Downtown Allentown's new sculpture "The Curtain" explained
Name: "The Curtain"
Dimensions: 30' wide x 8' high x 1' deep
Materials: Powder coated laser cut folded 11 gauge steel, LED lighting.
Weight: just over 1000 pounds
Theater drapes summon a sense of anticipation; like wrapping paper, inspiring delight and stirring feelings of hopeful fantasy and wonder. They are the decorative barrier between the audience and stage – the transient veil of a performance or an event – a grand window dressing of an unfolding narrative.
The Curtain, produced by husband and wife team, artists Angela Fraleigh and Wesley Heiss, is a powder-coated, laser cut, folded steel form, measuring 30' wide x 8' high x 1' deep. The monumental abstract artwork represents a celebration of the lasting contributions made by Miller Symphony Hall — the historic, 1200-seat theater over the years has offered vaudeville, operas, plays, dramatic skits, films and concerts, and also became one of the leading burlesque halls in the United States. It was known as one of the nation’s leading “tryout” theaters; a place where new stage shows appeared before being taken to Broadway in nearby NYC.
The artwork also serves as a reflection on the proud history of textile production in Allentown. In the late 1800’s there were twenty-three silk establishments in the Lehigh Valley alone, helping to make Pennsylvania the second largest producer of silk in the world. The Curtain’s 30 foot long folded panels are perforated with a popular textile pattern dating back to the 1899 opening of the Lyric Theater (the original name of Miller Symphony Hall) and representative of time when the silk business was a thriving Allentown industry.
Although theater drapes are typically exclusive to interior spaces, the abstraction draws that feeling of suspense out onto the street. As night falls and the lights go down, The Curtain is illuminated by LED lights sparkling through the thousands of perforations that compose the art deco fan print, imbuing a bit of magic and sensory experience emblematic of a stage performance.
This timeless work of art might transport viewers not only to a far off time set within Allentown’s past, but hopefully helps to also conjure a fantastical future in the minds of the inhabitants of our cities today, and for years to come.