Reimagined galleries celebrate collection highlights and diversify stories told with art

On Saturday, July 31, the Delaware Art Museum will unveil its reimagined galleries of British Pre-Raphaelite art, continuing a series of gallery reopenings throughout the summer. Shaped by feedback from over 100 Delawareans, “Radical Beauty” explores the artists who rebelled against the Victorian art world to forge new ways of artmaking.

DelArt’s Pre-Raphaelite art collection is one of the largest outside of Great Britain, an attraction that draws art lovers far and wide to Wilmington. The reinstallation moves the collection to prominent main floor galleries at the Museum’s entrance.

The Museum’s collection of Pre-Raphaelite art was developed through the gift of Wilmington mill owner Samuel Bancroft. In recent years, the collection has been expanded with new acquisitions and interpretation. “The reimagined galleries celebrate not only the Pre-Raphaelite Brotherhood, but also the women artists in their circle and the diverse models they painted,” says Margaretta Frederick, Annette Woolard-Provine Curator of the Bancroft Collection. A new Museum audio tour features the story of Jamaican Pre-Raphaelite model Fanny Eaton, told by her great grandson. The Museum also recently acquired an academic study of an unknown Black model, by Victorian artist William Wise. Frederick hopes to uncover the model’s story through research and share it with visitors in the future.

The new gallery design vibrantly showcases a variety of art forms. “The Pre-Raphaelites were radical in ignoring divisions between art genre,” says Frederick. “They created paintings, wrote poetry, and sometimes merged the two.” The new galleries will integrate rich displays of decorative art, part of the Arts and Crafts Movement fostered by William Morris and Pre-Raphaelite artists. One showstopper is a newly acquired stained glass window of Noah, by Edward Burne-Jones.

Visitors to the galleries will also find fresh context for old favorites, developed in response to community members’ questions and interests. Audiences are invited to consider how the Pre-Raphaelites responded to industrial pollution and to explore the barriers female artists faced in Victorian England. “We are grateful to the community members who guided this project. We look forward to sharing their voices with visitors when the new galleries open,” said Amelia Wiggins, Assistant Director of Learning and Engagement.

Radical Beauty opens on Saturday, July 31, and guided tours are available in August, at delart.org. Reimagined main floor galleries will continue to open throughout the summer, and the Museum will remain open during these changes. Please check delart.org for details and updates.

Full Schedule of Closures and Reopenings:
On view now: New gallery of John Sloan and The Eight
On view now: Picturing America (American Art through 1900)
Through September 8: Howard Pyle and American Illustration Closed
Saturday, July 31: Radical Beauty (British Pre-Raphaelites) Opens
Saturday, September 11: Howard Pyle and American Illustration Opens; main floor galleries are fully reopened.

Sponsors: The Museum’s reinstallation is made possible by the generosity of Sewell C. Biggs and foundations including the Choptank Foundation, the Starrett Foundation, the Richard C. Von Hess Foundation, and the Sansom Foundation. This organization is supported, in part, by a grant from the Delaware Division of the Arts, a state agency, in partnership with the National Endowment for the Arts. The Division promotes Delaware arts events on www.DelawareScene.com.

Press Contact: Amelia Wiggins, Assistant Director of Learning & Engagement, awiggins@delart.org or 302-351-8503.

About the Delaware Art Museum

For over 100 years, the Museum has served as a primary arts and cultural institution in Delaware. It is alive with experiences, discoveries, and activities to connect people with art and with each other. Originally created in 1912 to honor the renowned illustrator and Wilmington-native, Howard Pyle, the Museum’s collection has grown to over 12,000 works of art in our building and sculpture garden. Also recognized for British Pre-Raphaelite art, the Museum is home to the most comprehensive Pre-Raphaelite collection on display outside of the United Kingdom, and a growing collection of significant contemporary art.

Under the leadership of our Board of Trustees, the Delaware Art Museum is implementing a comprehensive approach to community and civic engagement. This exciting new strategic direction requires that we increase our value and relevance to all audiences. Visit delart.org to for the latest exhibitions, programs, and performances or connect with us via social media.

Top: And their ears were dull of hearing, 1877. James Smetham (1821 – 1889). Oil on canvas, 27 3/4 x 18 1/2 inches, frame: 29 1/4 x 36 3/4 x 1 3/4 inches. Private Collection. The Council Chamber, 1872-1892. Edward Burne-Jones (1833–1898). Oil on canvas, 49 1/4 × 105 5/8 inches, frame: 75 x 126 inches. Delaware Art Museum, Samuel and Mary R. Bancroft Memorial, 1935. Hymenaeus, 1869. Edward Burne-Jones (1833–1898). Oil paint over gold leaf on panel, 32 1/4 × 21 1/2 inches, frame: 36 x 49 1/2 inches. Delaware Art Museum, Samuel and Mary R. Bancroft Memorial, 1935. Within the Beguinage, 1905. Aelfred Fahey (active 1902–1909). Oil on wood panel, 11 1/2 × 13 1/2 inches, frame: 21 x 18 inches. Delaware Art Museum, Samuel and Mary R. Bancroft Memorial, 1935. Romeo and Juliet, 1869-1870. Ford Madox Brown (1821–1893). Oil on canvas, 53 3/8 × 37 inches, frame: 62 1/2 x 44 1/2 inches. Delaware Art Museum, Samuel and Mary R. Bancroft Memorial, 1935.

Enslavement, Education, and Freedom

Absalom Jones was born enslaved in 1746 on “Cedar Town” plantation in Cedar Creek Hundred, Sussex County, Delaware. Abraham Wynkoop, a wealthy Anglican justice of the peace and assembly delegate, owned Cedar Town. Wynkoop’s grandfather emigrated from Holland to New Netherland (New York) in the 17th century. Abraham Wynkoop moved to the southern-most of the “Lower Counties” in the 1730s. Abraham saw Absalom’s intelligence and had him work in the house. Absalom sought instruction, saved money, and bought books including a Bible. Abraham Wynkoop died in 1753. Benjamin, his middle son, inherited Cedar Town.

Benjamin Wynkoop sold Cedar Town and Absalom’s mother and siblings. In 1761, Wynkoop brought Absalom to Philadelphia, joined St. Peter’s Anglican Church, and became a prosperous merchant. Wynkoop permitted Absalom to attend a Quaker-run night school for Black people founded by abolitionist Anthony Benezet. Absalom’s mathematics education was useful in Wynkoop’s store which sold European cloths. Benjamin Wynkoop married into a prominent Anglican mercantile family.

In 1770, with their enslavers’ permission, Absalom Jones married Mary Thomas. Mary was enslaved to St. Peter’s parishioner Sarah King. Absalom, and his father-in-law John Thomas, purchased Mary’s freedom with donations and loans primarily from Quaker abolitionists. Absalom and Mary repaid the borrowed money, saved more money, and bought property. The British briefly occupied Philadelphia during the Revolutionary War. The Wynkoop family went to Dover, Delaware staying with Mary Wynkoop Ridgely. The Wynkoops worshipped at Dover’s Christ Church. Absalom oversaw the Wynkoop store and house. Although Wynkoop refused, Absalom kept asking to buy his freedom. Absalom persisted because Wynkoop could take his money and property. In 1784 Benjamin Wynkoop manumitted Absalom and paid him for his services.

imageLeft to right: Absalom Jones, 1810. Raphaelle Peale (1774–1825). Oil on paper mounted to board, 30 x 25 inches. Delaware Art Museum, Gift of Absalom Jones School, 1971. The Revd. Richard Allen, 1823. John Boyd from a painting by Raphaelle Peale. Stipple engraving, 16 x 11 1/2 inches. Library Company of Philadelphia.

Founding of the Free African Society with Richard Allen

Absalom Jones started attending St. George’s Methodist Episcopal Church. He met Richard Allen, who had also been enslaved in Delaware. They became lifelong friends. In 1787, they founded the Free African Society (FAS), the first mutual aid society organized by Black people. W.E.B. DuBois called the FAS “the first wavering step of a people toward organized social life.” FAS members paid monthly dues to benefit those in need. Jones and Allen were class leaders and lay preachers. The membership increased. They helped raise money to build a gallery. One Sunday morning in 1792, Jones, Allen, and other Black worshippers were directed to the gallery. Absalom knelt and starting praying, but ushers told him to move. He refused, and an usher attempted to physically move him. The prayer ended. Absalom Jones and Richard Allen led most of the Black members out of St. George’s in protest.

Yellow Fever

The FAS, assisted by Dr. Benjamin Rush, a signer of the Declaration of Independence, started the African Church of Philadelphia. The devastating 1793 yellow fever epidemic interrupted their work. Initially, Dr. Rush, a prominent physician, thought Black people were immune to the virus. He appealed to Absalom Jones and Richard Allen to help stricken White Philadelphians. There had been other yellow fever epidemics in Philadelphia. It is doubtful that Jones and Allen believed Rush’s immunity theory. No one knew that the virus was spread by infected mosquitoes. Rush trained Jones and Allen to treat patients, and they trained Black nurses. Other FAS members buried the dead. Black Philadelphians proved equally susceptible to the virus. Fall’s colder weather killed the mosquitoes. The epidemic ended. Over 4,000 people perished. Matthew Carey published an account of the epidemic that accused Black nurses of stealing and extorting money. Absalom Jones and Richard Allen published a refutation.

imageLeft to right: Title Page, A Narrative of the Proceedings of the Black People, 1794. Absalom Jones (1746–1818) and Richard Allen (1760–1831). Library Company of Philadelphia. A Sunday Morning View of the African Episcopal Church of St. Thomas in Philadelphia, 1829. Kennedy & Lucas from a drawing by W. L. Breton (c. 1733–1859). Lithograph, 9 3/4 x 13 3/4 inches. Library Company of Philadelphia.

The African Episcopal Church of St. Thomas

The African Church affiliated with the Episcopal Church. Richard Allen favored the Methodist tradition, and he organized the African Methodist Episcopal denomination. Absalom Jones agreed, after prayerful reflection, to provide pastoral leadership. The African Episcopal Church of St. Thomas was dedicated on July 17, 1794. It applied to join the Episcopal Diocese of Pennsylvania on conditions that guaranteed self-determination but ceded participation in diocesan governance.

Absalom Jones and others explained the church’s founding: “[W]e arise out of the dust and shake ourselves, and throw off that servile fear, that the habit of oppression and bondage trained us up in.” In October 1794, The African Episcopal Church of St. Thomas was admitted to the diocese and incorporated in 1796. Bishop William White ordained Absalom Jones a deacon in 1795 and a priest in 1802.

Abolitionism

Absalom Jones knew Boston’s African freemasonry founder Prince Hall. Jones became Pennsylvania’s first African masonic Grand Master. In 1799, Absalom Jones and others petitioned the President and Congress to abolish the transatlantic slave trade and slavery. The petition asserted, “If the Bill of Rights or the Declaration of Congress are of any validity, we beseech that … we may be admitted to partake of the liberties and unalienable rights therein …. ” On January 1, 1808 The Rev. Absalom Jones delivered a “Thanksgiving Sermon” celebrating legislation prohibiting the transatlantic slave trade. Rev. Jones preached that “[God came] down to deliver suffering [Africans] from the hands of their oppressors … when … the constitution [mandated] that the [African] trade… should cease … [and] … when [legislation was passed] outlawing the slave trade. [T]his day [we] … offer up our united thanks.” The African Episcopal Church of St. Thomas formed a school and was active in moral uplift, self-empowerment, and anti-slavery efforts.

Rev. Jones’ Legacy

Absalom Jones died February 13, 1818. He bequeathed Raphaelle Peale’s 1810 portrait to his nephew George Jones. The portrait made its way to the Absalom Jones School in Delaware and was later donated to the Delaware Art Museum.

Absalom Jones’ achievements are commemorated on three Pennsylvania state historical markers. Delaware’s state historical marker honoring Absalom Jones is in Milford. Absalom Jones was featured in the 2013 exhibition “Forging Faith, Building Freedom: African American Faith Experiences in Delaware, 1800-1980,” organized by the Delaware Historical Society. His story is prominently told in the Smithsonian’s Museum of African American History and Culture. The Episcopal Church recognizes February 13 as Absalom Jones’ feast day. The African Episcopal Church of St. Thomas uses Absalom Jones’ altar on his feast day, and his ashes are enshrined in the parish chapel.

Arthur K. Sudler
William Cal Bolivar Director
Historical Society & Archives
African Episcopal Church of St. Thomas

DelArt, City Lore, Inc. and Artists Alliance, Inc. are researching the art created by a 1970s government program for an upcoming traveling exhibition.

