Making a Difference, a Paint Stroke at a Time – Mary Jo Tarallo for delawareretiree.com
Retirees who like to support the arts, listen up. You have plenty of wide-ranging opportunities to do so for artists of all ages.
A community development internship in Coastal Kenya inspired a Dewey Beach resident named Leah Beach (no joke) to launch the Developing Artist Collaboration (DAC) when she returned home in 2014. Empowered by the idea that artists can change the world, she discovered that there were other young artists who shared her vision.
Beach and friends officially formed DAC as a 501(©)(3) non-profit in 2017. It is dedicated to helping launch the careers of individual young adult artists just starting their creative journey. This organization’s web site clearly differentiates it from other arts groups. It’s a bit sassy! You might call it “entrepreneurs with a conscience”.
Helping young artists was crucial but fundraising was paramount. Covid threw the group a curveball but this resilient and dedicated bunch found a way to survive and now thrive. DAC depends on grants and other fundraising efforts to provide services so that members don’t have to pay.
DAC has nestled in West Rehoboth, a predominantly residential neighborhood with roots dating back in history to “free blacks” searching for new homes. A Quaker, Charles Mills, turned part of his farm into the West Rehoboth subdivision in 1945 so that they might own “lots of their own”. For the most part, the area has maintained its identity, but locals and tourists might think of it as home for Revelation Brewery, Tomato Sunshine and Ocean Boulevard Furniture.
On Monday nights (weather-permitting) during the summer the DAC transforms the lot next to Ocean Boulevard into the “Creative Market” where budding artists, musicians and art lovers can come together for an evening of art appreciation and entertainment. Fundraisers also include the Dewey Sip and Shop holiday gift purchasing event on Black Friday weekend and the Tacomania in October.
In 2005, a more established Maryland/Delaware shore area group formed Gallery One. Now located in Ocean View, Gallery One is a converted warehouse on Atlantic Ave, about a mile west of Bethany Beach. It is spacious enough to attractively display art from the 16 artists who currently belong to this coop, plus a special room dedicated to crafts artisans. Themed displays are featured each month. Coop “owners” take turns staffing the gallery and managing business.
Dale Sheldon is one of them. Her passion is typical of the coop devotees.
“Before I begin a painting, I put something on the canvas or paper, the first of my own marks,” she said. “I also think of what story each painting will tell, and how I will engage the viewer. I can happily go where the painting leads me.” While there is no organized art league or guild in Lewes, the Cape Artists Gallery provides a showcase for local artists and is set up in a similar fashion to Gallery One. It is located on West 3rd Street in Lewes, a block from the Zwaanendael Museum. Twenty-two artists share the first- floor gallery space of a brown shingle building that may have been someone’s home once.
Two commercial galleries in Lewes are worth investigating. Peninsula Gallery on Savannah Road (East side of the Canal) hosts numerous exhibits and on-going collections for a wide array of local artists. It also does custom framing.
Abraxas is a small gallery right on Lewes’ main shopping street. It is owned by the luminist artist named Abraxas who also offers art lessons.
All interesting stuff, but also compelling. If the talent is in you, then you’ve retired to a place you can definitely pick up your passion again. If you’re like many of us “others”, the artistic talents of those around us who let their gifts flourish are truly inspiring. Here’s to making our communities near and far, places of beauty and growth.
By Mary Jo Tarallo, Guest Journalist
Mary Jo Tarallo spent much of her career in public relations with various non-profits and spent 40 years involved with the ski industry as a journalist, public relations director for a national trade association and as executive director of the Learn to Ski and Snowboard initiative. Prior to her ski industry involvement she worked for the Maryland International Center in Baltimore and United Way of Central Maryland. She won a Gold Award for TV programming for a United Way simulcast that starred Ophrah Winfrey. She has been cited for her work by numerous organizations. Mary Jo grew up in Baltimore, attended the University of Maryland and Towson University, lived in Washington, DC for 21 years and has been a full time resident of Rehoboth Beach and Milton since May 2019.