The Art of Beach Life
Coastal Delaware’s majestic scenery and easy lifestyle has drawn and inspired artists for decades, which means there’s a thriving community of artists who are producing a spectacular variety of work, and it rivals some of the country’s best. Let the following guide be the beginning of your quest for Southern Delaware’s artistic bounty.
“Funland—The Second Look” by Tara Funk Grim
Tara Funk Grim
Tara Funk Grim’s luscious paintings border on Abstract Expressionism in their bold, painterly treatment and aggressive color interaction. Her love affair with color more than shows in her rich paintings of European landscapes and streetscapes and the busy Bethany Beach Boardwalk. Grim also presents spring and fall painting workshops at her Bethany Beach studios. Originals sell for $750 to $3,500, prints from $150.
“Beached” by Abraxas
Found @ Abraxas Studio of Art, Milton
Lewes native Abraxas Hudson sold his first work at age 14 and hasn’t stopped since, having honed his craft and painted his way cross country during 10 years. His work captures the wide-eyed pilgrim’s reverence when happening upon nature’s ever-unfolding majesty, even in the humblest of places. Now 32, he opened his refurbished historic Federal Street studio and gallery to showcase renditions of places like Cape Henlopen, capturing scenes at their most dramatic moments. Originals sell for $15,000 to $30,000, prints from $100 to $800.
Found @ The Gallery on
Aubré Duncan spent years teaching high school and college courses in Vermont and New Hampshire before she decided to follow her true muse, painting. The graphic quality of her vibrant watercolors betrays her background in patterned rug making. She uses similar patterns to depict worlds of childlike whimsy, but for adults. Aubré recently opened her own gallery with artist Laura Hickman on Ocean View’s Central Avenue. There, both artists sell their originals, as well as jewelry and prints. Originals sell for $800 to $3,500, prints from $85 to $550.
Found @ Delaware Arts,
From a past teaching art in the Christina School District and painting backdrops and props at Three Little Bakers, Barbara Dietrick has become one of the most visible artists on the coast. Her paintings are colorful vignettes of beach life and tropical landscapes enhanced with dramatic vibrancy. She and her husband, Chip, own Delaware Arts in Fenwick Island, where they present several regional painters and photographers.
“Blue Poppy” by Anne Hanna
Found @ Rehoboth Art League, Coastal Art and Framing, Rehoboth
With more than two decades of teaching art under her belt and years as the official portrait artist for the Boy Scouts of America, communicating the subtler points of art is second nature to watercolorist Anne Hanna. Her striking landscapes and florals are offset by intimate portraits, each composed to invite the viewer to see aspects they’ve never seen before. Her unique point of view may stem from the fact that she often paints subjects upside down to compensate for a vision condition. Originals sell for $1,500 to $2,500, prints from $45 to $250.
“July Morning, Bethany” by Laura Hickman
Found @ The Gallery on
Laura Hickman’s work expresses the nostalgia of Bethany Beach’s weathered, hidden cottages and alleys better than mere vacation photos. Looking at her beautifully executed pastels and paintings, you get lost in cozy nooks bathed in patterns of late-day light filtering through drying beach towels. Hickman also re-creates the grandness of her experiences during yearly trips to Europe. Originals sell for $1,500 to $2,500, prints from $45 to $250.
Ellen Rice works on “The Storm”
www.ellenrice.com, 539-3405; 1-888-Ell-RICE
Found @ Ellen Rice Gallery, Ocean View
Ellen Rice kick-started her art career when she produced the widely popular “Treasure Beaches of the Mid-Atlantic” map. Rice’s paintings embody the spiritual beauty of coastal Delaware and provide viewers with a uniquely uplifting perspective. For Rice, it’s part of an ongoing spiritual adventure. “I visualize things when I’m meditating, then I try to figure out what they’re all about.” Originals average $12,500, prints from $150. Hand-embellished prints with original modifications start at $600.
Found @ Rehoboth Art League; Peninsula Gallery, Lewes; Step Above Gallery, Berlin, Maryland
Jack Wiberg’s expert paintings of majestic historic ships are modern classics. Painting in oils and watercolors, his originals and limited-edition prints are regular art show attractions throughout the Mid-Atlantic and Northeast. A respected member of The International Society of Marine Artists, Wiberg’s work fuses the creativity and discipline inherent in quality historic marine paintings. Originals sell for $1,500 to $2,500, prints for $45 to $250.