The Delaware Art Museum is pleased to announce that it is a recipient of a grant from the National Endowment for the Humanities in support of an upcoming historical exhibition honoring the art produced by the 1973 Federal Comprehensive Employment and Training Act.

Working in collaboration with New York’s City Lore, Inc. and Artists Alliance, Inc., the Delaware Art Museum is planning a traveling exhibition honoring the Federal Comprehensive Employment and Training Act of 1973, which led to public employment of artists at a scale not seen since the Works Progress Administration of the 1930s.

The Federal Comprehensive Employment and Training Act (CETA), signed into law by President Richard Nixon on December 28, 1973, provided federal funds in the form of block grants for states to train workers during a period of high unemployment. States in turn distributed the funds to different cities, allowing a localized approach. Some cities and states, such as San Francisco, Chicago, New York City, and Delaware, used CETA funds to hire artists to create public service art projects. From 1974 until its repeal by President Ronald Reagan in 1982, CETA led to the employment of ten thousand artists around the country.

Margaret Winslow, curator of contemporary art at the Delaware Art Museum, says, “we are excited to embark on this important research project with City Lore and Artists Alliance, Inc. In Delaware, CETA funding supported more than 50 artists and arts administrators who organized community performances, produced murals throughout Wilmington, and photographed people and events in Delaware during 1976 Bicentennial celebrations. CETA impacted the trajectory of arts and culture throughout the state, just as it did across the nation.”

image CETA artist Selvin Goldbourne drawing a portrait; © Blaise Tobia, 1978.

Molly Garfinkel, Managing Director of City Lore, Inc., says “City Lore is thrilled to collaborate with Artists Alliance Inc., and the Delaware Art Museum on this timely and exciting initiative. The history and impact of CETA funding on artists, communities, and the arts ecology in the United States is woefully under-documented, but CETA provides valuable precedents and lessons for the current moment. CETA helped to demonstrate that artists and cultural workers deserve to be considered a critical part of the U.S. labor force. Moreover, artists applied to CETA-funded public service employment projects not just to stand in line for a check, but to do something meaningful with their time, skills, and resourcefulness. CETA funds enabled cultural workers to take risks, to grow, and to engage in new forms of collaboration—both with each other and with their communities. It helped many existing cultural organizations to establish a foothold and expand programming and capacity. Why does supporting culture matter? Culture should be supported because it is part of our daily lives, and it is an integral part of civic life. Expression of culture has much to do with how well we understand ourselves and each other, build relationships with and get along with one another. Being able to do this is as relevant now as ever.”

“We are so looking forward to hosting this collaboration at our Cuchifritos Gallery + Project Space in the heart of the Lower East Side this fall,” added Jodi Waynberg, Director of Artists Al-liance Inc. “There is hardly a more fitting moment to reflect on the benefits to our communities, individual arts workers, and cultural institutions when the United States invests in its labor force. We are thrilled that that NEH has afforded us the opportunity to amplify this extraordinary history and reimagine sustained recovery that could extend beyond this moment of insecurity in order to truly rebuild.”

About the Delaware Art Museum

For over 100 years, the Museum has served as a primary arts and cultural institution in Delaware. It is alive with experiences, discoveries, and activities to connect people with art and with each other. Originally created in 1912 to honor the renowned illustrator and Wilmington-native, Howard Pyle, the Museum’s collection has grown to over 12,000 works of art in our building and sculpture garden. Also recognized for British Pre-Raphaelite art, the Museum is home to the most comprehensive Pre-Raphaelite collection on display outside of the United Kingdom, and a growing collection of significant contemporary art.

Under the leadership of our Board of Trustees, the Delaware Art Museum is implementing a comprehensive approach to community and civic engagement. This exciting new strategic direction requires that we increase our value and relevance to all audiences. Visit delart.org to for the latest exhibitions, programs, and performances or connect with us via social media.

Top: Wilmington Parade, 1976. Norma Diskau (born 1942). Gelatin silver print, image: 6 5/8 × 10 inches, sheet: 10 7/8 × 14 inches. Delaware Art Museum, Gift of the artist, 2015. © Norma Diskau Calabro.

Free Virtual Writers Workshop with Keynote from Delaware Poet Chet’la Sebree

The Delaware Art Museum Store presents a free virtual edition of its fifth annual Wilmington Writers Conference on Saturday, July 24, 2021, from 10 am — 1 pm. The Museum’s signature literary event serves to inspire writers at all stages of their creative journey.

The keynote speaker is award-winning poet Chet’la Sebree, who will read from her just-released second book, Field Study, and lead a workshop for writers. Sebree is the winner of the 2020 James Laughlin Award from the Academy of American Poets. She is also the author of Mistress, selected by Cathy Park Hong as the winner of the 2018 New Issues Poetry Prize and nominated for an NAACP Image Award for Outstanding Literary Work-Poetry (2020). She is the Director of the Stadler Center for Poetry & Literary Arts and an Assistant Professor at Bucknell University.

Sebree summarized plans for the multi-genre workshop, saying, “We never write in isolation. We’re always, whether we know it or not, in conversation with history, culture, art, family, etc. I’ll give a short craft lecture where we’ll walk through work that makes this multi-layered conversation transparent and discuss how we can apply some of those strategies to our own work. We’ll then do some generative writing exercises that prompt us to write ekphrastic poetry (poems that respond to art) or braided essays that make links between popular culture and our lives.”

Jessa Mendez, Lead Museum Associate, says, “I’m so excited that Chet’la is our keynote speaker and workshop presenter this year! She is a brilliant writer, and it is a gift to have her back at the conference. The Museum Store is so proud to be presenting this event. I know it will be a fun, engaging day for local writers as well as those who don’t live in the area but can now join us in a virtual space.”

Poetry, in particular, is a democratic art form that can strengthen an institution’s connections to the community, making this conference a good fit for the Museum’s mission and vision. The event is free and virtual for broad accessibility.

The Museum and Sebree have a history: she was the 2019 conference’s coordinator, and has contributed wall text to a current exhibit, Collecting and Connecting: Recent Acquisitions, 2010-2020. Between her keynote speech and workshop, she will participate in a chat with Museum employee and Brevity Bookspace owner Saliym Cooper.

Signed copies of Sebree’s books, Field Study and Mistress, will be for sale at the Museum Store and its website, delartstore.org.

Workshop registration is required, and can be made on our website.

More information about Sebree can be found on the Museum’s blog. For more information on the event, visit our website.

This event is sponsored by Happy Self Publisher. This organization is supported, in part, by a grant from the Delaware Division of the Arts, a state agency, in partnership with the National Endowment for the Arts. The Division promotes Delaware arts events on www.DelawareScene.com.

IF YOU GO:
WHAT: Delaware Art Museum’s Wilmington Writers Conference
WHEN: Saturday, July 24, 2021, 10 am — 1 pm
WHERE: Virtual
COST: Free
INFO: delart.org

About the Delaware Art Museum

For over 100 years, the Museum has served as a primary arts and cultural institution in Delaware. It is alive with experiences, discoveries, and activities to connect people with art and with each other. Originally created in 1912 to honor the renowned illustrator and Wilmington-native, Howard Pyle, the Museum’s collection has grown to over 12,000 works of art in our building and sculpture garden. Also recognized for British Pre-Raphaelite art, the Museum is home to the most comprehensive Pre-Raphaelite collection on display outside of the United Kingdom, and a growing collection of significant contemporary art.

Under the leadership of our Board of Trustees, the Delaware Art Museum is implementing a comprehensive approach to community and civic engagement. This exciting new strategic direction requires that we increase our value and relevance to all audiences. Visit delart.org to for the latest exhibitions, programs, and performances or connect with us via social media.

Early this spring, I enjoyed leading two Inside Look discussions at the Delaware Art Museum on Marie Spartali Stillman’s embroidered tunic and shoes. The textile pairing is included in the museum exhibition, Collecting and Connecting, Recent Acquisitions, 2010-2020, and displayed in a section that prompts visual dialogues on dressing and clothing. Due to the pandemic, I led the talks on Zoom, and the online format led to fascinating discussions on the Pre-Raphaelites, the artist’s family history, and the Aesthetic Movement.

The British artist Marie Spartali Stillman (1844-1927) designed this matching embroidered tunic and shoes and decorated the garments with cascading floral designs. Though undated, the ensemble is likely from the late nineteenth century and perhaps created for her daughter Effie upon her marriage in 1905. Stillman created a mix of floral designs, including tulips, clovers, and morning glories. In a sense, Stillman fabricated a still life on the garment and shoes to decorate the body of the wearer. With her focus upon florals and the natural world, she references the Pre-Raphaelite aesthetic and the practice of depicting the natural world through close looking. The British art critic John Ruskin, ardent supporter of the Pre-Raphaelites, advocated truth to nature, specifically equating beauty and spirit to the natural world. Our discussion group was particularly intrigued with the Victorian language of flowers and the possible meanings Stillman attached to each floral pairing. We started to consider the morning glories and love-in-a-mist, a selection attached to symbols of love and possibly a reference to her daughter’s impending marriage. In light of Stillman’s Pre-Raphaelite ties, our group also started to parse out how the fashionable ensemble could reflect early Renaissance aesthetics studied by the artists, such as Botticelli paintings celebrating spring and Italian poetry. Moreover, we connected how the tunic reflected the Aesthetic Movement belief in improving life by surrounding oneself with beauty, reflected in the embroidery design or silk.

Participants began observing Stillman’s relationships with other Pre-Raphaelite artists, including Dante Gabriel Rossetti and Ford Madox Brown. Our discussion group included descendants of the artist, who offered insights into Stillman’s family and their dedication as patrons of the art. The conversation benefitted from the intimate anecdotes on the Spartalis interest in horticulture and gardening, and of the artist’s surviving collection of embroidery and silk. Stillman became closely connected to a mid-nineteenth century artistic milieu, and eventually married the painter and journalist William James Stillman to enter the transatlantic art world of the Aesthetic Movement. As a group, we considered the tunic and shoes in the larger framework of a bohemian circle in Britain in the mid-nineteenth century and the style of the dress. Compared to the structure of women’s garments in the Victorian era, the tunic is reminiscent of “artistic” dress of the period with the freeing silhouette. The group even mentioned how the tunic’s sleeves and construction appeared similar to Japanese kimonos, perhaps a reference to Stillman’s connection with the expatriate painter James McNeil Whistler and the emerging Japonisme among European artists as they grew increasingly inspired by Japanese art and design.

image

As we continued to examine the tunic, participants discussed female artists working in the Victorian era and their degree of access to art academies and exhibition opportunities. Most women in the nineteenth century, like Stillman, would have been taught needlework skills. The tunic and embroidery raise questions on how definitions of gender have become attached to different artistic mediums and materials during the nineteenth century, or what was traditionally deemed appropriate for women. Stillman has often been overshadowed by a Pre-Raphaelite circle narrative dominated by men, or labeled as an amateur artist due to her focus on watercolors and embroidery. Our discussion raised important questions about how to rewrite narratives in a museum, or who gets included within the galleries themselves to present an inclusive art history.

Stillman also worked alongside William Morris’s wife, Jane, and shared summers at Kelmscott Manor in the Cotswolds in southern England. We compared the wildflower designs on the ensemble to Morris’s embroidery and considered the possible collaborations between the two artists. The floral designs perhaps reference visits to Kelmscott Manor and the gardens, seen in Stillman’s own watercolors of the residence. Participants also noted the Pre-Raphaelite interest in reviving craft and return to handwork, such as the attention to decorating and furnishing interiors with artistic beauty. This artistic circle became passionate about decoration’s role in providing aesthetic pleasure and the spiritual benefits of beauty, seen with a wearable ensemble. Discussing Stillman’s embroidered tunic and shoes, we began to understand her central role in Victorian artistic circles and her vision in capturing Pre-Raphaelite beauty.

Lea C. Stephenson
PhD student in Art History at the University of Delaware

Inside Look is a collaboration between the Delaware Art Museum and the University of Delaware’s Department of Art History and Community Engagement Initiative.

Our next Inside Look discussions are scheduled for September 24 & 26, 2021. Join us!

Top to bottom: Embroidered Shoes, not dated. Marie Spartali Stillman (1844–1927). Embroidery on silk, each: 4 1/2 × 3 × 10 1/2 inches. Delaware Art Museum, Gift of Eugenia Diehl Pell, 2016. | Embroidered Tunic, not dated. Marie Spartali Stillman (1844–1927). Embroidery on silk, 53 × 19 inches. Delaware Art Museum, Gift of Eugenia Diehl Pell, 2016.

