Show House Embodies Love and Support of the Arts in Lehigh Valley

Designers, landscapers, stagers, and artists recently descended on Dutch Colonial house on Greenleaf Street in West End Allentown and transformed it into a vibrant showcase for fashions, visions, and ideas meant to inspire those who visit it.

It was all part of the much-beloved fundraising event known as the Society of the Arts (SOTA) Show House, held every two years to raise money and awareness for the Allentown Art Museum.

This year’s showcase house, entitled Greenleaf, was the subject of a recent episode of the Lehigh Valley with Love podcast, and stands as a stark example of the vibrant arts community in the Lehigh Valley, as well as the way the community comes together to support its programs and organizations.

“I think what’s interesting about our organization is our members come from such a variety of places, careers, backgrounds, but what brings us all together is just a love of art,” said SOTA President Val Johnson. “That’s our common bond: a love of art and of the community, and the Allentown Art Museum is the perfect place to bring those two things together.”

The Lehigh Valley with Love podcast is sponsored by Made Possible in Lehigh Valley. The episode about Greenleaf, which first aired April 29, was also video-recorded live on location and can be watched on YouTube or seen below:

SOTA is a 501(c)(3) nonprofit cultural organization founded in 1964 with a mission to support the Allentown Art Museum’s presentation of outstanding artistic programs. It organizes several events and programs throughout the year, and has hosted 17 Show House fundraisers since starting them in the 1970s.

The Show House is their most visible and famous event, but SOTA was unable to host one in 2020 due to the COVID-19 pandemic, so this year’s event was all the more meaningful to the organization and community, and as Lehigh Valley with Love podcast host George Wacker said, “the excitement was palpable.”

“People just love to see the transformation of the house,” said Jill Stevens, 2022 SOTA co-chair. “It’s kind of a little bit of DIY; they see it and just get ideas for their own homes. People love it, they really do.”

Max Weintraub was named the President & CEO of the Allentown Art Museum in 2020, and to him the Show House reflects one of the things that most attracted him to the Lehigh Valley: “the backing and the strength of the community,” both with regard to the museum and the Lehigh Valley in general.

“The museum was founded during the Depression by a group of civic-minded leaders, and it was really founded on the idea of community,” Weintraub said. “I think SOTA is one of the finest examples of that community and the way it supports and backs the museum through thick and thin.”

The podcast episode includes discussions about the history of both organizations, how SOTA pivoted its offerings during the COVID-19 crisis, how the organization was able to help support the museum during the pandemic.

“We just came through a really challenging time and SOTA was there to support us,” Weintraub said. “There’s financial support, (but) also they support us with countless volunteer horus that make our programs possible, so that we’re constantly serving the community in the way the community wants and needs us here for them.”

Visit here to learn more about the Allentown Art Museum, and visit here to learn more about SOTA.

(Photos courtesy the Society of the Arts)