“Tiger Pendant” by Philip Adkins
Found @ studio, 33408 Main St., Dagsboro
The glass sea shells and jellyfish Philip Adkins creates, in addition to gorgeous vases and bowls, speak to his lifelong proximity to the ocean. His pieces are expressively colored and alive like the subjects that inspire him. He has also taken up lampwork bead making, a miniaturized glass working process. Yet his most significant creations occur within the minds of the Selbyville elementary students that he teaches. Blown pieces sell for $20 to $2,500, beads from $5 to $20.
Hand-blown vases by Deborah Appleby
Found @ The Studio on 24, John J. Williams Highway, Lewes; the Rehoboth Art League; Delaware By Hand
Deborah Appleby was a garment retailer in Rehoboth Beach when she took a weekend glass blowing workshop in New York that changed her life. After extensive training throughout the country, Appleby opened the Studio on 24 in 1995 to showcase her beautifully and colorfully patterned vases, bowls, housewares and sculptures. She produces extensive commission work for high-end clients throughout the United States and Europe. Appleby says she chooses imagery and form inspired by the movement of water and structure of flora in an effort to accentuate nature’s harmony. Prices are commensurate with scope of commission.
“Seashell Tiles” by Connie Ballato
Connie J. Ballato
Found @ Sun Glass Studio, Lewes (by appointment); Delaware By Hand
Inspired by stained glass windows in her childhood church, Connie Ballato left a career as an information technology analyst when she happened upon making stained glass while refurbishing her home. In the 14 years since, she’s created stained-glass windows for homes, churches and public buildings across the country, and she’s repaired numerous historic windows. Her beautiful, natural designs grace Bethel United Methodist Church in Lewes, the Court of Chancery in Georgetown and the Wesleyan Church in Denton, Maryland. Prices are commensurate with scope of commission.
Bracelet by Meg Fillmore
Found @ Delaware By Hand
Laurel native Meg Fillmore was almost engineered for fiber art. “My father owned a fabric store and my mother painted. I guess both of those things imprinted on me as a kid.” Her collection of wearable and display textiles incorporate dramatic quilting and beadwork. Quite often, you might be wearing Fillmore’s heart on your sleeve, because she expresses her love of nature and her own life through her work. She also offers a line of beaded jewelry and offers beading classes with the traveling Innovative Bead Expo. Textiles go for $100 to $1,000, jewelry for $10 to $650.
Hand-painted quilts by Barbara Warden
Barbara F. Warden
Found @ Rehoboth Art League; Delaware By Hand; The Stepping Stone, Lewes
Abstract artist Barbara F. Warden was a painter and freelance photographer for years before her eyes where opened to the paintability of fabric and thread while living in Montana. “They have a wonderful tradition of quilting and craft. There’s a whole network of artists out there.” Now a full-time Lewes resident, she translates the line and color of painting into colorful quilts reminiscent of Native American textiles, yet firmly rooted in modern sensibilities. Prices range from $75 to $5,000.
John T. Flournoy
Found@ Delaware By Hand; Rehoboth Art League: 645-5557
John Flournoy has used representational rug hooking as the medium to record life for the past 13 years, using a pointillistic approach to create realist snapshots. Subjects like Rehoboth Beach in the early 1900s and and his European travels find their way into textile memory albums. “I like to make something more permanent than a photograph. I like recording history for someone 10 years down the road.” His work has an honesty very much like the paintings of Ben Shahn that transcends the colorful craft work to provide an invitingly “real” vision of people and places.
Kate E. LaVelle
Found @ Kate’s Creations, Milton; Delaware By Hand; The Canal Shoppes of Lewes; Rehoboth Art League
After 24 years as a Milford school counselor, Kate LaVelle returned to an old college love, stained glass—stained glass jewelry to be more exact. She gives her earrings, pendants and other pieces unique qualities by using dichroic glass, which incorporates thin layers of metallic oxide to produce fiery colors. It displays more than one color depending upon the angle from which you view it. “The way you can tell immediately that it’s dichroic is that light flickers through it with an iridescence.” Pieces range from $15 to $50.
Necklace by Heidi Lowe
Found @ The Jewelry Studio, Rehoboth Beach; Delaware By Hand
Heidi Lowe is a jewelry huntress, seeking out ideas and artisans throughout the world for her store on Rehoboth Avenue. It’s no wonder her own work is eclectic and surprising. Lowe uses silver and gold settings as the base for jaspers and other stones with natural images cut out of them. Her Sweet and Lowe line features rings and necklaces with Tahitian white spiral shells inset and torchworked glass cufflinks. Prices range from $50 to $2,500.