Delaware Art Museum’s new galleries of American Art from 1757–1900 open June 19.

On Saturday, June 19, the Delaware Art Museum will unveil its reimagined American art galleries, kicking off a series of gallery reopenings throughout the summer. Shaped by feedback from over 100 Delawareans, “Picturing America” expands the American stories told with art.

Developed largely through gifts from local donors, the Museum’s collection reflects art produced and collected in Delaware and the Brandywine Valley. “The new galleries offer a chance to reinterpret historic American artworks to share a more inclusive history,” says Chief Curator Heather Campbell Coyle. “New acquisitions by women and Black artists have added depth and diversity to the collection.”

New design showcases the collection vibrantly. A highlight of the new American galleries is a large salon-style display, wrapping walls from floor to ceiling with Gilded Age artworks. Recent acquisitions on view include a bust of Frederick Douglass by Isaac Scott Hathaway, landscapes by 19th-century African American artists Robert Duncanson and Edward Mitchell Bannister, and a new painting by Mary Macomber.

Visitors to the galleries will also find fresh context for old favorites, inviting audiences to consider how the nation’s history of enslavement and violence toward Native Americans impacted the people pictured in the paintings. Community leaders, including representatives of Delaware’s Lenape and Nanticoke tribes, consulted on the new interpretation. “We are grateful to the community members who guided this project. We look forward to sharing their voices with visitors when the new galleries open,” said Amelia Wiggins, Assistant Director of Learning and Engagement.

Picturing America opens on June 19, a day when the Museum welcomes community members to gather at the Museum to celebrate during the 2nd annual Beyond Juneteenth: Egungun Festival. The Festival, which commemorates the emancipation of Americans who had been enslaved, is hosted by Abundancechild, Dr.G and Rachelle Wilson and is free, with registration at delart.org.

Reimagined main floor galleries will continue to open throughout the summer, and public tours are available at delart.org. The Museum will remain open during these changes. Please check delart.org for details and updates.

FULL SCHEDULE OF CLOSURES AND REOPENINGS:

Saturday, June 19: Picturing America (American Art through 1900) Opens
British Pre-Raphaelites Closed through July 30; Howard Pyle and American Illustration Closed through Sept. 8.
Saturday, July 31: Radical Beauty (British Pre-Raphaelites) Opens
Saturday, September 11: Howard Pyle and American Illustration Opens; main floor galleries are fully reopened.

Sponsors: The Museum’s reinstallation is made possible by the generosity of Sewell C. Biggs and foundations including the Choptank Foundation, the Starrett Foundation, the Richard C. Von Hess Foundation, and the Sansom Foundation. This organization is supported, in part, by a grant from the Delaware Division of the Arts, a state agency, in partnership with the National Endowment for the Arts. The Division promotes Delaware arts events on www.DelawareScene.com.

Press Contact: Please contact Amelia Wiggins, Assistant Director of Learning & Engagement, awiggins@delart.org

About the Delaware Art Museum

For over 100 years, the Museum has served as a primary arts and cultural institution in Delaware. It is alive with experiences, discoveries, and activities to connect people with art and with each other. Originally created in 1912 to honor the renowned illustrator and Wilmington-native, Howard Pyle, the Museum’s collection has grown to over 12,000 works of art in our building and sculpture garden. Also recognized for British Pre-Raphaelite art, the Museum is home to the largest and most important Pre-Raphaelite collection outside of the United Kingdom and a growing collection of significant contemporary art. Embracing all disciplines, the Museum’s Performance Series ranges from concerts by Pyxis Piano Quartet, resident ensemble of over ten years, to cutting-edge, multi-disciplinary artists committed to social justice and pushing the boundaries of artistic practice.

Under the leadership of our Board of Trustees, the Delaware Art Museum is implementing a comprehensive approach to community and civic engagement. This exciting new strategic direction requires that we increase our value and relevance to all audiences. Visit delart.org to for the latest exhibitions, programs, and performances or connect with us via social media.

The Wilmington Writers Conference, presented by the Museum Store, is celebrating its 5th anniversary on Saturday, July 24, with a free virtual event. This year, the Keynote Speaker and workshop presenter is award-winning poet Chet’la Sebree. Some of you may know Sebree from her time at the Museum, including a role as the 2019 Conference Coordinator. Her highly anticipated second book, Field Study, is out now.

Sebree’s journey for creating Field Study included research that became an integral part of the story. “I am often surprised at how this collection ended up manifesting in this layered patchwork,” Sebree said. “I wasn’t convinced that anyone would publish this project that blurs the line between poetry and prose, fact and fiction, so I gave myself permission to put the ancient Greek philosopher Heraclitus in conversation with the historical Pocahontas and Disney’s fictionalized version of her. I allowed myself to let Olivia Pope from Scandal and Annalise Keating from How to Get Away with Murder to be in conversation with sociologist Tressie McMillan Cottom and warrior poet and feminist Audre Lorde. I did a lot of reading and took in a lot of media while working on Field Study. And from all of these texts, I collected language and allowed them to move through the space on the page as they needed, as I saw the connections between one conversation and another.”

The resulting book in some ways evokes the spirit of Collecting and Connecting: Recent Acquisitions, 2010-2020, so it is particularly interesting that Sebree contributed wall text to the exhibition. “A museum lover to my core, I’ve always wanted to write label copy, so it was such an honor to write something in response to Collecting and Connecting,” she said. “It was nice to be able to sit with the art and see all of the ways in which the three pieces— Curlee Raven Holton’s The History Matters (1999), Aaron Douglas’s The Window Shopper (1955), and Bart Parker’s Untitled (1968)—were in conversation with each other, the ways in which they were distinctly different.”

Sebree was kind enough to offer us a sneak peek of what she has planned for conference participants, and they are in for a treat. “I am excited!” the poet said about returning to the conference as a keynote speaker. “The great part about having been able to be involved in this conference and this community in the past means that I have a good sense of what direction might be useful when it comes to the keynote (which I plan to connect to the Collecting and Connecting exhibition) and the breakout session.”

She will also be letting us in on her creative process with what’s sure to be an amazing workshop. “We never write in isolation. We’re always, whether we know it or not, in conversation with history, culture, art, family, etc. I’ll give a short craft lecture where we’ll walk through work that makes this multi-layered conversation transparent and discuss how we can apply some of those strategies to our own work. We’ll then do some generative writing exercises that prompt us to write ekphrastic poetry (poems that respond to art) or braided essays that make links between popular culture and our lives. I’m still ironing out the details, but the prompts will be multi-genre and get us thinking in new ways!”

Signed copies of Field Study and Sebree’s first book, Mistress, will be available in the Museum Store.

Learn more about the Wilmington Writers Conference and register.

Jessa Mendez
Lead Museum Associate

7 new trustees’ diverse areas of expertise will solidify key partnerships and expand art audiences.

On May 13, Delaware Art Museum members voted in a slate of new trustees that reflects the exciting future envisioned for the 109-year-old art institution. Aligning with the values that will carry the Museum into its next chapter, the new board members bring expertise in community development, creative entrepreneurship, and art collections. Under the leadership of the young, dynamic Executive Director Molly Giordano, the Museum is poised to solidify its standing as an anchor institution in its community.

“This extraordinary new slate of DelArt trustees reflects the institutional values we share and the strategic vision for the Museum’s future,” said Delaware Art Museum Board President David Pollack. The seven trustees joining the Delaware Art Museum board this spring are:

  • Fatimah Conley, Interim Chief Diversity Officer, University of Delaware
  • Jeanana Lloyd, Director of Talent Optimization and Planning, ChristianaCare
  • Yvette Santiago, State Director of Delaware Valley Government Relations, Nemours Children’s Health System
  • Christopher Savage, Podiatrist and Founder of Brandywine Podiatry
  • Eric Smith, Director of Operations at Carvertise
  • Susan Thomas, Founder, IAM for Social Good
  • Ronald Varney, Principal at Ronald Varney Fine Art Advisors.

The seven new members join twenty returning trustees with valuable experiences, knowledge, and a commitment to the Museum’s mission of connecting people with art.

The new trustees’ diverse backgrounds will allow the Museum to cultivate new partnerships, working collaboratively with keystone organizations throughout greater Wilmington. Fatimah Conley, Jeanana Lloyd, and Yvette Santiago will help the Museum build on existing collaborative relationships with the University of Delaware, Christiana Care, and Nemours, and offer experience engaging new audiences. The community development experience of Susan Thomas, founder of IAM for Social Good, will further deepen the Museum’s ability to connect local communities with art.

Entrepreneurs Eric Smith and Christopher Savage bring experience that aligns with the Museum’s investment in growing Wilmington’s creative economy. Ronald Varney will help the Museum share its art beyond the region, building national relationships between art audiences and DelArt’s unique collections.

Molly Giordano, a longtime DelArt leader who was named Executive Director by the Board of Directors this past February, believes the expanded and diversified board will be key to the Museum’s plans for its next chapter. Giordano states, “I envision a Museum that works collaboratively with organizations throughout our region to develop Wilmington’s creative economy and ensure access to the arts for all.” Giordano is now working with staff, trustees, and volunteers on a strategic planning effort that will outline the steps necessary to realize that vision. DelArt’s strategic plan will be shared publicly this fall.

Experience Music, Dance, Food Trucks and Traditions at this Ancestral Celebration

The Delaware Art Museum will host a second annual Juneteenth event on Saturday, June 19, 2021, from 10 am – 4 pm in the Copeland Sculpture Garden and Labyrinth. The free Beyond Juneteenth: Egungun Festival, is an opportunity to not only celebrate a historic holiday, but also to look forward and build community.

The day begins with a libation followed by a Juneteenth flag raising ceremony with Baba Hamin El. Nadjah Nicole and Jea Street, Jr., will perform “Lift Every Voice and Sing,” known as the Black national anthem. The festivities continue with live performances from The Sankofa African dancers, Ghetto Songbird, Hezekiah, Egungun lle Igoke, Ebony Zuudia, Stiggz Stigalo, Tonantzin Yaotecas Aztec Dancers, Egungun Oloba, Robert Muhammad and the 2020 winner of the inaugural National Miss Juneteenth Pageant, Saniya Gray. Guests can enjoy vendors and food trucks. There will be kid-friendly arts and crafts stations with Kyma, such as paper drum making and art therapy with 7God in the Labyrinth, and a drum circle.

The hosts of the event are Abundancechild, venture culturalist and Ifa priestess; Dr. G, holistic, spiritual and metaphysical life coach; and Rachelle Wilson, founder of the Make Some Intelligent Noise criminal justice and prison reform movement.

Abundancechild, founder of the event, said, “We call this ‘Beyond Juneteenth: Egungun Festival’ because it’s more than a celebration of a Black holiday. It’s a veneration and tribute to our community’s collective ancestors. We take the opportunity of a well-known tradition and build upon it to learn, connect, and be empowered, so we can acknowledge the ancestral legacy we have yet to grow into.”

She added, “Honoring our ancestors means honoring ourselves, our parents, our children, and treating people how they want to be treated. It’s showing up for each other—something our ancestors have always done. Whether you’re Moorish, or an aboriginal American or believe your ancestors came from Africa, and even if your tribe comes together to celebrate in kilts or with gyros, we need to start having an Egungun energy. We all recognize that someone got freed that day. If we come together, our ancestors will bless us together.”

Juneteenth is a portmanteau of June and nineteenth; it recognizes June 19, 1865, the date that the September 1862 Emancipation Proclamation was read to the people of Galveston, Texas. This event signaled that Union troops would be enforcing the Proclamation in Texas, affecting the practical manifestation of the three-year old law. The reading ceremoniously freed people who had been enslaved or bonded in the final, most remote state that still defied the law by allowing slavery.

Community Engagement Specialist Iz Balleto, who co-organized the event, said, “What matters to us is for all people to know the purpose of Juneteenth and the meaning behind it. That is why, here at the Delaware Art Museum, we value the cultural aspect of Beyond Juneteenth.”

The Smithsonian Institution describes “Egungun,” a word from the Yoruban language, as “a visible manifestation of the spirits of departed ancestors who periodically revisit the human community for remembrance, celebration, and blessings.”

The Beyond Juneteenth: Egungun Festival is part of 155 years of celebrations that commemorate a special date, alternately known as Freedom Day, Jubilee Day, Liberation Day and Emancipation Day, and honor the people who are the Egungun of today’s Black, Indigenous and people of color.

