Allentown Art Museum Waives Admission Fee for the Summer

Director’s Note – Silagh White.

When was the last time you went to a museum of art? If it’s been a while, the Allentown Art Museum is offering one of the biggest enticements for you to get there this summer, aside from their amazing collection and … oh, yes – the climate control! According to local news, The free admission — a savings of $12, adults, and $10 students and seniors — means access for everyone to the permanent collection, special summer exhibits, events and activities for adults and children that complement the exhibits. (Thanks, Morning Call) *

Regular hours are Wednesday-Saturday, 11am-4pm and Sunday, 12pm-4pm.

Did you know that art museums MUST have a controlled climate to protect the art? That means this is a great place to escape the heat and humidity while giving yourself the gift of time to plop in front of a masterwork and stare at it until it smiles back at you.

Sound silly? Maybe. When the writer of this post worked at the Toledo Museum of Art, escaping to the galleries was the best job perk ever. (and now the writer slips into first person). As a docent trainer, I knew were the folding stools were stashed. I also knew where the Cloister gallery ambient sound system was hidden so that I could turn up the volume ever so slightly. The Gregorian chant music resonated with the tapestries and reliquaries. I didn’t just escape to the Cloister. Each gallery was a mini vacation through time and foreign lands. It was a truly magical place. I found serenity in front of so many friends.

Monet - Water Lilies 1922

Monet – Water Lilies 1922

Yes, those art objects became my friends. As I would sit in front of the objects, I would imagine the artist struggling with their vision. I’d be asking questions about their process. Which line of the portrait did they draw first? Did they carve the marble from the top or the middle? Where did they really want my eyes to linger on the landscape? The objects became precious not just for their placement in the display case, but because they survived thousands of years and became the keepers of history.  I can still conjure up details of brushstrokes in Monet’s Water Lilies. While I stared, my mind would wander into the daily to-do list, lesson plans, performance reviews.We bonded over time spent together, reading each others’ minds. I remember so many ideas of how to engage with the work from the brilliant storytelling of the curatorial staff. Art historians would translate the iconography of Netherlandish Renaissance paintings, list the details of Greek mythology with as many plot twists as could be imagined by J.R.R. Tolkien, or animate two-dimensional Expressionist painting by instructing me to watch the layers play off each other.

When the secret of looking at negative space, or the expansion of a line outside the frame was shared along with the wave of an arm, it was like a magic wand took away a veiled sense of unknowing. This opened my eyes to new levels of wonder.

Seeing art in person is to understand the work of an artist on an intimate level. The picture of Monet’s work here is just a reference marker, just like the words you are reading are a reference to the memory I’m sharing. This memory comes to life when the reader and I do not have a computer screen between us. The memory comes to life when we are talking to each other, face to face over a cool drink in the shade on a breezy summer afternoon in the sculpture garden. (wait… Lehigh has a sculpture garden?…. Yep.)

Or the memory becomes the reader’s, as you venture into an art gallery to have your own private affair with art. Summer loving? Yes – and for a few fleeting weeks, the Allentown Art Museum is offering you, dear reader, a chance to place a piece of art in your heart.

* Check out the Allentown Art Museum website to plan your visit. Then, when you come back to campus – visit the Lehigh University Art Galleries. Same climate control, some opportunity to make a long time friend who is right now, literally hanging around just waiting for you to introduce yourself.


National Arts Advocacy Day, 2014

{notes from the Director, Silagh White}

This is the first time in nine years I didn’t travel to Washington, D.C. to participate in the annual National Arts Advocacy Day. This pilgrimage is an incredible experience. It is where I first understood the appropriations process in a way that made much more sense than trying to follow polarized media sources. Here is were I learned that I really did understand the process at an early age. I am of the generation that watched School House Rock during the Saturday morning cartoon and cold breakfast cereal rituals.

The lyrics and images of this 3 minute video planted knowledge that stayed with me like a pair of Ruby Slippers. I only needed to make the shift that the Federal Budget is a law and BOOM – I learned how I could start making an impact on the value of the arts.

