by Elizabeth Johnson
Karl Stirner Arts Trail Fundraiser, October 5th 2014, 3-5 pm, Pfenning Hall
Last weekend I met Monica Seligmann and her wire-haired fox terrier, Bosco, for an early morning stroll down the Karl Stirner Arts Trail in Easton. As a leader of the Friends of the Karl Stirner Arts Trail and as a member of the Bushkill Creek Corridor Council for the Arts, Monica is the person responsible for conveying information between the two entities. We passed under Karl’s massive red arch and Bosco pointed his nose towards the water and pulled; but we walked on, settling in on a bench in the dog park, near a mock fire hydrant installed expressly for the dogs.
Monica joined the Karl Stirner Arts Trail initiative around 2012, and she exercises Bosco here in all kinds of weather. She loves that the trail combines nature and art, and she gives a great deal of thought to how others might enjoy it and the kinds of art they’d like to see. She’s invested in public art as a means to broaden and deepen the general consensus of how art might be pleasing as it stretches one’s expectations. She teaches Art to adults and children at the Allentown Art Museum and facilitates the Young Masters Wall program on the west end of KSAT with former and current Lafayette College students; to name a few: Jade Saybolt, Tatiana Troxell, and Emma Spencer. The Young Masters Wall provides a visual, public forum for young artists and their families; and thus far, the program has hosted painting events in partnership with Safe Harbor Shelter, the Boy Scouts, the Spring Garden Children’s Center, Easton Area Community Center, the Boys and Girls Club of Easton, and Easton High School.
As for a long-range vision for the trail, I talked to Ed Kerns, the Eugene H. Clapp II ’36 Professor of Art at Lafayette College. He anticipates “a continual arts advocacy by arts professionals who might enlarge the vision of how the trail serves the community,” and having been an informal advisor to Easton during 2007-2008, Ed would like to see “artistic preference be the driving force behind the KSAT.”
But more immediately, practical concerns keep the Friends of KSAT busy. Monica, along with Dick and Mary Jane Macateer, Suzanne Newhard, Adam Fairchild, Jeffery Gilbert, Ollie Andes, Tom D’Angelo, and Amy Boccadoro solicited friends and family’s help for a recent Clean-Up Day, and over 50 people attended. In fact, several folks who happened to be out enjoying the trail joined in spontaneously. Bulb-planting events raise the question of how to plan plantings along the trail and what to plant; and this past year, the KSAT aesthetic favored a natural and sporadic array of daffodils, narcissi and grape hyacinths.
A local attorney jogged up to chat with Monica after his third lap along the KSAT and through the Easton Cemetery with his dog. The dog owners and daily walkers seem to know each other–at least by sight–and this lends a cosy feeling to being out on the trail. Monica looks forward to a fully curated KSAT, when twenty to thirty, non-permanent sculptures are installed alongside the handful of permanent pieces, and she considers the possibility of a 5K run, poetry readings, community picnics, family festivals, movie night, and dance or rap groups performing on the lawn.
Together, we checked out the newest addition to the KSAT: David Kimball Anderson’s Hydrogen and Nitrogen, finished our walk, and then I continued home. Over my shoulder I saw Monica and Bosco framed for just a moment under Karl’s piece.