Approaching Allentown from the northwest we visited Broomsburg, the Columbia County seat. An impressive courthouse on Main Street was begun in 1848, has an 1868 addition, and a newer front building and facade from 1980, designed by A. S. Wagner in classic Romanesque Revival brownstone. To the courthouse’s west there is a wonderful Art Deco building, with the name of The Farmers National Bank still visible. In the nineteenth century Bloomsburg went through iron ore mining and production and textile manufacturing. These industries apparently produced civic-minded citizens who wanted a town they could be proud of, with a fountain, civil war monument, and park-like avenues. The town planning and old houses are fascinating. On Market Street the (probably) biggest of the turn-of-the-century mansions looks down on the town from it’s centered and elevated site.
Travelling from Bloomsburg to Allentown we went through the Lehigh Tunnel through Blue Mountain. It’s wonderful country with fabulous views of the Pocono Mountains with forests, small towns, and farmland.
William Baziotes, Yellow Bull's Head, 1936-39
At the Allentown Art Museum, the William Baziotes Surrealist Watercolors show was as wonderful as ever. Seeing it a second time was revelatory! It was all so fresh and bright. But that made the lightening threating the swimmer more dangerous and the bulls’ heads more ferocious.
The circus-themed amoebas were outdoing themselves, and the gritty roof tiles under the Sunbather practically sparkled. On view through August 23.
Doylestown was our next stop. The Michener Art Museum was showing Iron and Coal, Petroleum and Steel: Industrial Art from the Steidle Collection (owned by Pennsylvania State University), on view through October 25. With the exception of Rockwell Kent and Henry Varnum Poor, most of these New Deal Era artists were unknown to me, including a new favorite, Molly Wheeler Wood Pitz. Using categories of Big Steel, The Worker, and King Cole, and including glass blowing and stone quarries, the curator, Kirsten Jensen allowed the grandeur of the subjects to speak for themselves. All the drama of blast furnaces and night-shift mining comes through, along with grim realities of the soot-coated houses and hardly conscious laborers. Definitely my kind of show. Thank you Bill M.