The annual affair in Washington DC comes complete with all of the pomp and ceremony of a walk through history and the awe of the process. The first of two days (Monday) is spent in a lovely conference room at the Omni Shoreham hotel. Yes, the one where a few presidential inaugural balls are held, and where a few notable movies where shot. If the event is scheduled late enough, the weather is in peak Spring season. One might even see the Cherry Blossoms. Obviously, this year was not the case, so missing the trip to DC had at least one advantage. I didn’t have to battle another snow event.

The training sessions offered on the first day cover the appropriations process, the numbers of the annual allocation request for the National Endowment for the Arts, some policy issues, and a ton of advocacy training. A big difference is to note the difference between actions of advocacy and lobbying. Most artists and arts organizations are non-profit and not permitted to lobby. Instead, we inform the elected officials on the impact of arts funding in our community. We localize the results of tax dollars allocated to our community and the resulting economic impact, the improved lives for our citizenry, and the quality of our shared living spaces. We participate in some role playing, to rehearse our five minutes with either a congressman or a senator, making sure our shared message has a localized spin and that someone in the room is an actual constituent from the official’s district. We also learn that staff members are our new BFFs – and that we need to build relationships with them.

At the end of the first day, a few celebrities join the pep rally for hundreds of constituents. There’s a fund raiser for the organization that is permitted to lobby (The Arts Action Fund). This is where the celebrities join in. One can get all caught up in the energy of rubbing elbows with the likes of Kerry Washington, Alec Baldwin, Kevin Spacey, Josh Groban, Ben Folds, etc., but the real vitamin shot comes at the evening Nancy Hanks lecture presented at the Kennedy Center.

Over the past nine years, I have heard some amazing speeches. They inspire not only the advocacy work, but also the daily grind of audience building. These speeches come from a wide perspective of talent and expertise. Take a look at the list of previous speakers here. (Did you see what I did there? I actually took you to the page where you could view previous speeches, or order transcripts.)

Monday night’s speaker was NY Times columnist and Pulitzer Prize winner, Maureen Dowd. As with most speakers, she shared her personal relationship with art and connected her path to all of ours. Her speech is full of motivational quotes. I’ll share just one section of her speech here, and hope it’s enough to entice you to listen to the whole program:

“Without the arts, people would have underdeveloped imaginations. With underdeveloped imaginations, they would not lead either meaningful lives, or moral lives. Because without the representations of ‘otherness’ in art, you cannot imagine the pain or poverty that someone else is feeling. Nobody experiences everything. Everybody needs supplements. Everybody starts out too small for certain purposes and we need to be shone what’s possible. You can’t be a fully formed human being based only on your own experiences. We need to see other lives.

Art is precisely such a long and deep and disquieting tutorial for the individual imagination. You will not act to relieve suffering unless you understand it. And if you are not experiencing it yourself, as I hope you are not. The only way you can understand it by seeing depictions of it in movies and elsewhere in the culture.”

~ Maureen Dowd

The second day of the event is the actual work on the hill. This experience is both daunting and empowering. Five to ten minutes of a congressman or senator’s time can be a huge opportunity to inform them of the importance of the arts for their constituency. Their support of budget, policy and programs has long impacts. It is in that moment when you have to choose which story will support the evidence and the data expertly gathered by the the Americans for the Arts.

A few years ago, I had a profound conversation with our PA (15th district) Congressman, Charles Dent. Since then, he’s been kind enough to remember me when we walk parades together in Bethlehem. He asks me how the arts are doing at Lehigh University, his alma mater. I’m happy to share, “The students are busy blowing my mind, as always. And as always, there’s so much more we could do to inspire other.” I share other arts stories in his district. Congressman Dent is supportive of the arts, and his voting record reflects that.

The experiences I’ve had with the Annual Arts Advocacy Day have given me the tools to localize the work year round. Everyone needs a little boost to their work form time to time. Especially students. There are leadership and advocacy opportunities for students who share the value of the arts for our campus.

