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Welcome to Bethlehem: Southside mural showcases work of Donegan students

Micaela Hood
From left is artist William Nieves and Donegan students Dylan Mercado, Antonio Young, artist Jermel Fountain and Donegan student Noriah Wise. The group painted the new mural on Third Street and South Bethlehem Greenway.

BETHELHEM, Pa. — Drivers passed, honking their horns, as William Nieves and Jermel Fountain stood in between a guard rail and painted new life into the graffiti-ridden concrete slab.

"Bethlehem, Pennsylvania" reads the dazzling new mural that the duo created with the help of seven art students from Donegan Elementary School.

"Some people shouted as they drove by and would yell out that they liked it if they were at the traffic light," Fountain said at a ribbon cutting on Friday, May 30.

The mural project is a partnership between the Community Action Development Bethlehem and the Lehigh Valley Chamber Foundation.

Bethlehem artist William Nieves poses in front of a mural he designed with Jermel Fountain and fifth-graders from Donegan Elementary School.

The fifth-graders from Tiffany Anderson's art class at Donegan assisted in the painting of the back of the mural, which is visible to pedestrians and bicyclists on the South Bethlehem Greenway by Steel Avenue.

"All the Lehigh students jogging would stop and say, 'Hey that's great, that looks much better than it was,'" Nieves, a longtime resident of Bethlehem said. "It was really bad before with the graffiti on it."

"What really made a difference for us was working with the children. They enjoyed learning to paint."
Artist Jermel Fountain

The students also submitted designs to Nieves and Fountain, who incorporated them into the project which took 12 days to prep and paint.

Among the kids' ideas were bright-colored flowers, an image of the SteelStacks and the Star of Bethlehem.

Micaela Hood
Fifth-graders from Donegan High School in Bethlehem helped artists William Nieves and Jermel Fountain paint a new mural on the south side of the city.

"What really made a difference for us was working with the children," Fountain said of working alongside his friend and mentor, Nieves. "They enjoyed learning to paint and the design process."

Nieves and Fountain, who were also commissioned to paint the "Diversity" mural at Yosko Park in 2023, are currently working on another mural dedicated to military veterans and located at the Victory House of Lehigh Valley.