Noted Easton artist Karl Stirner was on hand Thursday to help break ground on the arts trail that will bear his name.
More than a decade in the planning, it is hoped that the Karl Stirner Arts Trail will be completed by fall, city officials said. About 80 people turned out for the groundbreaking ceremony near the Bushkill Creek bridge at Pearl and Bushkill streets.
Joining the West Ward and College Hill neighborhoods with Downtown, the trail runs along the Bushkill Creek and will combine the beauty of nature with art.
“This is a critical project in a regional trail plan,” said Becky Bradley, Easton's chief planner, noting that the trail will connect Lafayette College with the Simon Silk Mill revitalization project.
Local state Rep. Bob Freeman (D-136) praised the project and the city's efforts that made it a reality.
“We are very fortunate to have the talent to pull this all together,” Freeman said, adding that Stirner saw Easton's potential as an arts community decades ago and has worked to support that vision ever since. “Karl was a pioneer in so many ways. So it's very fitting that he lends his name to this project.”
Easton Mayor Sal Panto thanked the many responsible parties that cooperated to make the trail happen, including city staff, the county, the state, local legislatures, Lafayette College and others, but most especially Stirner himself.
“Karl Stirner is, in my mind, what our community wants to become,” Panto said.
He said the art for the trail will be juried by a board of governance, whose members will be handpicked arts professionals to ensure the highest quality exhibitions.
“It won't be a political decision (who gets to exhibit),” Panto said.
Stirner praised the vision of Easton and it's hard work to make city improvements over the years.
“I feel so lucky to have come to this town,” he said. “There are just so many possibilities (in Easton).”
For the trail itself, Stirner said the number of pieces of art was less important than it's quality.
“I think we should hold out for the best, and show only the best, year after year,” Stirner said.
The trail will host art for the first time this summer, with the city's Urban Arts Exhibition, made possible by a grant by the National Endowment for the Arts, city officials have previously announced.