Zoellner is starting to gather students who have an interest in building more support for the arts on campus. If you or someone you know is interested in learning more, the next meeting will be this Friday at 4:30pm in Zoellner Arts Center. Contact Candi Staurinos for details.

The End of an Era

Were you on campus for the first and only ArtsFest in 2006 when the Chinese landscape paintings by Zang Hongtu were hung in the center of the Packer Memorial Chapel?
Photo by Theo Anderson

Photo by Theo Anderson

 How about the outdoor performance of Koji Kakinuma in 2007?

What about the 2009 partnership with the South Side Initiative and the Bethlehem Biopsy project with Britain’s Christian Nold? Were you lucky enough to have worked on any outsider art projects with Mr. Imagination? What about seeing some [ahem] interesting art exhibits in the galleries? Been to any odd ceremonies? Do you know of any alum who took the Raw Vision or any of the iterations of “Ecce Elvis: Elvis Studies as a Postmodernist Paradigm for the Academic Study of Religions” courses?
Students today may have come across the Secret Art Enclave if they’ve wandered in the woods of South Mountain.

They might have also seen or helped build the Chinese Bridge (above), or the Chinese Pavilion on the Greenway. Over the years, dozens of guest artists, lecturers and artists in residence have engaged students and the community through the visionary leadership of one faculty member.

It’s the end of an era. Yes, that’s a sentence that should be read with as much dramatic flair as possible. For many readers, too much institutional time has passed between some of the more infamous events born from the vision of one professor. For others readers, perhaps not enough.

The founder of the program which eventually became the idea generator for this weekly newsletter is “fading into the mist.” Dr. Norman Girardot’s no-cheese-tray retirement event will take place tomorrow, December 5 from 3:30-6:30 PM, in Zoellner Arts Center, Lower Gallery. There will be testimony from members of the Religion Studies Department and other partners in crime. Find out some of the legendary stories of one infamous faculty member.
(Pictured: Silagh White and Norman Girardot as they were…. back in the day)

The Idan Raichel Project – Don’t miss this one


“In 2003, an unusual song began airing on Israeli’s popular radio stations. With its haunting chorus in the Ethiopian language of Amharic and an exotic, global fusion sound “Bo’ee” became an instant crossover hit that catapulted The Idan Raichel Project to the top of Israel pop charts and turned a young dreadlocked keyboardist and producer into a household name in his native land.

Soon, The Idan Raichel Project would become known around the world for its ambitious cross-cultural collaborations that changed the face of Israeli popular music and offered “a fascinating window into the young, tolerant, multi-ethnic Israel taking shape away from the headlines” (Boston Globe).

The Idan Raichel Project with its acclaimed live concert experience is making a stop at LEHIGH UNIVERSITY near the of its sixteen-city tour. The tour is the group’s first since the international release of their latest album Quarter to Six (Cumbancha) in June, which has continued their ten-year streak of top-selling and critically acclaimed recordings. The Idan Raichel Project have become global ambassadors representing a hopeful world in which artistic collaboration breaks down barriers between people of different backgrounds and beliefs. This tour has been listed as part of the Daniel Pearl World Music Days events.

Billboard Magazine called The Idan Raichel Project “One of the most fascinating titles to emerge in world music this year…a multi-ethnic tour de force.”

The New York Times selected the album as one of the top world music releases of the year, and media from Peru to Portugal was unanimous in their praise.  The album also received a nomination as one of the best world music albums of the year by the BBC Radio 3 Award for World Music.

1377514_10151644539391433_215217434_nIn the past four years, Raichel has co-written numerous songs and toured with GRAMMY winner India.Arie, performed at the Nobel Peace Prize awards ceremony in Oslo, Norway, co-written a song calling for racial harmony with Israeli President and Nobel Peace Prize laureate Shimon Peres, performed for President Obama and family at the Kennedy Center on Martin Luther King, Jr. Day, performed at the ceremony inaugurating the Martin Luther King, Jr. Memorial in Washington DC, sold out shows at Radio City Music Hall and other major venues worldwide, toured India, South America and Africa and released the highly praised Tel Aviv Session album with Malian guitarist Vieux Farka Touré. This year, Raichel joined pop star Alicia Keys on stage as a special guest during her July concert in Tel Aviv.

