

Second floor. Ahead is the Blast Furnace room, a small version of the upstairs perfect for comedy shows and more intimate events.

One of the two theaters to host independent cinema.

Thank you infinitely to Patrick for handing me a hard hat and giving the tour. It was impossible not to leave and be so excited about what our little town of Bethlehem has in store. This building is almost as beautiful as the spirit of the people here.

I’m proud to be home.

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Filed under South Side Bethlehem, SteelStacks

THIRD THURSDAY FILM CLUB: “The Visioneers”

Take a break from netflix and allow your couch to lose the you-shaped indentation. Tonight, enjoy your movie in the company of community members who are likely just as cool as you if they are going, too.

The fine folks of the annual Southside Film Festival have a decidedly unpretentious, open-to-all film club. Every third thursday of the month at saliva-inducing *Victory Firehouse the film club chooses a movie that isn’t getting mainstream attention, and isn’t showing at local independent cinema. And check this out: It’s FREE.

Ahem. FREEEEEEE!!!!!!!!

As per the website, “Each third Thursday of the month, the SSFI presents a socially conscious film that merits viewing and discussion.  Our purpose is to give venue to pertinent and well-crafted documentary films that unfortunately do not have a market in mainstream cinema.”

TONIGHT’s film is The Visioneers directed by Jared Drake.

“First time feature filmmaker Jared Drake makes his directorial debut with this quirky black comedy set in the near future, and concerning a curious spike in cases of spontaneous human combustion. The Jeffers Corporation is the largest business in the history of mankind, and they got that way thanks to their strict philosophy of happiness through mindless productivity. But when people begin literally exploding due to unhappiness, Jeffers Corporation Level Three TUNT George Washington Winsterhammerman (Zach Galifianakis) begins to fear that his time will come sooner rather than later.

George lives a comfortable yet completely uneventful life, and when he starts having dreams in which he’s the first President of the United States, his doctor informs him that they could be signs of impending explosion. Later, as the dreams become more frequent and his co-workers continue to detonate, George is prompted to reevaluate his mundane existence. Judy Greer, Missi Pyle, and James LeGros co-star in an existential black comedy featuring music by Tim DeLaughter of the Polyphonic Spree.”

Did you see that? Zack Galifianakis AND the Polyphonic Spree in the same film. It’ll be like that crazy Fionna Apple video but dare I say, better and with more political commentary?

BE THERE OR BE SQUARE.

INFORMATION:

  • FREE Admission
  • Victory Firehouse, 205 Webster Street (Behind the Hard Bean Cafe)
  • Doors at 6:45, Film Starts 7:15
  • Stay afterward for discussion! And meeting friends!
  • GO HERE for directions, general info and a schedule of upcoming films

*A note about the Victory Firehouse – When I first passed this place, I literally pulled to the side of the road and got out of the car to try and figure out what it was. A house? No. An actual functioning firehouse? I didn’t think. A bar? WHAT IS IT?

The use of corrugated steel an bold primary colors make this a modern architecture lover’s wet dream, right here in ol’ Bethlehem. I have formulated a plan to take it over and establish my residence there if whatever it is they do doesn’t work out. But hopefully it will so they can keep showing films.

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Filed under EVENT, Film, South Side Bethlehem

RENAISSANCE FAIR: What is the City But It’s People?

I started this blog several months ago as a testament to the beautiful people and inspiring businesses, artists, and projects that make their home in the Lehigh Valley. On a selfish note, I’ve had the pleasure of meeting so many people that do all they can to always improve this area in some capacity. But it’s not about me – it’s about the drive I have for helping to expose the hard work and deep passions that radiates from local residents.

A few years ago, there seemed to be this attitude that it was “cool” to hate the Valley. I found it was more common to hear someone complain about the area than to be excited about it. (I admit, even with all my optimism, I eventually became one of those people.)

Photo by local photographer Marty Desilets


But over the past year, there has been an always increasing unconscious uprising of positivity and motivation to turn the Valley into someplace we could all be proud of. Not only is it rare to hear a negative comment, I am constantly listening to people say how much they love it here – yes, the L word.

Upon talking to friends recently, all heavily involved in the various arts communities, one of them used the word “renaissance” to describe the shift.

re·nais·sance:  noun, often attributive

\ˌre-nə-ˈsän(t)s, -ˈzän(t)s, -ˈsäⁿs, -ˈzäⁿs, ˈre-nə-ˌ, chiefly British ri-ˈnā-sən(t)s\

a movement or period of vigorous artistic and intellectual activity

I love that perfect explanation of this new mental attitude, just as much as I love the Valley. When I think about the purpose of this blog, beyond just filling a creative and community-based need for me personally, I want to continue to document the great things happening here. I would hope someone who never came here would read this and know how much is going on, and be excited to visit. I hope people who once lived here and moved away because they felt it didn’t live up to what other cities could offer, would reconsider that perception and feel proud of all we’re doing.

As I’ve been planning the return of of this blog (I suppose it never left, but only updating  once every 4 months negates the point, yes?), something serendipitous, albeit small, happened that pushed me into more excitement. Let me share:

I was browsing Etsy (popular handmade craft site) looking for a new “it goes with everything” necklace. I wanted something metal with a vintage element. I forget the exact combination of words I typed in, but as I sifted through the pages, I found this one that caught my eye. I wanted it.

Horatio necklace by WishByFelicity, via Etsy

To my delightful surprise, it wasn’t until reading the fine print of the listing that I realized one of the vintage tags in the necklace is from Bethlehem Steel. There is no mention of that in the title, and the creator isn’t even from Pennsylvania. Just a weird twist of fate that in a sea of 20,000 necklaces (Jules Verne would be proud!), I found one that hit so close to home.

Small, but meaningful (to me). My current residence in the Lehigh Valley is deliberate. After considering a move, I was so by inspired the welcoming community of pioneers that I have since been able to call my friends, I knew that living here meant I could be a part of something great.

I hope I can continue to document it in a way that makes you as excited and inspired as it makes me.

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Filed under Artist, Business, Lehigh Valley everywhere, North Bethlehem, South Side Bethlehem, Visual Art