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Bethlehem, Pennsylvania

A model of The Bridge by Elena Colombo. Image courtesy of Colombo Construction Corporation.

ArtsQuest's SteelStacks cultural campus in Bethlehem, Pennsylvania, is pretty spectacular thanks to the massive blast furnaces of the former Bethlehem Steel plant towering on one side and a new glass-fronted arts center soon to be completed on the other side. A new fire sculpture is going to make it even more spectacular. You may remember we wrote about ArtsQuest back in July when we announced our 21 grants for the NEA?s Mayors? Institute on City Design 25th Anniversary Initiative. They received a grant to support the design, construction, and placement of a site-specific work at the center of the outdoor Town Square plaza of SteelStacks campus.

This week, after a nationwide search, ArtsQuest announced the winner of that commission---Elena Colombo, a native of Scranton, Pennsylvania. Colombo will create a 35-ton steel arch that swoops in a dramatic curve across a street toward the remains of the steelworks. The sculpture, nicknamed The Bridge, will be supported by I-beams just like those produced by Bethlehem Steel. The surface of the work will feature panels, each inscribed with the name of a bridge or building that used steel from the Bethlehem furnaces. (Two of Bethlehem Steel?s better-known projects are New York City?s Chrysler Building and the San Francisco Bay Bridge.)

The arch will be crowned with a vein of flame, which starts eight to 10 feet above the ground and runs almost the length of the work. Fed by a 550,000 BTU gas line, the flame will be visible in the evenings. The Bridge is expected to be completed in May 2011.

ArtsQuest President Jeff Parks noted that Colombo's sculpture symbolizes a bridge to the future and ?will express the aspiration of our community to be a vital part of the cultural growth of the 21st-century Bethlehem.?

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