Registration is required for the free event, as the event is expected to sell out early. Some seating is available, but guests are encouraged to bring lawn chairs and blankets, as well as cash or card for food purchases. Face coverings are required inside the Delaware Art Museum for individuals aged kindergarten and up not fully vaccinated from the COVID-19 virus. Fully vaccinated guests may remove their masks indoors and out, except in crowded settings. Social distancing of three feet should be maintained between parties.

Sponsored by Abundance Child Ministries Inc, Delaware Juneteenth Organizing Movement, Ile Igoke, 302GunsDown, The Afrakan Independence Day Organizing Committee and Guerrilla Republik. This program is supported, in part, by a grant from the Delaware Division of the Arts, a state agency, in partnership with the National Endowment for the Arts. The Division promotes Delaware arts events on www.DelawareScene.com.

About the Delaware Art Museum

For over 100 years, the Museum has served as a primary arts and cultural institution in Delaware. It is alive with experiences, discoveries, and activities to connect people with art and with each other. Originally created in 1912 to honor the renowned illustrator and Wilmington-native, Howard Pyle, the Museum’s collection has grown to over 12,000 works of art in our building and sculpture garden. Also recognized for British Pre-Raphaelite art, the Museum is home to the most comprehensive Pre-Raphaelite collection on display outside of the United Kingdom, and a growing collection of significant contemporary art.

Under the leadership of our Board of Trustees, the Delaware Art Museum is implementing a comprehensive approach to community and civic engagement. This exciting new strategic direction requires that we increase our value and relevance to all audiences. Visit delart.org to for the latest exhibitions, programs, and performances or connect with us via social media.

IF YOU GO

WHAT: Beyond Juneteenth: Egungun Festival at the Delaware Art Museum
WHEN: Saturday, June 19, 2021, 10 am – 4 pm
WHERE: Delaware Art Museum, 2301 Kentmere Parkway, Wilmington, DE 19806
COST: Free
INFO: delart.org

Delaware Art Museum announces new performance The Bridge of Our Roots by choreographer Dara Meredith.

WHAT: Premiere Dance Performance, The Bridge of Our Roots
WHO: Dara Meredith, Dancer in Residence at Delaware Art Museum
WHERE: On-site and Virtual Event
WHEN: Thursday, July 1 at 8 pm

On Thursday, July 1 at 8 pm, Dara Meredith’s virtual dance residency at the Delaware Art Museum will culminate with the premiere of The Bridge of Our Roots. The commissioned dance is inspired by the painting Southern Souvenir No. II created by African American modern artist Eldzier Cortor in 1948. Cortor’s painting depicts the disembodied figures of Black women, torn apart physically and stripped of their identities. Meredith’s dance residency has focused on Cortor’s artwork, on loan from the Art Bridges Foundation and on display at the Delaware Art Museum through July.

“The work will delve into the idea that Black bodies, and Black women specifically, have been ostracized, dismantled, separated, and abused; all the while being the backbone and the foundation of continuity for American culture,” said Meredith, describing the dance. “The work showcases the complexity of what Black women in the south have experienced while having to hold the nation on its breast so that it may live and live on.”

The pre-recorded performance will be filmed in Fusco Hall at night with the painting in the background while six dancers, including Meredith, distill the themes and emotional energy of Cortor’s artwork into choreography.

“They will show in movement what you see and feel through the piece,” said Jonathan Whitney of Flux Creative Consulting, which is producing the event. “Meredith’s performance speaks to the experiences of people of color, especially in the wake of police shootings of unarmed Black women. So it only makes sense to elevate this Black female choreographer to respond to artwork that is about Black female bodies.”

Tickets are now available for the dance premiere, which can be viewed on-site or virtually. A limited number of tickets are available to view the pre-recorded 50-minute performance on-site at the Museum with Dara Meredith, at 8 p.m. on July 1. On-site ticketholders will have access to a special gallery talk in front of Southern Souvenir No. II beforehand, and a live discussion with the choreographer following the performance premiere. Alternatively, virtual tickets may be purchased for watching at home via an exclusive link. All ticketholders will have unlimited virtual access to the recorded performance through July 10.

Prior to the performance, Meredith will host an outdoor dance workshop on Saturday, June 12, 2021 at 2 pm in the Museum’s Copeland Sculpture Garden.Meredith will teach an excerpt of the commissioned dance she is creating for the Museum. All levels welcome; dancers will wear masks and maintain social distancing.

Sponsors: Support provided by Art Bridges. This program is supported, in part, by a grant from the Delaware Division of the Arts, a state agency, in partnership with the National Endowment for the Arts. The Division promotes Delaware arts events on www.DelawareScene.com.

About the Delaware Art Museum

For over 100 years, the Museum has served as a primary arts and cultural institution in Delaware. It is alive with experiences, discoveries, and activities to connect people with art and with each other. Originally created in 1912 to honor the renowned illustrator and Wilmington-native, Howard Pyle, the Museum’s collection has grown to over 12,000 works of art in our building and sculpture garden. Also recognized for British Pre-Raphaelite art, the Museum is home to the most comprehensive Pre-Raphaelite collection on display outside of the United Kingdom, and a growing collection of significant contemporary art.

Under the leadership of our Board of Trustees, the Delaware Art Museum is implementing a comprehensive approach to community and civic engagement. This exciting new strategic direction requires that we increase our value and relevance to all audiences. Visit delart.org to for the latest exhibitions, programs, and performances or connect with us via social media.

Music, Food, Beverages and Fun on the Museum Grounds Every Thursday

Happy Hours return to the Delaware Art Museum’s Terrace and Copeland Sculpture Garden on Thursday, May 27. The popular, free series offers guests an opportunity to relax and unwind with live music, local brews, wine, cocktails, and rotating food vendors, surrounded by art. Weather permitting, Happy Hours take place every Thursday from 5 pm – 7:30 pm, a time which overlaps with the Museum’s free Thursday evening hours.

The Happy Hours schedule is as follows:

May 27: Joseph Whitney (Steel Drum) and Natalie’s Fine Food Truck
Jun 3: Pristine Raeign (Soul, Funk, Jazz, Motown and the Philly Sound) and Los Taquitos De Puebla
Jun 10: Edgewater Avenue (Americana, Bluegrass) and Toscana Catering
Jun 17: Jea Street (Soul) and Los Taquitos De Puebla
Jun 24: Skinner & Spadola (Acoustic Duo) and Natalie’s Fine Food Truck
Jul 1: The Seedlings (Rock, Blues and Originals) and Los Taquitos De Puebla
Jul 8: Betty & the Bullet (Americana) and Toscana Catering
Jul 15: Pristine Raeign (Soul, Funk, Jazz, Motown and the Philly Sound) and Los Taquitos De Puebla
Jul 22: Betty & the Bullet (Americana) and Natalie’s Fine Food Truck
Jul 29: Edgewater Avenue (Americana, Bluegrass) and Los Taquitos De Puebla
Aug 5: Sharon & Shawn (Jazz) and Toscana Catering
Aug 12: Jea Street (Soul) and Los Taquitos De Puebla
Aug 19: The Seedlings (Rock, Blues and Originals) and Natalie’s Fine Food Truck
Aug 26: Joseph Whitney (Steel Drum) and Los Taquitos De Puebla
Sep 2: DJ Willie Wilmington (Salsa DJ & Dance) and Toscana Catering
Sep 9: Skinner & Spadola (Acoustic Duo) and Los Taquitos De Puebla
Sep 16: Sharon & Shawn (Jazz) and Natalie’s Fine Food Truck

Lauren McMahon, Delaware Art Museum’s Event and Rentals Manager, said, “Our open-air happy hours exploded in popularity in 2020, no doubt because people were seeking outdoor entertainment alternatives due to COVID-19. We are elated that we can continue to increase our value to the community in this way and be part of a vibrant, culturally significant Wilmington. And we hope our outdoor visitors take in some of the indoor arts experience, since Thursday nights are both our free night and our late night.”

No registration is required for the happy hours. Some seating is available, but guests are encouraged to bring lawn chairs and blankets, as well as cash or card for bar and food purchases.

Until state guidelines change, guests are asked to wear masks unless seated and eating or drinking.

IF YOU GO:

WHAT: Delaware Art Museum Happy Hours
WHEN: Thursdays, starting May 27, 2021, 5 pm — 7:30 pm
WHERE: Delaware Art Museum Terrace and Copeland Sculpture Garden, 2301 Kentmere Parkway, Wilmington, DE 19806
COST: Free
INFO: delart.org

Sponsors

Happy Hours are sponsored by Gordon, Fournaris & Mammarella, P.A. and Total Wine & More. This program is supported, in part, by a grant from the Delaware Division of the Arts, a state agency, in partnership with the National Endowment for the Arts. The Division promotes Delaware arts events on www.DelawareScene.com.

About the Delaware Art Museum

For over 100 years, the Museum has served as a primary arts and cultural institution in Delaware. It is alive with experiences, discoveries, and activities to connect people with art and with each other. Originally created in 1912 to honor the renowned illustrator and Wilmington-native, Howard Pyle, the Museum’s collection has grown to over 12,000 works of art in our building and sculpture garden. Also recognized for British Pre-Raphaelite art, the Museum is home to the most comprehensive Pre-Raphaelite collection on display outside of the United Kingdom, and a growing collection of significant contemporary art.

Under the leadership of our Board of Trustees, the Delaware Art Museum is implementing a comprehensive approach to community and civic engagement. This exciting new strategic direction requires that we increase our value and relevance to all audiences. Visit delart.org to for the latest exhibitions, programs, and performances or connect with us via social media.

As the Museum reinstalls the main floor galleries, we share a “behind-the-scenes” look at how we care for and display the artwork in our collection, and how some of these practices can be applied to artwork in your own home. As a museum registrar, I am responsible for ensuring that the artwork in the Museum’s collection is in good condition, so it remains accessible to museum patrons. In DelArt’s Virtual Spring Magazine, I shared a few tips on how to bring some museum collections care practices into your own home art collections. In case you missed it, you can find it here.

Delaware Art Museum Chief Preparator Jonathan Schoff and Preparator John Gibbons are an integral part of the museum’s collections care work, as well as the 2021 reinstallation project. They are responsible for preparing artwork for display, and for the care, movement, and installation of all the objects throughout the museum. I recently asked them to share their best tips for framing, hanging, and packing art.

Art Handling 101

Use nitrile gloves when handling paintings, photographs, and three-dimensional objects. These prevent oils and debris from your hands from damaging the surface of the artwork. Do not use gloves when handling works on paper, especially delicate and fragile paper. This inhibits hand dexterity and increases the risk of mishandling and damage. Always make sure your hands are clean and dry!

Matting and Framing 101

How do you choose the right mat and frame for your artwork?

JS & JG: There is no set rule, but I would recommend at least a 2 ½ inch mat border around the object. If it is a large work of art, you may want a 3-4 inch border.   Add the border measurements to the measurements of the object, and that will be the frame size you need. Sometimes if you already have a special frame in mind, you may use that and customize the mat to fit accordingly.  It is very important to have a good quality non-acidic archival mat that is either 4 ply or 8 ply.  The thickness of the mat may be of personal preference or cost.

How can you secure the artwork to the mat, so it stays in place when hung?

JS & JG: You can create simple paper hinges. [See video below] I recommend using Japanese paper and wheat paste for your hinges.  Be careful not to oversaturate the hinge with paste. Doing so could wrinkle the paper where the hinge is in contact.  The most important thing is to make sure that the adhesive you are using is reversible and not permanent. In some cases when there is a large paper margin around the image, such as when you are matting a photograph, you can use plastic photo corners to secure the object to the mat. Paper corners can also be made and used to secure works on paper to a mat.

Take a look at how we hinge, mat, and frame a photograph for exhibition at the Museum.

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In this video, Jonathan Schoff is using water to activate a hinge that already has wheat paste on it.

Art Packing 101

If you are moving artwork, plan for safe transport by packing it in archival and protective materials.

  • Do not leave artwork in bubble wrap for long periods of time, as it may leave marks on and stick to the object. Wrap the object in polyester film, glassine (a translucent paper that is air, water, and grease resistant), or archival Tyvek (a breathable pH-neutral material made from polyethylene fibers) before applying bubble wrap. The bubble should face out to protect the art and minimize risk of the bubbles sticking the object’s surface.
  • Apply tape only to secure packing materials to one another; never use tape directly on an art object. To help remove tape from packed artwork, fold over one edge of the strip of tape to create a pull tab. This allows easy removal without the need for a knife or box cutter!
  • Foam core and cardboard can be used to create a slip-case as exterior packing outside of the archival packing materials, to provide a more rigid protective layer. Don’t use these materials directly on the surface of an artwork, because they are not archival, and they may stick to the surface of objects, can easily deteriorate, and may cause staining on the object because of their acidic properties.

