RedBall Project Bouncing into Bethlehem for SouthSide Arts & Music Festival
What’s red, weighs 250 pounds, is 15 foot in diameter and has appeared everywhere from London Bridge to the Eiffel Tower? This April, Bethlehem and the Lehigh Valley will find out as the RedBall Project makes its first appearance in the Northeastern United States.
Made possible in part through the County of Northampton’s Hotel Tax Grant Program, the RedBall Project will appear in Bethlehem April 18-22, noon-7 p.m. daily, as part of the SouthSide Arts & Music Festival (SSAMF) presented by Capital BlueCross taking place April 20-21. Launched in 2001 by artist Kurt Perschke, the unique public art project is designed to highlight its host city’s architectural landscape and history by showing up in new and unexpected locations each day. During SSAMF, RedBall will appear in five locations throughout the city, with most of these locations in south Bethlehem in an effort to draw residents and visitors to the SouthSide Arts District’s restaurants, shops and businesses.
“Northampton County is pleased to assist ArtsQuest in bringing the iconic experience of the RedBall to the Lehigh Valley,” says Northampton County Executive Lamont McClure. “It is our hope that this unique art project will enhance the SouthSide Arts & Music Festival, while bringing additional tourists to the Lehigh Valley as a result.”
Since its debut, RedBall has appeared in more than 25 cities in Europe, Asia, Australia and North America including Barcelona, Calgary, Montreal, Paris and Sydney. Made of architectural fabric, the travelling public art piece is considered the world’s longest-running street art work. It has received extensive coverage by media around the globe, with Sculpture Magazine saying, “With RedBall’s occupation of urban spaces, what used to be neglected becomes a realm of possibilities.” The ball is inflated and deflated each day, magically appearing the next day wedged between buildings, dangling from a bridge or even adjacent to some of the world’s most iconic landmarks.
“Bethlehem is one of the smaller cities that the RedBall Project has appeared in so we are honored to bring this dynamic art installation to the Lehigh Valley,” says ArtsQuest President and CEO Kassie Hilgert. “We thank the County of Northampton and Northampton County Council for providing the grant to help make this public art project possible. The presentation of RedBall helps to further establish our city and our county as a unique destination for world-class art and experiences. In addition, it will be one of the anchors of the SouthSide Arts & Music Festival, drawing visitors from near and far to our region.”
An Ashville, N.C.-based artist, Perschke developed RedBall as part of an urban art project for the Arts in Transit Program in St. Louis. An artist who works in sculpture, video, collage and public space, he also creates modern dance set designs for the Kate Weare Company in New York. Perschke has completed commissions for several institutions including the Barcelona Museum of Contemporary Art, the Vienna Technical Museum and the Contemporary Art Museum in St. Louis. His video work has been screened in Europe and the U.S., as well as at the Bronx Museum during his time as an AIM Fellow.
“Art is so important for starting conversations, and we hope that RedBall will excite both residents and visitors, showing them that public art can be interactive and fun,” says ArtsQuest Sr. Manager of Visual Arts Hillary Harper. “We are thrilled to share this project during the SouthSide Arts & Music Festival, highlighting how much the Lehigh Valley has to offer, including hosting world-class art installations.”
Bethlehem’s RedBall locations will be announced in early- to-mid April at steelstacks.org and the SouthSide Arts & Music Festival Facebook page. More information on the RedBall Project can be found at redballproject.com/bethlehem. Learn more about this year’s SouthSide Arts & Music Festival, including the Lehigh Valley Underground free stage lineup, at steelstacks.org.