What could one possibly learn from a man this open to peace and cultural dialogue? His success is not just marked in popularity, or in record sales. We have been challenged by campus climate issues for a while now. Might this be a way to see how an artist who lives, breaths political struggle, yet brings hope to others through music? Students and the community may not realize what an amazing artist and soul within our midst. But we hope that given the opportunity, some just might take a chance and find themselves in the midst of a life-transforming experience.

The Idan Raichel Project’s latest album, Quarter To Six,debuted at number 1 on the iTunes World Music Chart and has been touted as one of the best albums of the year.


The album features guest appearances by Portuguese fado star Ana Moura, Palestinian-Israeli singer Mira Awad, German counter-tenor Andreas Scholl, Colombia’s Marta Gómez, Vieux Farka Touré (who had recently performed at Zoellner on October 13th) and a selection of some of Israel’s top up-and-coming singers and musicians.

OK – don’t just take our word for it – here is a review of the Miami Concert, posted 10/18/2013 on the Huffington Post. If a review of last Friday’s concert doesn’t inspire you – maybe a video will. Enjoy:

Government Shutdown & National Arts & Humanities Month

Day two of the federal government shutdown has some citizens feeling the immediate sting of furloughs, or eliminated services. Others won’t be directly impacted until they start realizing that access to services or national treasures is halted.

Until the federal government is back to normal operations, national parks, national monuments, the entire Smithsonian institute; all the museums and even the Panda Cam at the National Zoo, are all off line.

Screen shot of Smithsonian Portrait Gallery website

Screen shot of Smithsonian Portrait Gallery website

What is a bit disappointing, is that October is National Arts & Humanities month. While we celebrate the arts every day in our work at Lehigh University, October is the month to commemorate the arts in a much bigger way. Even though the staff for the National Endowment for the Arts and the National Endowment for the Humanities are on furlough until elected leaders figure things out, we can localize our understanding of what this month means.

According to the Pennsylvania Arts Education Network,

National Arts and Humanities Month (NAHM) is a coast-to-coast collective recognition of the importance of culture in America. It is designed to encourage all Americans to explore new facets of the arts and humanities in their lives, and to begin a lifelong habit of active participation in the arts and humanities.

It was established in 1993 and is celebrated every October in the United States. It was initiated to encourage Americans to explore new facets of the arts and humanities in their lives, and to begin a lifelong habit of participation in the arts and humanities. It has become the nation’s largest collective annual celebration of the arts.

National Arts and Humanities Month’s four goals are:

  • To create a national, state and local focus on the arts and humanities through the media,
  • To encourage the participation of individuals, as well as arts, humanities and other organizations nationwide,
  • To provide an opportunity for federal, state and local business, government and civic leaders to declare their support for the arts and humanities,
  • To establish a highly visible vehicle for raising public awareness about the arts and humanities.

In an effort to celebrate the artistic and cultural heritage of our nation, we encourage all readers to share their appreciation for our shared treasures. On campus, in the city of Bethlehem, in the State of Pennsylvania, and even in communities around the country – there is evidence of great pride in the various expressions of who we are as people. Take a moment to wonder at the human spirit of creativity and expression. And if you are so moved to appreciate the work of artists in all genres and thinkers in all industries, be creative in your own celebration.


ArtsAlive 2013

This gallery contains 16 photos.

The 9th annual ArtsAlive Prelusion program was filled with activities for nine new students to Lehigh University. PreLUsion programs “jump start” a student’s Lehigh University experience before evoLUtion (a.k.a. “freshmen orientation”) begins. ArtsAlive is one of ten programs that gives students a chance to meet others with common interests. ArtsAlive is designed for incoming students … Continue reading

Mid-summer reflection

life-reflectionWe have officially entered the mid-way point of our summer. Commencement was seven weeks ago. Orientation begins in seven weeks. Hard to believe, even harder to accept. As many of us head into a lovely 4-day weekend, I hope our readers have time to reflect on their goals for their summer. It may be time to make some adjustments in your daily routine.