What are the 3 essential tips and must-haves for packing artwork?

JS & JG:

  • Carboard sheets, archival plastic, bubble wrap, glassine, and packing tape are essential materials. A box cutter, tape measure, and pencil are essential tools.
  • Use a sturdy box or crate that is foam-lined to provide protection against vibration while traveling in a truck.
  • Sealing plastic around the art can create a microclimate, which will help stabilize the temperature and humidity and protect the art from minor fluctuations. Be aware of where you are storing your art and keep it away from heat or moisture.

Art Hanging 101

What is the standard height for hanging artwork?

JS & JG: We generally hang two-dimensional works of art at a 58-inch center in the Museum. This is so the center of each painting is at a general eye level, averaged at 58 inches. When hanging work at home, there are architectural elements that may force you to hang things at different heights. With groups of smaller objects and limited wall space, you could hang them stacked on top and next to one another in a “salon style.”  Finding relationships with your art is important when hanging in groups. This could be through subject matter, style, or a thematic connection. At the Museum, we generally follow the exhibition design envisioned by the curator. The much-anticipated reinstallation of the Museum’s Picturing America (American Art through 1900) Gallery, opening June 19th, will include a large salon wall. Stay tuned for a behind-the-scenes look at the installation of this gallery!

Elizabeth Denholm
Associate Registrar

Disclaimer: If you are unsure how to pack, move, or storage your artwork, or you have big plans for your own in-home art installation, contract a local fine art handler or art transport and storage company.

Aesthetic Dynamics, Inc. will co-present the exhibition 50 years after its original showing.

Opening October 23, 2021, Afro-American Images 1971: The Vision of Percy Ricks honors the 50th anniversary of a groundbreaking exhibition at the Wilmington Armory that history once ignored.

In 1971, the Wilmington-based artist collective Aesthetic Dynamics, Inc., led by artist and educator Percy Ricks, mounted Afro-American Images 1971. Comprising over 100 works of painting, sculpture, photography, prints, and drawings from nationally-known artists like Sam Gilliam, Alma Thomas, and Faith Ringgold as well as local luminaries Edward Loper, Sr. and Edward Loper, Jr., Afro-American Images 1971 represented the creation of a space for Black artists who were largely excluded from major artistic institutions. The original 1971 show has been restaged almost in its entirety, giving audiences an opportunity to re-experience history as well as the unique approach undertaken by Aesthetic Dynamics, Inc.

“Percy Ricks’ prescience in organizing this 1971 exhibition was remarkable. He chose artists who not only had talent and vision but many who would go on to have long and broadly visible art careers,” says Colette Gaiter, a member of the Advisory Committee and an Associate Professor, Africana Studies and Art & Design, University of Delaware. “This collection of works embodies post-1968 energy that was part of the national Black Arts movement, one of the most important 20th-century liberation movements.” Despite the caliber of the historic exhibition, it has not been widely written about or publicly researched and documented before now. This project calls that omission into question.

Speaking of the exclusion of Black art from the larger story of American Art, independent curator and advisory committee member Dr. Kelli Morgan notes: “There’s always been a critical mass—of people, art historians, collectors, writers, galleries—that have been protectors or guardians that keep [this work]. They’re the communities in which the work resides, and a lot of times those communities are ‘off the beaten path’ or out of major institutions. This show does a lot to demonstrate that we have our own frameworks. We have our own spaces outside of—or even adjacent to—the major Black institution. The show visualizes how other Black arts professionals have kept the work and the history alive […] to illuminate the broader story and activity of so many other Black artists, historians, and curators.”

Crucially, Afro-American Images 1971: The Vision of Percy Ricks represents a multi-year collaboration between the Delaware Art Museum and members of the community, signifying a crucial moment in the Museum’s ongoing process of re-establishing itself as an inclusive artistic hub for the city of Wilmington. The Advisory Committee for this exhibition consists of humanities scholars, community leaders, and members of Aesthetic Dynamics, Inc. with strong understanding of art history, American history, social justice, and the creativity of Black artists. Members include Beatrice (Bebe) Coker,  James E. Newton, Jeanne Nutter, Marilyn Whittington, Arnold Hurtt, Julie McGee, Rita Volkens, Colette Gaiter, Kelli Morgan, Harmon Carey, and Raye Jones-Avery.

“Percy Ricks served as a major advocate for the arts in general, in particular for African American artists,” says Dr. Newton of Aesthetic Dynamics, Inc. “His legacy continues with this historic exhibition.”

Organizers and Sponsors

This exhibition was organized by the Delaware Art Museum and Aesthetic Dynamics, Inc. This exhibition is made possible by the Johannes R. and Betty P. Krahmer American Art Exhibition Fund and the Emily DuPont Exhibition Fund. This project is supported in part by the National Endowment for the Arts.This organization is supported, in part, by a grant from the Delaware Division of the Arts, a state agency, in partnership with the National Endowment for the Arts. The Division promotes Delaware arts events on www.DelawareScene.com.

About the Delaware Art Museum

For over 100 years, the Museum has served as a primary arts and cultural institution in Delaware. It is alive with experiences, discoveries, and activities to connect people with art and with each other. Originally created in 1912 to honor the renowned illustrator and Wilmington-native, Howard Pyle, the Museum’s collection has grown to over 12,000 works of art in our building and sculpture garden. Also recognized for British Pre-Raphaelite art, the Museum is home to the most comprehensive Pre-Raphaelite collection on display outside of the United Kingdom, and a growing collection of significant contemporary art.

Under the leadership of our Board of Trustees, the Delaware Art Museum is implementing a comprehensive approach to community and civic engagement. This exciting new strategic direction requires that we increase our value and relevance to all audiences. Visit delart.org to for the latest exhibitions, programs, and performances or connect with us via social media.

Image: Waiting, (detail) 1968. Ernest Crichlow (1914–2005). Lithograph, composition: 12 × 11 1/2 inches, sheet: 18 1/2 × 13 3/4 inches. Delaware Art Museum, Acquisition Fund, 2019. © Estate of Ernest Crichlow.>/p>

“April showers bring …” Well, you know the rest. But there’s no reason to wait until May to enjoy the beauty of flowers. In fact, a rainy April day is the perfect time for a visit to the Delaware Art Museum where the galleries are brimming with painted blooms. On a sunny day, you could enjoy the flowering trees of the Copeland Sculpture Garden too! Some of the downstairs galleries are closed, but upstairs the art scene is flourishing.

This spring DelArt’s galleries dedicated to modern American art host a variety of florals. On the south wall of the large gallery of Modern American Realism, Henriette Wyeth, Frank Marsden London, and N.C. Wyeth capture three seasons of plant life. Henriette Wyeth’s Still Life shows an ikebana-inspired display of winter pine and pyracantha, enlivened by the ceramic figurine that seems to be watching the arrangement come together. Less quirky minimalist and a lot more Southern Gothic in its mood, Frank Marsden London’s Spring Glory features a branch wound in morning glory and roses, with a robin’s nest tucked in among the foliage. In our area, these flowers would be markers of summer, but the artist lived in North Carolina. A prominently placed scythe adds a layer of menace to the picture, painted during the dark days of World War II. N.C. Wyeth’s The Springhouse captures Queen Anne’s Lace, among other local late-summer plants.

The floral highlight of this room this spring is Georgia O’Keeffe’s Jonquils I, a 1936 painting on loan to the Museum from a private collection. O’Keeffe gave her characteristic precise, close-up treatment to a trio of yellow daffodils. The painting has a clear center—the corona of the central flower—but the artist resisted symmetry, playing up differences in tone and allowing the petals of the central flower to obscure most of the flower on the right. The subtle asymmetries of natural forms fascinated the painter in the 1930s. The lavender background intensifies the green and yellow hues and gives the painting a modern edge. On the East Coast, daffodils are early signs of spring, harbingers of longer days and warmer weather. The composition of O’Keeffe’s painting, with blooms arranged horizontally across the canvas, recalls a landscape—perhaps even a sunrise. Jonquils I reflects the optimism and renewal of springtime, especially this year.

Two florals await you in the smaller gallery. Joseph Stella’s The Lotus, c. 1930, has much in common with O’Keeffe’s painting. Flowers are presented up close and centered, and the colors create a play of warm and cool that dances on the edge of acidic dissonance. Stella depicted nature throughout his career—he spoke of his wish to end each day painting flowers—but he often used them to create elaborate modernist fantasies. DelArt’s painting hints at that direction. Despite the precise rendering of the floral forms, The Lotus steps further from nature toward art deco design. I’m looking forward to the 2023 exhibition at the Brandywine River Museum to learn more about this aspect of Stella’s career.

Finally, let’s end our tour of modern flowers by spending some time with a large canvas by Jane Freilicher. The work was recently conserved and is on view for the first time in at least 15 years. The aptly named Fresh Air dates from around 1960, when Freilicher was active at the heart of the second generation of Abstract Expressionist artists. Her large canvas captures the riotous energy of a garden at mid-summer. The loose, energetic brushwork contrasts with the precision of O’Keeffe and Stella and reflects the turn among American artists toward active and emotionally expressive handling. Women in Abstract Expressionist circles—including Freilicher, Joan Mitchell, and Helen Frankenthaler—excelled at translating nature into powerful modern paintings.

image

Fresh Air, c.1958-1962. Jane Freilicher (1924-2014). Oil on canvas, 58 1/2 x 35 1/8 inches. Delaware Art Museum, Gift of Adalar Marberger, 1981. © Estate of Jane Freilicher.

Flowers and gardens, which inspired so much Impressionist innovation, have a place at the center of American modernism. They provide artists with particular challenges. As Delaware painter Mary Page Evans has noted: “You’re making order out of chaos. There’s a lot out there . . . and it’s just as important what you exclude as what you include. What you do is to leave out the extraneous details and concentrate on what builds and sustains a mood.”

I hope you can join us in the Copeland Sculpture Garden on May 16 for Brunch, Brushes, and Blooms. Be sure to have a look around the galleries while you’re here.

Heather Campbell Coyle
Chief Curator and Curator of American Art

Top image: Jonquils I, 1936. Georgia O’Keeffe (1887-1986). Oil on canvas, 16 x 22 inches. Private Collection, Delaware, courtesy of Art Finance Partners LLC © Georgia O’Keeffe Museum/Artists Rights Society (ARS) New York.

“What’s Past is Prologue” at the Delaware Art Museum

On April 29, Pyxis Piano Quartet, Delaware Art Museum’s resident classical ensemble, returns “home” to the galleries where they played their very first concert over a decade ago. “What’s Past is Prologue,” premiering in a ticketed virtual concert, will feature the group playing amid the Museum’s renowned collection British Pre-Raphaelite Art.

Founded as the Museum’s resident ensemble and the anchor of Concerts on Kentmere, Pyxis programs its offerings in conversation with the art on view. In the Pre-Raphaelite galleries, they play British works – Two Intermezzi for String Trio by C.H.H. Parry and Gordon Jacob’s Six Shakespearian Sketches – along with Richard Strauss’ blazingly virtuosic Piano Quartet in C minor, Op. 13.

Jacob’s 1946 suite is a musical exploration of Shakespeare’s works, also an inspiration for artist Dante Gabriel Rossetti and the Pre-Raphaelite Brotherhood. Parry and Strauss wrote their pieces in 1884, during the era encompassing the creation of The Council Chamber by Edward Burne-Jones, the monumental painting framing the ensemble as they play this concert.

This 12th-season concert is especially meaningful – it is the final time the ensemble will play in the galleries where their artistic journey began. On June 21, the Museum’s renowned collection will close as the Museum reimagines the stories it tells with art. Radical Beauty, new permanent galleries of Pre-Raphaelite art, will open on July 31.

The concert’s title, “What’s Past is Prologue,” is taken from The Tempest, a Shakespeare play cited in the Jacob work. Chosen to epitomize the ensemble’s arc allowing the past to shape their future, it also honors these 19th century artists who looked back to the time of Raphael for the impetus that propelled them forward.

“There are no words to describe how inspiring it is to perform the Museum’s galleries,” says ensemble pianist Hiroko Yamazaki. “We are so grateful that this has been our home since 2009. It’s such an intimate and exquisite setting, perfect for our chamber music!”

