After Bethlehem resident Rachel Hutnick visited New Orleans, she became inspired by its vibrant art culture. She felt compelled to recreate its tradition of displaying artists on the street of their neighborhood.
With this vision in mind, Hutnick organized for various vendors to exhibit their art in South Bethlehem for the Art on the Greenway event on Sept. 10.
The Greenway, a walking path that spans from New Street to Auburn Street, became a place for artists to display and sell their artwork.
Hutnick, a nurse with a side passion for art, has lived in Bethlehem for the past five years. Despite living in the South Side Arts District, Hutnick said she felt there was a lack of art in Bethlehem.
“I love the community space,” Hutnick said. “I really love South Side. I love the Greenway. I like the art district feel. I would love to bring more art to the streets.”
Hutnick teamed up with Brandon Wunder, founder of the Alternative Gallery — a nonprofit arts organization in Allentown — to kickstart the event.
Wunder said he hopes to showcase what different artists from the Lehigh Valley have to offer.
“Some artists are displaying work, and some artists are career artists trying to make this their job, and we’re trying to highlight what’s unique in the area,” he said.
Hutnick and Wunder reached out to a variety of people, including painters, dancers and entrepreneurs.
Danielle Stokes, owner of Noraa Body Love, reached out to Bethlehem’s Chamber of Commerce about upcoming events. From there, Stokes was put in contact with Hutnick and invited to participate in Art on the Greenway.
Noraa Body Love is a small business that sells handcrafted, mineral rich soaps and beauty products. Stokes attended Art on the Greenway to promote and sell her products.
“I wanted to share with other people that I make these products and they smell good, and they’re actually much better for your skin than those soap products in department stores,” Stokes said.
Michael Freeman is an abstract artist in the Bethlehem community who is both legally blind and partly colorblind. Freeman sells abstract art and custom work, which he said can be appreciated by all, including those with visual impairments.
Freeman said he thinks art can be a therapeutic tool for those dealing with a mental illness or a disability.
“The most important thing is that people are open and learn that their art can be a helpful tool to not only the artists but to those in the community,” Freeman said.
Freeman said this was his first time participating in an art vending event. He said he enjoyed his time and hopes to continue to be involved with the art community in the Lehigh Valley.
To accompany the vendors, Hutnick recruited Carmen Garrison, a professional belly dance instructor at Allegro Dance Studios, and her student belly dance team to perform on the Greenway during the event.
“When we have community events, it’s a great time to get to know the artists in the area,” Garrison said. “We’re able to support our local people.”
Garrison, who is a mother, said the family-friendly aspect of the event stuck out to her. She said her two children enjoyed the event while she was performing.
Vendors and dancers lined up on either side of the Greenway, allowing passersby to check out all the different offerings.
Through such events, Hutnick and Wunder said they hope to bring more art back to the streets of Bethlehem.
“It’s really good for the community to start having these things along their way,” Wunder said. “We’re hoping that people come out that not only are there for the event specifically, but to find it and pass it on to someone else.”