As the winter rages on across Pennsylvania’s Americana region, you can still find inspiring and passionately-made artwork that’s accessible to the public and perfect for the whole family to explore outdoors. Add some color to your day by spotting all of the delightful bear statues found throughout Boyertown. The bears can be found in front of shops, schools, along the sidewalk, and other prime locations.
Another wonderful assortment of public art is West Reading’s Mural Corridor. Dean Rohrbach, the former Main Street Manager, helped develop a “Mural Corridor” set on Kline Street between 2nd and 3rd Avenues. This dense collection of artworks stretches along a one-block space, bringing together neighborhood residents with local artists and art. This remarkable public art collection continues to grow and is now named Dean’s Way in memory of the man who created the project.
Public art brings beauty and creativity to shared spaces and encourages a dialogue between local artists and the residents and businesses in a community. Let’s take a closer look at some of the great public works of art in Pennsylvania’s Americana Region.
Photo credit: @historic.boyertown
No need to hunt for bears in Boyertown – they’re everywhere! The area is home to assorted bear statues that resemble historical and imaginative depictions of people, roles, and events. There’s a bear made to look like Abraham Lincoln, one painted like a dinosaur, a bear dressed like a medical professional, and a bear adorned head-to-toe with bubbles and cheery fish.
The decorated bears are the result of cooperation between people of different ages, education, and professions. Some of the bears are sitting, some are walking on all fours, and some bears are stylish and standing upright.
One of the newest bears, “Wyatt the Pooler Bear,” is sponsored by the YMCA and is located at the Boyertown Community Pool. On your next visit, see if you can spot them all!
The vibrant Mural Corridor signage, created by Nancey Seghetti, sets the tone for engaging with other nearby artwork and exists to help inform and guide visitors along the Cherry Street Mural Corridor. The Corridor exists along a three-block art gallery made to be viewed outside. It’s located near the corner of South 4th Avenue and South 7th Avenue in West Reading, PA.
This signage’s vibrant cut-glass mosaic helps to instill passion and joy through the artistic environment. The mosaic uses unusual textures and materials to catch your eye and point visitors in both directions of the outdoor art gallery. Adding artistic beauty makes the downtown marketplace more engaging and social, and by making our community unique and distinctive, it shows how public art adds energizing character to communities.
Today is a Bright Night
To check out this electrifying mural by artist Andrew Pochan, swing by 517 Cherry street in West Reading. With a surreal aesthetic, this work of art colorfully emphasizes themes of electricity, from depictions of shocking power via nature’s lightning strikes to its harnessing of energy to power cafes and shops in downtown West Reading. Its style is partly inspired by Spanish artist Pablo Picasso’s mural-sized oil painting titled Guernica.
“Found Object” is a piece of found art created by Cuban artist Julio Cepeda. It’s located along the mosaic gallery behind Winedown, at 622 Penn Ave., and was developed by using found objects that were donated by local residents. Numerous local volunteers also helped build it during Julio Cepeda’s Berks County summer residency.
Julio Cepeda is from Trinidad, Cuba. He takes pride in being able to resourcefully create art from objects that other people usually consider trash. He is dedicated to creating community-driven work, including sculptures and 3-D murals of exceptional beauty, mystery, and intellectual rigor. This artistic process that incorporates lost objects creates a sense of familiarity with the work in the community.
Our Wings to Remember
Photo credit: @2patravelinggirls
Designed as a group project in 2020, the Wyomissing Area Public Art Workshop and artist Meghan McClennan, created one of the most unique murals in the area. Students in Wyomissing Area’s Public Art Workshop helped to create the overall design, which is made to look like a large, semi-transparent set of butterfly wings gracefully floating across a cloudy sky. But there’s an important trick in the work: just look closer at the details within the wings. Our Wings to Remember mosaic beautifully recognizes the lives of many people who made significant and memorable impact on the creative community in West Reading.
Created by artist Mike Miller, this mural can be seen on 606 Cherry Street and was painted in 2016. It uses an old-fashioned and worn down gas pump as part of its gritty, 3-D, heavily-used-garage design. The blue checker cab was inspired by the taxis that used to fill up at this pump when the area was home for the Kissinger Travel Agency. The name of the garage, Dun Wurkyn, is also the name of a local tavern’s specially-brewed beer. Finally, as with a number of West Reading’s murals, this one has Simon, a black cat known to everyone in the neighborhood.
West Reading 1850
One of the most eye-catching of the Cherry Street murals, West Reading 1850 was created by Jessica and Thomas Alexander and inspired by a late 19th century print treasured by Rohrbach, who passed away in October 2018. The mural gives a beautiful view of Reading, with an eastward vantage across the Schuylkill River from Leinbach’s Hill in West Reading. The married artist couple used Rohrbach’s print as the framework for their design, which includes popular landmarks of the past, like the Penn Street covered bridge, the old Berks County jail in City Park, and the Schuylkill Canal.
Figure Balancing on Dog
Photo credit: @danieljlayy
Internationally acclaimed pop artist Keith Haring was raised in Kutztown, part of Pennsylvania’s Americana Region. Over his 31 year lifespan, Haring would become well-known locally and abroad as an artist for his generation, developing work that addressed challenging subjects like war, sexuality, death, and life, many with a political spirit. But Haring’s passion never left the Kutztown area.
A big outdoor sculpture in the same red motif was donated to his hometown of Kutztown, Pennsylvania in 1992, where it is still adored by residents today.
Photo credit: @senjudyschwank
Last October in 2021, there was a special dedication ceremony to celebrate the new “Hope Blossoms” mural. This neon-vibrant work of art is located behind Threshold Rehabilitation Services’ Mosaic House at 525 Franklin Street in Reading. The Hope Blossoms mural was created by artist Greg Didyoung of Art Plus Gallery in West Reading, but the complete painting was done by numerous members of the community via workshops where volunteers painted panels with the design printed on them.
The mural’s bright contrasting colors and darker background symbolize the ups and downs of mental health, while the 1980s look is based on the most significant decade that middle-aged men in Berks County were heavily affected by suicide. Inside the silhouette’s head, a bundle of flowers signifies the beauty, diversity, and growth of the human mind. Specific sections of the mural were inspired by different groups and individuals within our own community.
Pennsylvania’s Americana region is home to many talented artists and their creations. Be sure to explore all of the artwork hidden throughout the region on your next visit as these are only a few of the many that can be found here!