Catasauqua Press

Tuesday, November 13, 2018

Main Streets plans ‘Iron Worker’ mural dedication

Wednesday, November 7, 2018 by PAUL CMIL Special to The Press in Local News

Artist: Work pays tribute to industrial history of borough, looks to future

Catasauqua’s business owners association, Main Streets, will dedicate the “Iron Worker” mural at the corner of Pine and Front streets 11 a.m. Nov. 10.

The artist, Denton Burrows, will be there to discuss his work. An open-house reception will follow until 1 p.m. at Gallery 415, just up the street.

The mural is painted on the building that houses the Catasauqua Community Food Bank, 527 Front St.

Main Streets spent more than a year looking for the right artist to fill the wall space. John Landi, owner of the building on which the mural is painted, agreed the wall could use some color.

Landi has long supported the community in a variety of ways. Now he provided the canvas that will be a bright spot attracting attention to the Iron Works site and the food bank.

The Main Streets committee searched for a local artist and found a mural they liked on the south side of Bethlehem. It was painted by Burrows, a Lehigh University graduate. The dramatic changes to Bethlehem’s Southside over the last 10 years are attracting new residents to live and work there who are eager to take an active role in the community.

“This is a game changer,” said one resident who was walking by the mural while Burrows was painting.

Burrows, a professional street artist, illustrator and fine artist living and working in New York City, believes that murals are a natural evolution of art.

“Street art is a global and cross-cultural movement,” he said. “Its beauty is that it’s for the people. You don’t have to pay to see it. It’s larger than life and accessible to everyone. Not everyone is going to like every mural, but that public debate is healthy, especially in these tense and divided times. Public art has the ability to bridge cultural gaps — and that is essential and powerful.”

Burrows’ ideas for the mural went beyond just adding art to a drab wall.

“The mural aims to respect and pay tribute to the industrial iron history of the town while also looking toward the future as the old iron worker looks out over Front Street,” he said. “People need to understand that much of the rise of street art is owed to graffiti. It is a movement of artistic and social expression.

“Every city has issues with vandalism, but instead of shunning the artists, consider giving them a safe place to paint and express themselves,” he said. “They have a passion, and it’s better to nurture it than completely condemn it. They are not punks; they are just trying to figure out life like the rest of us.”

With the Iron Works project on the horizon, this mural provides a glimpse into the future. The mural’s main purpose was furthering the Main Streets’ mission of “revitalization through art and beautification,” but its impact has been bigger than that. It sparked an ongoing conversation about public art in the community.

“This location is a gateway to our community,” said Kim Brubaker, committee chair and Main Streets president. “So many people are greeted by the vibrant display of colors. It brightens up the community!”

The food bank will be open during the dedication to receive donations or inquiries.

“With the increase in families needing food over the holidays, we need more support from the community,” volunteer Janeen Craver said.

Holiday donation requests include rice, pasta and canned goods, with the exception of tuna fish. Regular hours are 3-4 p.m. Wednesdays and Fridays.

Call 610-264-8366 to leave a message to coordinate additional drop-off times for the holidays.