HeARThstone summer programs announced



July 7, 2016


Project aims to transform communities through the arts

Allentown, PA—
The Allentown Art Museum of the Lehigh Valley announces several summer community-outreach programs that are part of the Museum’s HeARThstone initiative, which is supported by grants from the Pennsylvania Council on the Arts, the Harry C. Trexler Trust, and the Century Fund.

TheHeARThstone Project offers Allentown residents and their families the opportunity to learn twenty-first-century skills in creative practices, critical thinking, and technology while encouraging intergenerational community engagement. By providing greater access to artists and artmaking, HeARThstone workshops and activities are intended to increase the Museum’s positive impact in the Lehigh Valley and allow it to act as a bridge between community partners, residents in the Neighborhood Improvement Zone (NIZ), and the Allentown Promise Neighborhood (APN). The title of the project is derived from the notion that a hearthstone is the “heart” of a home, synonymous with family, community, safety, and communal gathering.

“The Museum’s HeARThstone Project is predicated on our belief that that arts change lives, create community, foster economic development, and improve citizenship,” says David Mickenberg, president and CEO of the Allentown Art Museum of the Lehigh Valley.

The concept of the HeARThstone Project is thatin collaboration with their communities, art museums can
—be a force in improving educational performance
—lead in the creation of a society of critical thinkers with enhanced visual thinking skills
—help deliver STEM and STEAM educational initiatives
—help build community ownership
—aid in the fostering of volunteerism
—significantly impact and empower adults to engage young people in learning
—be a partner in the creation of safe neighborhoods

HeARThstone programs this summer (2016) inside and outside the Museum include:

The Long-Term Artist-in-Residency Program is focused on encouraging multiple perspectives on our community, its cultural history, art, and architecture. Lengthy residencies allow an artist to more fully develop and implement programs and workshops that are centered on building both personal and communal relationships. These residencies last less than one year and typically culminate with a public exhibition.

In spring 2016, artist Dianne Smith led an afterschool program atCentral Elementary School that engaged fourth- and fifth-graders in expressing perspectives about the notion of community, cultural history, and art. During summer 2016, Smith will delve deeper into the community to help bring forth the unique stories that have helped create Allentown, photographing and interviewing individuals about their lives, identities, cultural history, and how they came to the city. The portraits and stories collected will be exhibited at the end of the residency.

As part of The HeARThstone Project’s initiative to increase engagement with the community, the Museum has launched the Creativity Lab at Three City Center, 515 Hamilton Street. The Creativity Lab is a space that allows the extended community to see an artist’s process and engage in immersive programing. The Lab opened in early July and continues through October.

Having an extension of the Museum on Hamilton Street increases the Museum’s visibility, drawing upon the foot traffic of the business district. The large windows and graphic signage draw in curious passersby, and the in-process work by the artists encourages repeat visitation. By seeing the progressive creation of art in the Creativity Lab, onlookers will act as witnesses to these creative endeavors and have a sense of ownership of the finished artworks.

The Museum’s first Creativity Lab artist is Anthony Viscardi, who will be preparing a monumental, three-dimensional mural for his fall exhibition at the Museum called Shadow Landings: An Immersive Art Installation. The Museum will host free monthly meet-and-greets with the artist on the third Thursday of each month from July through October. Attendees are invited afterward to enjoy an exclusive happy hour at Grain restaurant, across the street from the Creativity Lab. Viscardi will also be conducting a series of free shadow casting workshops on Saturdays, July 23 to August 13, allowing participants to experience and experiment with his process.

As our exhibitions Our Strength Is Our People: The Humanist Photographs of Lewis Hine andOur America: The Latino Presence in American Art emphasize themes relevant to our immigrant community, the Allentown Art Museum invites participants to look at how these topics are central to their own lives. Story Station, open on Sundays from June 26 through October 2, 2016, from noon till 3 p.m. in the Museum’s Rodale classroom, gives visitors the opportunity to talk about their family’s history, to share their own personal stories about immigration, and to give voice to their experiences. Museum staff will lead participants through a series of questions to help bring forth their story, recording these stories on an iPad. Participants also are invited to share photographs that document the story of their family’s movement to and through America. These stories and the accompanying images will be shared through the Museum’s Instagram and Facebook accounts.

