City Center Investment Corp., the real estate development company revitalizing downtown Allentown, Pennsylvania, announced today it has commissioned three murals for Allentown’s ArtsWalk. Painted this spring by world-renowned artists from around the country, the murals will adorn outside walls of the historic Sovereign building, the Linden Parking Deck and the STRATA Annex building.
The first muralist, Miami-based Ernesto Maranje, began his work on the rear corner of the Sovereign building at 609 Hamilton Street on April 22. Maranje, a master painter, illustrator and muralist of animals, will spray-paint a large-scale red-tailed hawk on the wall overlooking the ArtsWalk pocket park. With an extensive worldwide collection, Maranje paints colorful, whimsical works that remind viewers of their connection to nature. The red-tailed hawk was chosen for Allentown to symbolize the tenacity and freedom of the region. The 50-foot by 50-foot mural will be completed in approximately two weeks.
A second mural, created by Brooklyn artist ELLE, is slated to begin at the end of May on the rear of the parking deck at 612 Linden Street, facing the ArtsWalk. ELLE’s mural, which is in the final design stages, will feature a strong woman representing the future, and made through the combination of history, mythology, various ethnicities, contemporary ideas and more. The mural is meant to show the perseverance and power of women. Although ELLE began as an illegal graffiti artist in New York, she is now considered one of the world’s top touring street artists and has worked with brands Reebok, IKEA, Smart Car and many more. ELLE was selected because of her recognized style of collaging images of people with various ethnicities. Her 60-foot-tall by 30-foot-wide spray-painted mural will also take roughly two weeks to produce.
The third mural is planned for the STRATA Annex building across the ArtsWalk from The Downtown Allentown Market, which is scheduled to open in the fall. Collaborative mural and street-art team NS/CB of Miami will begin their botanical-themed mural June 15.
“City Center is excited to introduce more public art in downtown Allentown,” said City Center Vice President of Project Design and Corporate Branding Jane Heft, who coordinated the project. “We hope it will inspire the community and become a source of pride for those who live and work here. The ArtsWalk will be alive with new beauty this summer.”
The muralists were curated by Dripped On Productions of New York City, an art production company specializing in murals and street art for developments, events and businesses, such as MasterCard, Pabst Blue Ribbon and ArtsQuest. The company’s CEO and cofounder, Denton Burrows, earned a bachelor’s degree in fine art from Lehigh University.
“Dripped On Productions has set its sights on Allentown in partnership with City Center to beautify and transform major parts of downtown Allentown with professionally executed murals and works to brighten, beautify and inspire a historical and diverse city,” Burrows said.
Allentown’s pedestrian-only ArtsWalk begins on Seventh Street across from the PPL Center and runs east past the STRATA West and East residential buildings to Sixth Street. It continues along both sides of Miller Symphony Hall and through the Arts Park to end at the Allentown Art Museum on Fifth Street.
City Center Investment Corp. previously commissioned two large-scale murals in downtown Allentown. In 2016, Amber Art and Design of Philadelphia installed a colorful stylized sunrise on the southwest corner of the Linden Parking Deck, facing the ArtsWalk, and in 2018, muralist Matt Halm created a seven-story mural inside a glass-enclosed stairwell in 520 Lofts, City Center’s residential building at 520 Hamilton Street.