Martha L. Marino
Found @ The Delaware Folklife Collection
Martha Marino’s sculptures of carved wood, cut stone and modeled clay often incorporate found objects like animal skeletons and turtle shells in a celebration of nature. Her newer pieces explore folklore and mythology—the more obscure the better. In addition to being exciting and attractive, her work communicates the values of cultures past. Prices are $140 to $800.
Chandelier by Grant Massey
Found @ The Stepping Stone, Lewes
Once a home builder, Grant Massey now creates pieces to adorn houses. Known as the “Light Post Guy”, his sandblasted copper lamp posts are expert renditions of the area’s wildlife. “I like to kind of funk nature out, make a fish look natural sitting in a yard.” His moving pieces bring that funky nature to life. Prices are $350 to $2,300.
Sculptures by Justin Cavagnaro
Kim Doughty & Justin Cavagnaro
Ceramic artist Kim Doughty and glass blower Justin Cavagnaro met attending school in Philadelphia, went to New York to work in the Corning Glass Museum together, worked in a Dagsboro artists’ cooperative together and are now striking out on their own together. Doughty’s work is a combination of custom-developed clay mix and glazes she’s formulated over the years to look and feel like no other product. She also runs the Artful Bean in Bethany Beach. Cavagnaro creates sculptural and functional pieces using a mixture of classic and modern methods. Doughty’s ceramics run as little as $12 to as much as $700. Cavagnaro’s work runs $25 to $650.
Tom E. Frey
Found @ Delaware By Hand
Wood turner Tom Frey doesn’t seem all that concerned whether his bowls and vessels hold water or not. So intent is he upon relishing the natural blemishes and stress of natural wood burls that some of his pieces barely have structural integrity. Yet the juxtaposition of gnarled surfaces with satiny finishes is enticingly attractive, and many of his pieces are entirely functional. One winged bowl turned in a Big Leaf Maple burl was even purchased by the Biggs Museum of American Art in Dover for its collection.
Dorothy P. Greet
Found @ Thistles Fine Art, Lewes; Rehoboth Art League, Delaware By Hand; Just for You, Lewes
The subjects of Dorothy Greet’s digitally painted prints may be traditional Lewes and Rehoboth landmarks, but the process is anything but traditional. Totally computer-produced, her quality prints include subjects such as the landmark Zwaanendael Museum and The Lightship Overfalls, as well as her trademark cats. She also produces an annual holiday series that shows Lewes during Christmas. Prices range from $30 to $300.
Found @ Rehoboth Art League; Delaware By Hand
Former software developer Eul Lee utilizes a DaVinci-like diversity of media to express herself, including jewelry, fiber art and paper art. According to Lee, her creations all share a unique perspective because of the coast’s lack of fashion trend infiltration, forcing her to develop her own solutions. Even her innovative, moveable greeting cards are customized for each client and are stand-alone works of art. Fiber and jewelry range from $18 to 200. Greeting cards $5 to $7.
Lee Wayne Mills
Found @ Coastal Frameshop and Gallery, Rehoboth; Rehoboth Art League; Delaware By Hand
When he’s not running a frameshop or being interim director for the Rehoboth Art League, Lee Wayne Mills is turning the relics of the beach and into abstract assemblages reminiscent of landscapes. Just about anything emerging from the surf is used for texture, including pieces of houses, rope and weathered tire rubber. Way beyond driftwood, his work is developing an ever-increasing fan club. Pieces range from $250 to $2,500.
Found @ Delaware By Hand; Rehoboth Art League; The Step Above, Berlin, Maryland
Until five years ago, ceramic artist Pam Blessinger was a writer for the likes of Forbes, Money Magazine and Financial World. Then she got clay under her nails. “It was terrific. I can’t get enough. It’s just such a wonderful medium.” She also fell in love with the Japanese ceramic method called raku, a complicated process of special firings and glazes that results in unique metallic colors. Blessinger’s work includes items like a 3-foot-tall totem covered in circus animals and pink elephants. Pieces range from $20 to $200
Found @ Delaware By Hand; Rehoboth Art League
Pottery was Carmela Coleman’s emotional refuge while recuperating from a serious accident. What started as a diversion eventually became a profession. She creates sculptural hand-built pieces that incorporate everything from antlers, glass and metal to intricately ornate stenciling. She also produces thrown dinner ware, lidded casserole dishes and bowls. Works range from $100 to $200 for artistic pieces, $18 to $65 for functional items