The Museum’s Teen Docents Program will provide area teens this summer the opportunity to give guided tours of the Museum’s special exhibitions as well as our Renaissance and American art collections. Teens will learn about giving tours from Society of the Arts (SOTA) docents and about the collections and exhibitions from our curatorial staff.

This eight-week program includes developing skills in research, writing, and public speaking. Each participant will give at least one tour. Through this program teens will be able to explore the meaning of art, learn about careers in the arts, and meet artists and museum professionals. At the completion of the program, Teen Docents will lead public tours on Saturdays.

The Museum works with community and cultural groups to present collaborative events throughout the year. This summer the Museum is supporting two community events:

Puerto Rican Day Parade
In conjunction with Allentown’s annual Puerto Rican Day Parade, whichpasses directly in front of our doors, the Museum will be open early on July 31, 2016, so paradegoers can see the exhibition Our America: The Latino Presence in American Art. Artworks by eleven self-identified Puerto Rican artists will be on display: ADÁL, Olga Albizu, Myrna Báez, Marcos Dimas, Carlos Irizarry, Miguel Luciano, Antonio Martorell, Juan Sánchez, Jorge Soto Sánchez, Pepón Osorio, and Sophie Rivera. Free tours in English and Spanish will be offered all morning, as well as complimentary cool beverages in our Café for paradegoers.


Regalo Cultural
Held on Sunday, October 2, 2016, 11 a.m. till 7 p.m. inside the Museum and outside in Allentown Arts Park, Regalo Cultural will be a one-day festival of arts and cultures that brings together four of the approximately nineteen Latino communities in Allentown and Lehigh County (Mexican, Puerto Rican, Dominican, and Columbian) to celebrate and honor the diversity of our collective histories, arts, and cultures. This bringing together and honoring the cultural diversity of our Latino communities and sharing with everyone the gifts of Latino music and dance, visual and performing arts, foods and friendship is unprecedented in the history of Allentown.

Anchored by the Puertorrican Culture Preservation Inc., the Founding Committee for Regalo Cultural also includes the Hispanic American League of Artists (HALA), El Grupo Folklórico Méxicano XOCHIQUETZAL, and many others. Activities will include stage performances, creative arts workshops, food kiosks presented by local restaurants, and a visual arts gallery. Regalo Cultural will be the culminating event for the Allentown Art Museum's exhibition Our America: The Latino Presence in American Art.


The Museum has brought together more than twenty key members of our community to form a community advisory council: Community Council (C2). C2 was organized with the express purpose of helping the Museum enhance our visibility and engage a wider variety of constituencies. The Council will help staff and management understand the realities of the many local communities we serve and learn how best to attract visitors from new audiences and diverse constituencies.

C2 ensures that the Museum is in tune with the values and concerns of our area residents. The council of local volunteers meets quarterly and works collaboratively with the AAMLV Community Engagement staff. The focus of C2 is the direction of exhibitions, types of programming, and effectiveness of communications. They assess the relevance and impact of this work by previewing information and through review assessments. Just as important, C2 raises awareness in the community of the Museum as a vital cultural resource, and aids the Museum in gauging the needs of area residents related to cultural and civic programming. It is our hope to engender community ownership of the Museum with a diverse and sustained audience, whilegenerating positive social change. C2 will be instrumental in helping the Museum develop this interconnectedness.

The membership of C2 is comprised of individuals who work in the private and public sector, including Community Action Coalition, Hispanic American League of Artists, Lehigh Carbon Community College, Lehigh Valley Faces, Lehigh University, Panorama Latin News, Promise Neighborhood of the Lehigh Valley, and Puertorican Cultural Preservation Inc.


For more information about any of  these programs, contact Chris Potash at cpotash [at] allentownartmuseum [dot] org or  (610) 432-4333 ext 125.


The Allentown Art Museum is a 501(c)(3) nonprofit organization that participates in the cultural, educational, and economic life of the Lehigh Valley. Defined by a unique combination of tradition and innovation, our collections, educational partnerships, collaborative and community based programs, and exhibitions are dedicated to inspiring the broadest possible public engagement, access, and service.  For more information please visit AllentownArtMuseum.org