Thursday, August 18, 2011

The Bethlehem Project

Untitled II (Bethlehem)
oil on canvas, 9x12 in

Untitled II (detail)

Untitled III (Bethlehem)
oil on linen mounted on panel, 5x6 in

My newest series of work-in-progress focuses on Bethlehem, Pennsylvania: its history and landmarks. Located in the Lehigh Valley, Bethlehem is the home of the epic, now-defunct Bethlehem Steel plant. The site was bought by the Sands Casino, which incorporated the steel history into the design of the casino and converted part of the site into an impressive art center. The blast furnaces and many of the outer buildings have been left intact. I am intrigued by the dark shapes hulking above this picturesque town.

Bethlehem also has a particular draw for me due to my own experience growing up in northwest Indiana, where the steel industry had a similar heyday and collapse, the huge buildings and smokestacks rising above the shore of Lake Michigan. Much of the area where I grew up is depressed and has not had the resurgence which seems to have buoyed Bethlehem.

All of these thoughts filter in as I wander the town and set up my easel to paint on site, braving the bugs, sun, and passing traffic.

1 comment:

  1. Wonderful paintings, I love the way the steel plant offers a representational touch point for more formal issues of composition and color!