This is Arts@Lehigh’s mid-summer reflection time, too. We are always happy to serve our community in the weekly newsletters, our social media sharing of news and events, and dialogue about the arts on campus and in our community. But in our reflection, we wish to include our readers in the assessment of our work.

What do you wish for us to do more? Would you like to know where we get our ideas? This is the time we begin to make plans for the next academic year/arts season. If you’d like to include this communication resource to help support your efforts, we’d love to help. Please contact Silagh White by email to let the creative partnerships in communicating our fantastic arts scene begin.

Are You a Princess?


Have you ever wished you had time to read the book before you found out an international renowned author was coming to campus? Do you wish for time to read the work of an author, reflect on  ideas, perhaps even engage intellectual dialogue with an academic colleague?

Well you have the power in your own ruby slippers to make this happen. Click your heels three times and join the Women’s Center for a book discussion in preparation for Peggy Orenstein‘s upcoming visit to Lehigh, part of Zoellner Arts Center’s 2013-2014 Season.

We will read and discuss Orenstein’s popular book, Cinderella Ate My Daughter: Dispatches from the Front Lines of the New Girlie-Girl Culture.

Chapters 1-6:
Tuesday, June 11 at 8am-9am or Wednesday, June 12 at 3pm-4pm
Discussion led by Brooke DeSipio, assistant director of the Women’s Center

Chapters 7-10:
Tuesday, June 18 at 8am-9am or Wednesday, June 19 at 12pm-1pm
Discussion led by Rita Jones, director of the Women’s Center

Please rsvp with Traci Mindler ( or phone 610-758-6484) by 5pm TODAY (May 22) to reserve your complimentary copy of the book and to note which dates you will attend. You will receive a follow-up email after you rsvp.

Campus Arts Centers are more than “boxes” for entertainment

There are so many special moments that happen inside an arts center. One expects arts administrators to brag epic performances by world renown artists. But this post is dedicated to the other “epic” events that happen inside the brick and mortar of the Zoellner Arts Center. For each activity listed, there was a series of conversations between faculty, staff and administrators to facilitate these transformative moments for our students. Because that’s what we do.

These are but a few of the moments that happened in the last few weeks:



Students from Art 135-Painting II (Professor Berrisford Booth) displayed their paintings and select architecture drawings in the Zoellner Arts Center green room for former Secretary of State Dr. Madeleine K. Albright’s enjoyment prior to her lecture on “Cultural Understanding and Tolerance” in Baker Hall, February 12, 2013.

But this sin’t the only amazing thing the visual arts students are up to. In fact, the Department of Art, Architecture and Design has been doing some amazing things with their website, including student achievement news. Want to see the winning design for this year’s Lehigh T-shirt? We’re going to make you click here to see it.

Mark Hollman bow

image by Christopher Eshleman, all rights reserved. ©2013

Last Friday night, as the cast and crew of Urinetown were taking their bows, they were joined by Mark Hollman. Hollman won the 2002 Tony Award for music and lyrics to Urinetown. Hollman also visited the cast and crew during rehearsals in February.

The opportunity for students to meet the person who wrote the work of art is tremendous. To have time and access to receive feedback from the artist is extraordinary.


image by Christopher Eshleman, all rights reserved. ©2013

Students who perform with the Lehigh University Jazz Ensemble also had a few spectacular moments with a great artist. Jazz trumpeter Randy Brecker, who has appeared on hundreds of albums by a wide range of artists from James Taylor, Bruce Springsteen and Parliament-Funkadelic to Frank Sinatra, Steely Dan, David Sanborn, Jaco Pastorius, Horace Silver and Frank Zappa.

Students were able to spend  couple of hours in rehearsals on Saturday, as well as share the stage for the concert that night.

Years from now, all of these students will remember these moments. We thank all of the faculty, staff, administrators and sponsors who helped this moments happen.