Pyxis Piano Quartet includes Luigi Mazzocchi (violin); founding members Jennifer Jie Jin (cello) and Hiroko Yamazaki (piano); and for this concert, guest artist Hannah Rose Nicholas (viola). Tickets, priced at $20 per household for Museum Members and $25 for Non-Members, are now available. Ticket holders for the virtual online premiere (Thursday, April 29 at 7 pm) can join the event via an exclusive link that includes a post-performance “meet the artists” discussion and unlimited viewing through May 5.

Sponsors: This organization is supported, in part, by a grant from the Delaware Division of the Arts, a state agency, in partnership with the National Endowment for the Arts. The Division promotes Delaware arts events on www.DelawareScene.com.

About the Delaware Art Museum

For over 100 years, the Museum has served as a primary arts and cultural institution in Delaware. It is alive with experiences, discoveries, and activities to connect people with art and with each other. Originally created in 1912 to honor the renowned illustrator and Wilmington-native, Howard Pyle, the Museum’s collection has grown to over 12,000 works of art in our building and sculpture garden. Also recognized for British Pre-Raphaelite art, the Museum is home to the most comprehensive Pre-Raphaelite collection on display outside of the United Kingdom, and a growing collection of significant contemporary art.

Under the leadership of our Board of Trustees, the Delaware Art Museum is implementing a comprehensive approach to community and civic engagement. This exciting new strategic direction requires that we increase our value and relevance to all audiences. Visit delart.org to for the latest exhibitions, programs, and performances or connect with us via social media.

African poet and scholar Amadou Hampâté Bâ (1900–1991) brilliantly stated, “Every time an old man dies in Africa, it is as if a library has burnt down.” His observation was closely tied to his dedication to preserving oral traditions but perhaps such a poignant reflection could be made about any one person in the world. When an artist dies, especially when young in their career, does a museum die with them?

When David Wojnarowicz died from AIDS-related complications in 1992, he was just 37.

Countless works of art have been created in response to the HIV/AIDS epidemic, and perhaps one of the most powerful is this photograph taken for a collaboration between Wojnarowicz and the German documentary and portrait photographer, Andreas Sterzing, who lived in New York for 20 years. This work of art is so impactful that in 2020 it was named one of the 25 most influential works of American protest art since World War II by The New York Times Magazine.

During the mid 1980s, Sterzing documented art installations and activities throughout the East Village and “Pier 34” artist communities. Sterzing knew both Wojnarowicz and the German gay rights activist and filmmaker, Rosa von Praunheim, who collaborated with fellow filmmaker Phil Zwickler to create the 1990 documentary Silence = Death. The title of the film references the slogan made famous by the mid-1980s poster campaign by the AIDS activist group, ACT UP.

In the film Silence = Death, artists and writers such as Keith Haring, Allen Ginsberg, and Wojnarowicz respond to the AIDS epidemic. The representation by Wojnarowicz of inflicting pain upon his body by apparently sewing his lips together serves as a protest to the silencing of the devastating impact of AIDS by both politicians and society at large beginning in the mid-1980s.

Wojnarowicz was an active member of the East Village art scene in New York City in the 1980s, and his former partner Peter Hujar’s AIDS diagnosis and death in 1987 led him to more direct political activism with an emphasis on the epidemic. 1987 was also the year that AIDS activist Cleve Jones created the first panel for what has become a 1.2-million-square-foot AIDS Memorial Quilt and the year President Ronald Reagan made his first public speech about the epidemic, more than six years after the first cases were reported in the United States. Two years later, Wojnarowicz’s activism led him to create this work with Andreas Sterzing.

David Wojnarowicz was criticized and censored during and after his lifetime for the visceral works of art he created. A creation such as this one, embodied in stark black and white by Sterzing, triggers our kinesthetic understanding. We can imagine the physical discomfort of a needle piercing skin, and we know the color of the lines trailing down the artist’s chin. Today, this image may also be seen through the lens of censorship and the artist’s early death. Wojnarowicz stated, “I think what I really fear about death is the silencing of my voice. I feel this incredible pressure to leave something of myself behind.”

Recently, historians and curators have explored the rich artistic history of New York in the 1980s, a time of vibrancy despite the ravaging of the art community by AIDS. As an important figure in this story, Andreas Sterzing has been included in several museum exhibitions and associated publications. The artist has also made his numerous photographs available for online viewing, including slideshows Something Possible Everywhere: Pier 34 NYC 1983–84 and Alphabet City & the East Village Art Scene NYC 1980s.

Prior to the Museum’s 2020 purchase of Andreas Sterzing’s photograph, David Wojnarowiz (Silence = Death); New York, artistic response to the AIDS epidemic was not visibly represented in the Delaware Art Museum’s collection. This acquisition supports the Museum’s ability to share works of art that translate the expanse of human experience into visual form.

Join me for Art Chat on April 15 when I speak with Andreas Sterzing about art in New York City in the 1980s with a special focus on creative activities at Pier 34 and the work of Robert Jones and David Wojnarowicz.

Margaret Winslow
Curator of Contemporary Art

Image: David Wojnarowicz (Silence=Death); New York, 1989/2014. Andreas Sterzing (born 1956). Pigment print, 24 × 18 1/2 inches. Delaware Art Museum, Acquisition Fund, 2020. © Andreas Sterzing.

DelArt Cinema Screenings Moved to Select Fridays

On the heels of its successful sold-out fall run of drive-in movies, the Delaware Art Museum has again partnered with DelArt Cinema to screen flicks on the Museum’s grounds in the Copeland Sculpture Garden. Film buffs can enjoy socially-distant, crowd-pleasing classics – The Birdcage, All About Eve and The Cotton Club – each projecting a peek into the life of a fictional performer and his or her circle of influence. The events take place on select Fridays from April 16 to May 7, 2021, with more to be announced. Parking begins at 7:15 p.m. and each movie starts at dusk.

Dates and synopses for each film:

The Birdcage, April 16. This 1996 film stars Robin Williams and Nathan Lane as the two very “out” dads – one a drag performer and the other a nightclub owner – of a man worriedly introducing them to his fiancée’s conservative mom and dad. Rated R.

All About Eve, April 23. This award-smashing 1950 film centers on the never-ending cycle of aging stars, in this case Bette Davis’ Margo, and ambitious ingénues, Anne Baxter’s Eve, as well as Marilyn Monroe’s Miss Caswell. Not rated.

The Cotton Club, May 7. This mob-themed Coppola film is a fictional 1984 take on a real Harlem jazz club in the 1930s, starring Richard Gere is the protagonist jazz musician, supported by Gregory Hines, Diane Lane, Gwen Verdon, Fred Gwynne and Maurice Hines. Rated R.

Marion Jackson, Director of Operations for DelArt Cinema, described the film selection process, “We are revisiting The Birdcage, which was rained out last fall. All About Eve and The Cotton Club couldn’t be more different in genres, but each offers an escape from the worries of 2021, with beautiful actors, elegant costuming, and dramatic showbiz storylines.”

Lauren McMahon, Delaware Art Museum’s Event and Rentals Manager, said, “The Museum continues to welcome visitors for the indoor arts experience during COVID-19, but our ability to return to outdoor, after-hours events is really exciting. We are committed to balancing relevance in the community and sustainability, and the increased capacity open-air events offer is invaluable. Our campus is both beautiful and sizable for social distancing, and our parking lot has a terrific layout for drive-in movies.”

Admission is $19 per person and includes popcorn and soda, with a discount extended to Museum members. Children ages 6 and under are free. Admission is by advanced purchase only.

Popcorn and sodas are handed to you upon arrival. Additional concessions are available on site. Museum restrooms will be available in the studio wing, and masks are required for interaction with staff and restroom visits. FM radio transmission is required to hear the movies.

Moviegoers are asked to arrive no later than 20 minutes before show time; late arrivals will be parked at the Museum’s discretion. Rain dates will be scheduled as needed.

This program is supported, in part, by a grant from the Delaware Division of the Arts, a state agency, in partnership with the National Endowment for the Arts. The Division promotes Delaware arts events on www.DelawareScene.com.

About the Delaware Art Museum

For over 100 years, the Museum has served as a primary arts and cultural institution in Delaware. It is alive with experiences, discoveries, and activities to connect people with art and with each other. Originally created in 1912 to honor the renowned illustrator and Wilmington-native, Howard Pyle, the Museum’s collection has grown to over 12,000 works of art in our building and sculpture garden. Also recognized for British Pre-Raphaelite art, the Museum is home to the most comprehensive Pre-Raphaelite collection on display outside of the United Kingdom, and a growing collection of significant contemporary art.

Under the leadership of our Board of Trustees, the Delaware Art Museum is implementing a comprehensive approach to community and civic engagement. This exciting new strategic direction requires that we increase our value and relevance to all audiences. Visit delart.org to for the latest exhibitions, programs, and performances or connect with us via social media.

IF YOU GO:

WHAT: Delaware Art Museum and DelArt Cinema Present Drive-in The Birdcage
WHEN: Friday, Apr. 16, 2021, approximately 8 pm, gates open 7:15 pm
WHERE: Delaware Art Museum Copeland Sculpture Garden, 2301 Kentmere Parkway, Wilmington, DE 19806
COST: $17—$19 (discount for Members)
INFO: delart.org

WHAT: Delaware Art Museum and DelArt Cinema Present Drive-in All About Eve
WHEN: Friday, Apr. 23, 2021, approximately 8 pm, gates open 7:15 pm
WHERE: Delaware Art Museum Copeland Sculpture Garden, 2301 Kentmere Parkway, Wilmington, DE 19806
COST: $17—$19 (discount for Members)
INFO: delart.org

WHAT: Delaware Art Museum and DelArt Cinema Present Drive-in The Cotton Club
WHEN: Friday, May 7, 2021, approximately 8 pm, gates open 7:15 pm
WHERE: Delaware Art Museum Copeland Sculpture Garden, 2301 Kentmere Parkway, Wilmington, DE 19806
COST: $17—$19 (discount for Members)
INFO: delart.org

Enjoy Brunch, Brushes, and Blooms in the Sculpture Garden and Tented Terrace

The Delaware Art Museum has sown a new al fresco fundraiser on Sunday, May 16, 11 am – 2 pm. “Brunch, Brushes, and Blooms” celebrates spring by offering brunch bites and morning cocktails. The rain-or-shine event will connect people to art outdoors with floral designs paired with the Museum’s outdoor sculptures, along with local painters, dancers and other artists creating and performing, and a silent art auction. Proceeds benefit the Museum.

Confirmed artists to date include painters Mary Page Evans, Ekaterina “Kat” Popova, Jonathan Schoff and painter/sculptor Rick Hidalgo, cyanotype artist Emie Hughes, graffiti artist Francesco Iacono, ceramicist Samara Weaver and dancers from the Wilmington Ballet. Floral designers to date include Flowers by Yukie, Barbara Goetz, Nanci Hersh and Carla Pastore.

Maggie Oda Lyon, Director of Advancement for the Museum, said, “We are so excited to start welcoming people back to the Museum in a safe way! Brunch, Brushes, and Blooms will bring guests into the artist’s world. The beautiful floral arrangements – and getting out of the house – will be a welcome start to this spring Sunday. It all supports the work the Museum does throughout the community.”

Attire is “garden party” chic and both the Terrace and parts of the Sculpture Garden will be tented. The Museum will adhere to any outdoor Covid-19 guidelines in place on the date of the event.

Tickets must be purchased in advance at delart.org. The cost is $95 for Members and $115 for Non-Members, with early bird pricing available until April 1. Featuring fine food and beverages by Jamestown Catering.

Visit delart.org for additional information or contact info@delart.org with further questions.

Press Contact: Amelia Wiggins, Assistant Director of Learning & Engagement, awiggins@delart.org or 302-351-8503.

Sponsors: Jamestown Catering. This event is supported, in part, by a grant from the Delaware Division of the Arts, a state agency, in partnership with the National Endowment for the Arts. The Division promotes Delaware arts events on www.DelawareScene.com.

About the Delaware Art Museum

For over 100 years, the Museum has served as a primary arts and cultural institution in Delaware. It is alive with experiences, discoveries, and activities to connect people with art and with each other. Originally created in 1912 to honor the renowned illustrator and Wilmington-native, Howard Pyle, the Museum’s collection has grown to over 12,000 works of art in our building and sculpture garden. Also recognized for British Pre-Raphaelite art, the Museum is home to the most comprehensive Pre-Raphaelite collection on display outside of the United Kingdom, and a growing collection of significant contemporary art.

Under the leadership of our Board of Trustees, the Delaware Art Museum is implementing a comprehensive approach to community and civic engagement. This exciting new strategic direction requires that we increase our value and relevance to all audiences. Visit delart.org for the latest exhibitions, programs, and performances or connect with us via social media.

