Arts Around Town

Arts Around Town: Fraktur art form featured at Kutztown Folk Festival

There are some new features in the lineup for the 68th annual Kutztown Folk Festival, which will begin Saturday and run through July 9, at the Kutztown Fairgrounds, 225 North Whiteoak Street. Aside from the great Pennsylvania Dutch menu, juried folk artists and traditional American craftsmen, and stages of entertainment, there is a history lesson to be learned with the addition of two Pennsylvania German historical organizations.

The Kutztown Folk Festival has long been known for its offerings of Pennsylvania German culture, history, and folklife presentations. Now, visitors can delve deeper with presentations and classes on the Pennsylvania German art form known as fraktur. This has been made possible from the partnership of the Schwenkfelder Library & Heritage Center in Pennsburg, Montgomery County, and the Mennonite Heritage Center in Harleysville, Montgomery County.

The art of fraktur was the common way to compose birth certificates and marriage licenses between 1740 and 1860. Many times, frakturs can be viewed as framed works of art in historic structures in and around the Lehigh Valley or the Lancaster area. The lettering is very stylized and quite elaborate as illuminated folk art created by the Pennsylvania Dutch (also known as Pennsylvania Deitsch or Pennsylvania German).

Fraktur classes will take place daily at the festival's recently refurbished one-room schoolhouse, where historians will be on hand to tell all on the lifestyles of Mennonites and early Pennsylvania Dutch residents in the eastern Pennsylvania area.

After sampling a fraktur class, there is plenty more to do walking around the festival grounds, with historic folklife presentations, an authentic tinsmith shop, the 19-piece Shippensburg Blaskapelle German Brass Band (on July 8), and the functional 20,000-pound 1910 Case, Model-75 steam traction engine, said to be one of the largest portable steam engines built.

More than 200 of the country’s finest craftsmen will be scattered about the Festival grounds, and more than 2,500 locally handmade quilts will be on display, recognized as America’s Largest Quilt Sale.

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The Berks Arts Council announces an eclectic lineup for its 27th annual Bandshell Concert Series at the Volunteer Firemen's Memorial Bandshell in Reading's City Park. The free performances begin July 7 and take place every Friday at 7 p.m. during July.

According to Berks Arts Council Executive Director Karen Haver, the series will explore a different genre each week and include a special performance from the U.S. tour of Gabriel Alegria's Afro-Peruvian Sextet sponsored in part through tour support from the Peruvian Ministry of Culture.

Pre-show entertainment provided by local arts organizations begins at 6:15 p.m.

Singer-songwriter-guitarist Murali Coryell opens the season on July 7. The son of jazz guitar legend Larry Coryell, Murali was inducted into the New York Blues Hall of Fame and was a 2014 BMA nominee for DVD of the year.

The Slambovian Circus of Dreams brings its eclectic musical style on July 14, with an extensive instrumental arsenal and a range from 'hillbilly-Pink Floyd' to 'folk-pop' to 'surreal Americana.'

On July 21, Peru's Gabriel Alegria Afro-Peruvian Sextet delivers their unique synthesis of folkloric Afro-Peruvian rhythms, jazz, and other musical strains.

The season wraps with The Apocalypse Blues Revue on July 28, merging traditional blues and heavier elements.

Concert-goers are encouraged to bring blankets, lawn chairs, and dancing shoes for enjoyment.

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The Macungie Band performs Sunday at 6 p.m. at Emmaus Community Park in Emmaus, Lehigh County. Then, it's on to the Old-Fashioned 4th of July at 11:30 a.m. at Macungie Memorial Park, 50 Poplar Street, Macungie, Lehigh County.

Other concerts with the Macungie Band are July 14 at 7:30 p.m. at the Bethlehem Rose Garden Bandshell; July 30 at 7:30 p.m. at West Park in Allentown, and August 5 at 10:30 a.m. at Das Awkscht Fescht at Macungie Memorial Park.

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The sixth annual Independence Day celebration takes place at SteelStacks in Bethlehem. Musical entertainment for the weekend includes: Sunday – TD Community Stage on Air Products Town Square beginning at 11:30 a.m. - Peas and Qs Family Show with Dave Fry; Sing for America; Caribbean Steel Rhythms; Common Band, and Mike Mettalia and the Midnight Shift. The Box Tops will perform at 7:30 p.m. at Levitt Pavilion.

On Monday at the TD Community Stage at 3 p.m., it’s the Brian Dean Moore Band, and Lou Franco Project. Drew Baldridge performs at 7:30 p.m. at Levitt Pavilion.

On Independence Day at the TD Community Stage at 3 p.m., it's The BC Combo, and The Wallace Brothers. The Allentown Band performs at 7:30 p.m. at the Levitt Pavilion.

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The Trajectory Heart Project by internationally-recognized artist designer Thomas Mann is a community project taking place throughout July with local students and professional artists working with Mann to create the Trajectory Heart sculpture in downtown Allentown near the Arts Walk. The event is being hosted by Penn State Lehigh Valley, Center Valley.

The final sculpture will be transported around the Lehigh Valley and photographed in various sites as a way to connect it to the community. Its final home will be in center city Allentown, as a gift from the artist, according to Penn State Lehigh Valley.

Mann will be conducting workshops and exhibits: July 14 and 15, 9 a.m. to 4 p.m., "The Found Object Sandwich," Penn State Lehigh Valley; July 20, noon to 2 p.m., "Artist as Artrepreneur," Allentown Art Museum, and July 21 and 22, 9 a.m. to 4 p.m., "Design for Survival: Entrepreneurial Thinking and Tactics for Artists," The Baum School of Art, Allentown.

Community partners are Re:Find Gallery, City Center, Lehigh Valley Arts Council, Cultural Coalition of Allentown, Allentown Art Museum, and The Baum School of Art.

The Trajectory Heart Project is the invention of Mann, who IMAGINEERED the first Trajectory Heart sculpture during an artist-in-residence program in 2009 with the Studios of Key West, Florida.

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Northampton Community College Summer Theatre presents Arnold Lobel's  "A Year with Frog and Toad," beginning Wednesday and continuing through August 5 at the campus theater, 3835 Green Pond Road, Bethlehem. Director is Bill Mutimer.

The whimsical story follows two great friends – the cheerful, popular Frog and the rather grumpy Toad, but they celebrate and rejoice in the differences that make them unique and special.

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