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Wired Gallery and Frame, 79 West Market Street, Suite 400, Bethlehem
It's a Manhattan-style loft with lots of natural light, located just a block away from Bethlehem's bustling Main Street. Three large floor-to-ceiling windows impressively announce ''Wired'' from its second-story quarters to the world. From street level, pedestrians can see the top halves of huge paintings, arcing sculptures and whole pieces of smaller works, enticing all to enter.
Wired just opened its doors in June. Run by Brian Evans and Larry Skahill, both photographers who recently won awards for their images, the owners bring a wealth of experience to the venture. Evans worked 10 years at Dan's Camera City in Allentown, honing his skills in custom framing and learning the nuances of a successful business operation. He's noted for taking a three-month, cross-country road trip to document the beauty of the American landscape. Skahill has 23 years under his belt as a technology professional at Dun & Bradstreet.
Skahill's skills were evident at Wired's packed opening night: he had the gallery's computer set up to project a video (transferred to DVD) by John James Spadaccia onto the gallery's back wall.
The partners say they were drawn to the historic downtown environment because of the art and educational culture endemic of Bethlehem. ''Our intentions are to integrate the retail and art culture,'' Evans explains, ''that seem to be key to the success and the future of the historic downtown area.''
With both owners skilled in photography, one might think Wired would be weighted toward camera work. But the new gallery is currently representing a well-rounded, if small, stable: painter Paul Harryn, photo-collagist Phil Stein, sculptor Kevin Kostelnik and video artist Spadaccia.
Monsoon Gallery, 11 East Third Street, Bethlehem
Arizona artist Julie Anne Gibson presses flowers to create unique designs of minute detail bursting with color. But you don't have to travel cross-country to find them they're right in Bethlehem at Monsoon Gallery.
Located in the heart of Bethlehem's South Side, Monsoon carries a roster of acclaimed artists like Gibson from around the country and around the globe.
Priding itself on customer service and its strong relationships with its artists, the gallery offers a distinct collection of original oils, limited edition serigraphs and glass sculptures. It also caters to every client's framing needs. Just one year of age, Monsoon is already a favorite stopping point for tourists at First Friday and not just for its Indian cuisine.
Owner/director Ranjeet Pawar is realizing his dream of not just creating a gallery but turning it into a larger cultural venue. ''I want people to come here and experience something,'' says Pawar, ''and leave knowing they were here.''
He has sponsored numerous shows for local talent, brought in classically trained Indian dancers and offered wine-tasting events.
He has even lent his space for the inauguration of the South Side Film Festival, putting film maker merchandise on sale and contributing frames for 35 different awards.
Monsoon continues to deliver exceptional works from all over the country. In July, it hosts a show of Texan painter/collagist Ginger Cook, who was nominated 2003's ''Artist of the Year'' by the Academy of Fine Arts Foundation.