Baum students create a big mural at new center for Big Brothers Big Sisters of the Lehigh Valley
When the children and their “Big Brothers” and “Big Sisters” enjoy activities inside the new Big Brothers Big Sisters of the Lehigh Valley Youth Center, they will also be able to enjoy the wall art surrounding them.
The former St. Joseph’s Lutheran Church, built in 1887 at Walnut and Carlisle Streets, Allentown, is now home to Big Brothers Big Sisters of the Lehigh Valley. The building was donated by the disbanding congregation to the mentoring organization in late 2015.
The mural, dedicated Aug. 24 in the lower-level activity room, features familiar scenes from around the Lehigh Valley. Baum School’s Executive Director Shannon Fugate and Baum’s Youth and Community Manager Amanda Madea praised Baum School “Mural Painting Workshop” art instructor Rosemary Geseck and her talented class of eight high school artists for the plethora of colorful vignettes they created around the room.
Geseck said that at the beginning, she and her students envisioned incorporating Lehigh Valley destinations that children in the Big Brothers Big Sisters program and their mentors might like to visit. The artwork covers three walls of the room and features Allentown locations, including the PPL Tower, Baum School of Art and the Leonardo da Vinci Horse Statue; Bethlehem scenes, including SteelStacks, Central Moravian Church steeple and Musikfest, and Easton scenes, including the Crayola Factory and Josiah White II canal boat. The images are painted over a powder blue background.
Geseck noted, “Bridges are always a great symbolic thing … Free Bridge in Easton, Eighth Street Bridge in Allentown, and the Hill-to-Hill Bridge in Bethlehem …” as she pointed to the three bridges at the top of the mural that serve to tie all the other images together.
Melissa Moyer, Youth Center site manager, expressed her gratitude for the Baum School’s artistic contribution, observing “… how much color and just warmth the painting, this mural, makes this room so much better than it was. If you didn’t see this room before ... all the walls were white. It was all very sterile down here.”
In addition to six of the art students and their proud parents in attendance, were several Big Brothers Big Sisters board members. Said Board Chair Joe Hopf, as he viewed a Parkland Lanes vignette on the wall between the kitchen and stairway, “Bowling is actually our largest fundraiser.” Looking to another wall with a golf course scene, he mentioned the organization’s other big fundraiser:, “We have a golf outing coming up here in about a month.” Hopf is delighted with the new location’s potential, saying, “Number one, it’s all about the kids. It’s all about the kids.”
The Baum School of Art has offered a “Mural Painting Workshop” for the past 10 summers. Many students have returned each year, creating murals at different locations, including Cedarbrook Nursing Home, Good Shepherd Rehabilitation Network, Lehigh Valley Health Network Cedar Crest, and Sacred Heart Hospital.
Information on the Baum School of Art “Mural Painting Workshop”: baumschool.org
Information on Big Brothers Big Sisters of the Lehigh Valley: bbbslv.org