Collecting and Connecting: Recent Acquisitions, 2010-2020 will open on March 13.

This month, visitors to the Delaware Art Museum will have the chance to see some of the most exciting art acquired by the Museum over the past decade, brought together in a special exhibition. Collecting and Connecting: Recent Acquisitions, 2010-2020, will be on view from March 13 – September 12.

The recent acquisitions span centuries, styles, cultures, and mediums, and now call the Delaware Art Museum home. Through this exhibition, visitors are invited to sample some of the 1000+ recent additions to the collection and learn how and why the museum collects.

Collecting and Connecting also encourages connections between works of art that might not normally share a space together. The exhibition mixes art from different times and places, encouraging fresh comparisons.

The cascading drapery in a pencil drawing by Edward Burne-Jones is placed next to an abstracted waterfall by Walter Pach; the falling water echoing the folds of the flowing drapery. Pach’s waterfall in turn speaks to a double photograph of a young Black man in profile against a riveted metal backdrop. The abstract patterning in the photograph echoes the fragments of color emanating from the waterfall hanging nearby. This grouping of unrelated work moves from realist to abstract; 19th to 20th century; England to America in a seamless flow emphasizing unanticipated visual relationships.

“It has been a fascinating exercise to look across the museum’s recent acquisitions and see how much a work from 1857 and one from 2005 can tell the same story,” says Caroline Giddis, 2020 Delaware Art Museum Appel Curatorial Fellow. “What happens when you place two unrelated works of art from different continents, centuries, movements, and artistic backgrounds next to one another on a gallery wall? Something magical.”

Collecting and Connecting: Recent Acquisitions, 2010-2020 opens on March 13 and runs through September 12, 2021, in the Anthony N. and Catherine A. Fusco Gallery, with additional recent acquisitions installed and highlighted throughout the Museum and Copeland Sculpture Garden.

Press Contact: Amelia Wiggins, Assistant Director of Learning & Engagement, awiggins@delart.org or 302-351-8503.

Acknowledgement of Support: This exhibition was organized by the Delaware Art Museum and is made possible by the Hallie Tybout Exhibit Fund. The Delaware Art Museum is supported, in part, by a grant from the Delaware Division of the Arts, a state agency, in partnership with the National Endowment for the Arts. The Division promotes Delaware arts events on www.DelawareScene.com.

About the Delaware Art Museum

For over 100 years, the Museum has served as a primary arts and cultural institution in Delaware. It is alive with experiences, discoveries, and activities to connect people with art and with each other. Originally created in 1912 to honor the renowned illustrator and Wilmington native, Howard Pyle, the Museum’s collection has grown to over 12,000 works of art in our building and sculpture garden. Also recognized for British Pre-Raphaelite art, the Museum is home to the most comprehensive collection of Pre-Raphaelite art on display outside of the United Kingdom and a growing collection of significant contemporary art.

Under the leadership of our Board of Trustees, the Delaware Art Museum is implementing a comprehensive approach to community and civic engagement. This exciting new strategic direction requires that we increase our value and relevance to all audiences. Visit delart.org for the latest exhibitions, programs, and performances or connect with us via social media.

Installation image of Collecting and Connecting: Recent Acquisitions, 2011 – 2020. Artwork (left to right): Pear, not dated. Barbara Leigh Smith Bodichon (1827-1891). Watercolor and graphite on wove paper, 9 13/16 × 6 3/4 inches, frame: 16 x 20 inches. Delaware Art Museum, Acquisition Fund, 2017; Study for “A Bather“, c. 1891. Albert Joseph Moore (1841–1893). Colored chalks on buff paper, sheet: 18 × 8 5/8 inches, frame: 25 7/8 x 15 ¾ inches. Delaware Art Museum, Acquisition Fund, 2017; Torso, c. 1972. Bernard Felch (1925–2008). Maple, 34 × 19 × 12 inches. Delaware Art Museum, Gift of Edward and Joy Schweizer, 2013.© Estate of Bernard Jackson Felch; Hymen, the Goddess of Marriage Holding a Harp, and A Married Couple Being Blessed, 1876. Edward Burne Jones (1833–1898). Graphite on paper, compositions: 12 3/4 × 6 1/4 inches and 13 × 6 1/2 inches, frame: 22 3/8 x 24 3/8 inches. Delaware Art Museum, F. V. du Pont Acquisition Fund, 2019.

Right now, I really wish we were preparing a big members’ preview for Collecting and Connecting: Recent Acquisitions, 2010–2020, which opens Saturday, March 12. I’m ready for an evening in Fusco Gallery, listening to visitors admire the installation and delight in making discoveries about art. I want to hear my colleague Margaretta Frederick give a tour and share the inside scoop on how the works of art were selected and arranged. (She and Caroline Giddis, our 2020 Alfred Appel Jr. Curatorial Fellow, had over 1000 works to choose from!) And I want to see the Museum filled with enthusiastic art lovers, looking at the art, catching up with each other, and enjoying wine and music in the East Court. For me, in most years, spring exhibition openings mark the end of a few months of hibernation. They’re a chance to dress up and catch up with DelArt members and friends. I think we could all use this, but unfortunately we can’t gather this way this spring—not yet.

So, I’m inviting you to join me at an opening from over 80 years ago, by looking at Helen Farr Sloan’s Gallery Scene, which captures a crowded opening party. The walls are hung tightly with large canvasses. In small groups, visitors stroll about looking at the paintings and their catalogues. Some stop to greet each other and others settle into the couches to gossip. A tall man with a reddish beard—an artist, perhaps?—gestures and declaims. It might be early spring, based on the men’s overcoats and the women’s colorful ensembles. Like the characters in it, the occasion feels lively and familiar.

Helen Farr Sloan’s Gallery Scene entered the DelArt collection in 2014, when the William Glackens retrospective was on view at the Barnes Foundation. I had written for the catalogue and was teaching and giving lectures related to the show, so I must have seen the exhibition ten times. After one of those visits, I walked by Gallery Scene and recognized the painting within this painting. The large canvas on the rear wall is Glackens’ Family Group, a 1910/11 painting in the collection of the National Gallery of Art. With a little research, I was able to determine that Family Group was exhibited twice at the Whitney Museum of American Art around the time that Helen Farr Sloan painted Gallery Scene. In February and March, 1937, Family Group was in New York Realists, 1910–1914, a key exhibition for reviving interest in the early work of the Ashcan School, and in 1938–39, the painting was included in Glackens’ memorial exhibition. Helen Farr Sloan, who had studied with and befriended Glackens’ associate John Sloan in the 1920s, would almost certainly have visited these shows. In the late 1930s, she was living in New York and working with Sloan (they would marry in 1944) on Gist of Art, a book of his teachings.

Of course, this isn’t a documentary photograph, and the paintings on either side of Family Group aren’t easy to discern, so I can’t say for sure which exhibition this might be recording. Avis Berman, Glackens expert and author of Rebels on Eighth Street: Juliana Force and the Whitney Museum of American Art, suggested that, while the scale of the room makes sense for the Whitney Museum when it was on Eighth Street, Farr Sloan probably took some artistic license in the décor. (Personally, I hope the walls weren’t that shade of green!)

I love that the one painting we can recognize is called Family Group, a title that perfectly fits the mood of this gathering of friends and art lovers. I look forward to seeing this work hanging in Collecting and Connecting: Recent Acquisitions, 2010–2020.

Heather Campbell Coyle
Chief Curator and Curator of American Art

Image: Gallery Scene, c. 1938. Helen Farr Sloan (1911-2005). Oil on board, 22 × 24 inches. Delaware Art Museum, Bequest of Helen Farr Sloan, 2014. © Delaware Art Museum / Artists Rights Society (ARS), New York.

Longtime DelArt Leader Poised to Steer Museum into its Next Chapter

The Delaware Art Museum’s Board of Trustees announced today that Molly Giordano will serve as its next Executive Director.

Giordano, with her 10-year tenure at DelArt, steps into the directorship as the Museum rebuilds from the impact of COVID-19. In addition to rebuilding visitation and in-person programming, Giordano will oversee a major gallery reinstallation, capital improvements to strengthen the core facility, and numerous upcoming exhibitions, including one celebrating African American art.

“Molly demonstrated great leadership in a very challenging period while our Interim Executive Director over the past 13 months,” said David Pollack, President of the Board of Trustees. “The Board has full confidence in her as DelArt returns to fully serving its community. Molly’s deep relationships within the greater Wilmington community, and years of service to that community, position the Museum to realize its vision of becoming an essential resource for its city and region.”

Giordano joined the Museum in 2010 to ramp up DelArt’s centennial celebration. Soon after, she led the “Art is Everywhere” campaign, bringing reproductions of masterworks from the collection to cities throughout Delaware. Her work in successive leadership roles at the Museum contributed to the completion of an institutional rebranding, diversification of audiences, and increased fundraising. In 2017, she led the Museum’s strategic planning process, helping DelArt create a vision to become a more inclusive, vital resource for its community.

“I’m honored to lead the Museum into its next chapter,” remarked Giordano. “I consider art to be a public service, and it has been my great pleasure to help deliver that service to Delawareans – especially this year, when creativity, inspiration, and human connection are so needed.”

In addition to her work at the Museum, Giordano serves as Vice President of the Delaware Arts Alliance and Chair of the Governance Committee of the Delaware Fund for Women. She holds a bachelor’s degree in Political Science and Journalism from the University of Delaware; a master’s degree in Public Administration from the University of Pennsylvania; and will complete her master’s degree in Creative Writing from Rosemont College this spring. Giordano writes fiction and lives in Wilmington with her husband, attorney Phillip Giordano, and their two young children.

Sponsors: The Delaware Art Museum is supported, in part, by a grant from the Delaware Division of the Arts, a state agency, in partnership with the National Endowment for the Arts. The Division promotes Delaware arts events on www.DelawareScene.com.

About the Delaware Art Museum

For over 100 years, the Museum has served as a primary arts and cultural institution in Delaware. It is alive with experiences, discoveries, and activities to connect people with art and with each other. Originally created in 1912 to honor the renowned illustrator and Wilmington-native, Howard Pyle, the Museum’s collection has grown to over 12,000 works of art in our building and sculpture garden. Also recognized for British Pre-Raphaelite art, the Museum is home to the most comprehensive Pre-Raphaelite collection on display outside of the United Kingdom, and a growing collection of significant contemporary art.

Under the leadership of our Board of Trustees, the Delaware Art Museum is implementing a comprehensive approach to community and civic engagement. This exciting new strategic direction requires that we increase our value and relevance to all audiences. Visit delart.org to for the latest exhibitions, programs, and performances or connect with us via social media.

Delawareans helped shape what the reinstalled galleries will look like when they reopen in June, July, and August.

After asking over 100 Delawareans what they think about their museum, the Delaware Art Museum is reimagining its eight main floor art galleries. The existing galleries of American art and illustration and the Bancroft Collection of Pre-Raphaelite Art will close this spring. When they reopen in summer 2021, the art will tell new stories shaped by community members’ feedback.

“There are new works to show and new stories to tell,” says Chief Curator Heather Campbell Coyle. “Entire collections are being relocated to improve visitor experience, and artworks have been conserved for future generations.”

This will be the first comprehensive Museum rehanging since 2005. Since then, thanks to new research and audience input, the collections have grown to include significant pieces by women and Black artists that tell a more inclusive story of the visual arts. Newly acquired works include a bust of Frederick Douglass by Isaac Scott Hathaway, paintings by 19th century African American artists Robert Duncanson and Edward Mitchell Bannister, and Botticelli’s Studio, a painting by Eleanor Fortescue Brickdale on long-term loan to the Museum. The reinstallation will also bring focus to the role of local artists and collectors in the history of art.

The series of gallery reopenings kicked off this past fall, when art by John Sloan was rehung on the main floor of the Museum. That gallery now tells the story of Sloan’s life as a working artist and displays the work of the rebellious painter friends known as The Eight. Visitors are also engaged with considering the role of artists as activists in society.

Throughout the planning process, staff reached out to community members for help designing a better Delaware Art Museum. “Thank you to all the visitors who participated in focus groups and gave us feedback,” says Amelia Wiggins, Assistant Director of Learning and Engagement. “You helped us create bridges between the collections and the everyday lives of Delawareans. We look forward to seeing what fresh connections visitors make with art as galleries reopen later this year.”

The Museum will remain open during these changes, with galleries closing and reopening on a rolling basis from March into September. Visit delart.org for details and updates.

