Spend the holidays on the ‘Avenue of the Arts’
This holiday season, are you interested in taking a pleasant walk, getting some great deals on gifts, and seeing some excellent art?
Of course you are. Who isn’t? Which means that downtown Williamsport may be the place to go.
The best place to begin is at Lycoming Arts, at 220 West Fourth Street. This organization is dedicated to making art accessible and enjoyable, and they have created a colorful map to the “Avenue of the Arts.” This is a map of the greater Fourth Street area, showing where all of the art is located. Lycoming Arts has a broad definition, which makes the map helpful for practically everyone. It includes public art, performing arts, culinary arts, literature, and architecture. When you visit Williamsport, you’re definitely going to want to get a copy of this map. (You can also preview or download it here!)
As you walk along Fourth Street, the map will show you the names and locations of some wonderful public art. Very near the Genetti Hotel is “Inspiration Lycoming County,” which is a huge, colorful mural covering three buildings and spanning six hundred feet. It was done by artist Michael Pilato, and shows many people and incidents from the fascinating history of the county.
Right in front of it is “Two Sisters,” a sculpture carved from stone from Lycoming Creek by John Kohr. It was designed as a memorial to two literal sisters, Lois Graham-Cumming and M. Lucile Gordner. Right beside these works is the Bullfrog Brewery, a wonderful place to stop for lunch.
No matter what you’re doing or where you’re going, it’s definitely worth a moment to stop and see “Bases Loaded,” a collection of ten life-sized bronze statues that celebrate Williamsport as the birthplace of Little League Baseball. This piece of work covers the entire Market Square intersection, so when you stop to look at it, you are essentially in the game.
Created by Matt Glenn of Provo, Utah, the work not only celebrates the Little League, but also diversity, with people from the past, Asians, Hispanics, and African-Americans all depicted playing the game. The more you stand and look at it, the more you’ll notice, there’s a lot to see about this piece of art.
Back on Fourth Street, you’ll find the metal “Heart of Downtown” sculpture, a seven-foot tall piece shaped like a heart.
And right next to it, at 102 West Fourth Street, is the Lycoming County Visitor’s Bureau Information Center, which, in addition to offering brochures and visitor information, is the home of the Pennsylvania Wilds Conservation Shop. There, you can buy gifts made in the PA Wilds by local artisans. For the record, I bought a T-shirt there while I researched this article, and I love it.
“By taking home a piece of the PA Wilds with a purchase either from our physical or online shops, customers make a difference in our local economies and support the PA Wilds Center’s non-profit mission to work with partners to expand the nature and heritage tourism industry as a way to create jobs, diversify local economies, inspire stewardship, and improve quality of life,” comments Elizabeth Bloomquist, manager of the Conservation Shops. “Our shop inside the Lycoming County Visitor Bureau offers a small selection of PA made items to include PA Wilds branded t-shirts, books, travel mugs, hats, and tote bags. These items are not only great for those visiting the area, but make great gift giving ideas as well.”
Another must-see spot in the area is the Pajama Factory, at 1307 Park Avenue. Created in 2008 in an unused factory, the organization describes itself as “established and emerging artists, businesses, entrepreneurs, craftspeople, and community groups.” The Pajama Factory holds monthly events, such as the Annual Holiday Market that was held on December 8. And on December 30th, beginning at 6 PM, the Seventh Annual Blues Bash begins to ring in the New Year with music and refreshments.
Not tired yet? There’s still more art to see. Sculptures and visual art such as “Bound To Bloom” and “Urban Forrest” decorate the community, and along Third Street, an elaborate bas relief that shows the history of Williamsport decorates the south wall of the local transit center.
Your trip to Williamsport is guaranteed to be fun and productive. With one day trip, you can get all of your holiday shopping done, and have a wonderful time, as well. Have a great holiday…And, by the way, I’m a size eleven.
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