Full Schedule of Closures and Reopenings:

  • On view now: New Gallery of John Sloan and the Eight
  • March 22–Sept. 8: Howard Pyle and American Illustration Closed
  • March 22 – May 23: American Art 1757–1900 Limited selection on view
  • May 26 – June 16: American Art 1757–1900 Closed
  • June 21 – July 21: British Pre-Raphaelites Closed
  • Saturday, June 19: Picturing America (American Art through 1900) Opens
  • Saturday, July 31: Radical Beauty (British Pre-Raphaelites) Opens
  • Saturday, September 11: Howard Pyle and American Illustration Opens; main floor galleries are fully reopened.

Sponsors: The Museum’s reinstallation is made possible by the generosity of Sewell C. Biggs and foundations including the Choptank Foundation, the Starrett Foundation, the Richard C. Von Hess Foundation, and the Sansom Foundation. This organization is supported, in part, by a grant from the Delaware Division of the Arts, a state agency, in partnership with the National Endowment for the Arts. The Division promotes Delaware arts events on www.DelawareScene.com.

Press Contact: Amelia Wiggins, Assistant Director of Learning & Engagement, awiggins@delart.org

About the Delaware Art Museum

For over 100 years, the Museum has served as a primary arts and cultural institution in Delaware. It is alive with experiences, discoveries, and activities to connect people with art and with each other. Originally created in 1912 to honor the renowned illustrator and Wilmington-native, Howard Pyle, the Museum’s collection has grown to over 12,000 works of art in our building and sculpture garden. Also recognized for British Pre-Raphaelite art, the Museum is home to the largest and most important Pre-Raphaelite collection outside of the United Kingdom and a growing collection of significant contemporary art. Embracing all disciplines, the Museum’s Performance Series ranges from concerts by Pyxis Piano Quartet, resident ensemble of over ten years, to cutting-edge, multi-disciplinary artists committed to social justice and pushing the boundaries of artistic practice.

Under the leadership of our Board of Trustees, the Delaware Art Museum is implementing a comprehensive approach to community and civic engagement. This exciting new strategic direction requires that we increase our value and relevance to all audiences. Visit delart.org to for the latest exhibitions, programs, and performances or connect with us via social media.

Image: Old Brittany Farm Houses, 1902. Robert Henri (1865–1929). Oil on canvas, 25 1/2 x 32 1/16 inches, frame: 33 x 39 1/2 inches. Delaware Art Museum, Gift of Mrs. Janet J. Le Clair, 1986. Installation image of the the Sue Ann and John L. Weinberg Gallery, “John Sloan and The Eight.” 2021, Photograph by Carson Zullinger. © Delaware Art Museum.

Hanlin Chinese Culture Association and Chinese American Community Center Share Cultural Traditions

The Delaware Art Museum once again partners with the Hanlin Chinese Culture Association and Chinese American Community Center for Chinese New Year – this year, celebrating the Year of the Ox. Beginning Saturday, February 20 and available through February 28, 2021, the public can celebrate the new beginnings of a lunar new year with free videos and art activities.

This virtual program will kick off with footage from lion and folk dance performances, Chinese yo-yo demonstrations, and art activities. A new addition to the celebration for 2021 is dumpling making, which includes an ingredient list and instructions shared in advance and an online cooking demonstration.

Families are encouraged to register online for free art activity supplies, which may be picked up at the Front Desk from February 13 through 21 during regular admission hours. The first 30 families that register will receive a lantern kit (limit one lantern per family). One registrant will be selected at random to receive a print to commemorate the Year of the Ox.

A link to the YouTube playlist of performances and demonstrations will be shared at delart.org on February 20. Families can view the recorded program at their convenience through February 28. This is the fifteenth year the Museum has partnered with community organizations to share Chinese traditions and art.

Taini Hsu, Founder and President of Hanlin Chinese Cultural Association, said, “The connection with the Museum started when I was a docent in 1997. We wanted to bring the Chinese and Asian Americans living in the community to the Museum to explore the art, and at the same time, enable the Museum’s American audience to appreciate our Chinese culture.”

Hsu added, “The lion and folk dances are performed by the young kids in programs at the Chinese American Community Center, but other performances have included visiting artists. I’m originally from Taiwan, and the reason we are able to bring artists in most years is thanks to the Culture Center of Taipei Economic and Cultural Representative Office in the U.S. They sponsor the event and every year they give away the lantern kits.”

The mission of the Hanlin Chinese Culture Association is to promote Chinese art and culture to the public. The Chinese American Community Center promotes the exchange and integration of Chinese and American cultures by coordinating activities and events throughout the year and by providing a location for various community organizations and clubs to meet.

Partnering with community organizations on Chinese New Year speaks to the Museum’s mission “to connect people to art, offering an inclusive and essential community resource that through its collections, exhibitions, and programs, generates creative energy that sustains, enriches, empowers, and inspires.”

This program is in partnership with Hanlin Chinese Culture Association. Lanterns provided by Culture Center of Taipei Economic and Cultural Representative Office in the U.S.

Media contact: Amelia Wiggins, Assistant Director of Learning and Engagement, awiggins@delart.org.

About the Delaware Art Museum

For over 100 years, the Museum has served as a primary arts and cultural institution in Delaware. It is alive with experiences, discoveries, and activities to connect people with art and with each other. Originally created in 1912 to honor the renowned illustrator and Wilmington native, Howard Pyle, the Museum’s collection has grown to over 12,000 works of art in our building and sculpture garden. Also recognized for British Pre-Raphaelite art, the Museum is home to the most comprehensive collection of Pre-Raphaelite art on display outside of the United Kingdom and a growing collection of significant contemporary art.

Under the leadership of our Board of Trustees, the Delaware Art Museum is implementing a comprehensive approach to community and civic engagement. This exciting new strategic direction requires that we increase our value and relevance to all audiences. Visit delart.org for the latest exhibitions, programs, and performances or connect with us via social media.

Delaware Art Museum announces virtual dance residency inspired by Cortor’s artwork.

On Thursday, February 18, at Noon, Dara Meredith’s virtual dance residency at the Delaware Art Museum will kick off with an Art Chat exploring the painting that inspires her, Southern Souvenir No. II by African American modern artist Eldzier Cortor. Scholar Dr. Tiffany Barber, assistant professor in Africana Studies and Art History at the University of Delaware, and Dara Meredith, artistic director at Eleone Dance Theatre and adjunct professor at Temple University, will explore the images of Black femininity in Cortor’s art and discuss his legacy and influence. Meredith’s residency at the Museum will include a series of talks and workshops and culminate in a dance she will choreograph later this year.

“The work will delve into the idea that Black bodies, and Black women specifically, have been ostracized, dismantled, separated, and abused; all the while being the backbone and the foundation of continuity for American culture,” said Meredith, describing the dance she will choreograph at the Museum. “The work showcases the complexity of what Black women in the south have experienced while having to hold the nation on its breast so that it may live and live on.”

The Art Chat and Meredith’s virtual dance residency will center on Cortor’s artwork, on loan from the Art Bridges Foundation through July 2021 and on display at the Delaware Art Museum.

Modern painter Eldzier Cortor was born in Virginia in 1916, but at just one year old his family moved north to Chicago, along with millions of other African American families during the Great Migration. Cortor later attended the Art Institute of Chicago and gained international recognition for his paintings of Black women.

“The Black Woman represents the Black Race,” Cortor said. “She is the Black Spirit; she conveys a feeling of eternity, and the continuum of life.”

The Art Chat virtual event is free to members and $7 to non-members by registration at delart.org.

Sponsors: Support provided by Art Bridges. This program is supported, in part, by a grant from the Delaware Division of the Arts, a state agency, in partnership with the National Endowment for the Arts. The Division promotes Delaware arts events on www.DelawareScene.com.

About the Delaware Art Museum

For over 100 years, the Museum has served as a primary arts and cultural institution in Delaware. It is alive with experiences, discoveries, and activities to connect people with art and with each other. Originally created in 1912 to honor the renowned illustrator and Wilmington-native, Howard Pyle, the Museum’s collection has grown to over 12,000 works of art in our building and sculpture garden. Also recognized for British Pre-Raphaelite art, the Museum is home to the most comprehensive Pre-Raphaelite collection on display outside of the United Kingdom, and a growing collection of significant contemporary art.

Under the leadership of our Board of Trustees, the Delaware Art Museum is implementing a comprehensive approach to community and civic engagement. This exciting new strategic direction requires that we increase our value and relevance to all audiences. Visit delart.org to for the latest exhibitions, programs, and performances or connect with us via social media.

Southern Souvenir No. II presents an unsettling dreamscape: beneath a dark moon that emanates a halo of greyish light, nude female torsos are strewn among gnarled branches and remnants of domestic life. The painting, by African American artist Eldzier Cortor, evokes scenes of racist violence, the dilapidation of poverty, and the destruction of a natural disaster. The artist’s vision is manifested through meticulous rendering: tiny brushstrokes define shining flesh and worn brick, newspaper mastheads from Birmingham and Charleston are legible, and black tree bark is painted three dimensionally, jutting out nearly half an inch from the picture’s surface. The reality and psychological toll of racial violence is clear, though the artist hasn’t attempted to compose a scene or tell a specific story.

On loan from the Art Bridges collection, Southern Souvenir No. II is on view in Gallery 15, a gallery devoted to the range of realisms practiced by American artists between the 1920s and the 1960s. The heirs of the Ashcan School’s urban realism—Reginald Marsh, Isabel Bishop—hang across from detailed, regionalist paintings by the Wyeth family. Recent acquisitions by Edward Loper, Malvin Gray Johnson, and Robert Neal mark the significant contributions of African American artists in the early 20th century. And psychological tension builds in works by Edward Hopper, Andrew Wyeth, and Hughie Lee-Smith.

Cortor’s approach to realism is different. His meticulous handling and dreamlike juxtaposition of elements align the painting to surrealism and magic realism—artistic movements often associated more with European and Latin American art of this period. This is not to say that these movements didn’t have traction in the United States. In 1943, the Museum of Modern Art opened an exhibition called American Realists and Magic Realists, which featured works by Andrew Wyeth and Edward Hopper among others. In the introduction to that catalogue, Lincoln Kirstein explained the operation of magic realism: “Magic realists try to convince us that extraordinary things are possible simply by painting them as if they existed.” This tradition is not well represented in the Museum’s collection, which is one of the reasons I was excited to borrow Southern Souvenir No. II from Art Bridges.

The other reason, of course, is the consideration of race and American history that Cortor’s painting prompts. Incredibly detailed and gorgeously painted, Southern Souvenir No. II forces us to consider what Cortor experienced on his travels through the American South in the 1940s.

This haunting painting is on view at the Delaware Art Museum through July 2021, and I find myself visiting it often. I’m looking forward to learning more about Southern Souvenir No. II when I host an Art Chat with Tiffany Barber and Dara Stevens Meredith on February 18, 2021. I hope you will join me to learn more about Cortor, modern painting, and American history.

Heather Campbell Coyle
Curator of American Art

Above: Eldzier Cortor. Southern Souvenir No. II, c. 1948. Oil on board mounted on Masonite ™ on wood strainer, 35 1/2 x 64 1/2 inches. Art Bridges. © Estate of Eldzier Cortor / Artist Rights Society (ARS), New York.

Collecting and Connecting: Recent Acquisitions, 2010-2020 will be on display March 13 – September 12.

Curious about the 1,000+ objects the Delaware Art Museum has acquired in the past decade? A selection of these artworks will be showcased in the exhibition Collecting and Connecting: Recent Acquisitions, 2010-2020, on view March 13 – September 12.

The Museum’s recent acquisitions span centuries, styles, cultures, and mediums, and now call the Delaware Art Museum home. Through this exhibition, visitors are invited to sample the last ten years’ additions to the collection and gain a behind-the-scenes look at how and why the museum collects. Collecting and Connecting encourages visitors to draw connections between diverse works of art from across collections and time periods.

“Adding to collections allows the Museum to continue to tell engaging, complex stories – many that have been historically marginalized – through the works of art in the galleries. By collecting, we write and preserve history through artwork so that future generations will be able re-examine and re-contextualize it as well,” writes the exhibition’s curator, Margaretta Frederick.

For each of its five main collections (American Illustration, British Pre-Raphaelites, American Art to 1960, Contemporary Art, and the Helen Farr Sloan Library and Archives), potential acquisitions are considered based on many factors, including the work’s relationship to existing art in the collection and its ability to expand the scope of Museum holdings and tell missing or overlooked stories. When a new object is added, it recontextualizes the existing collection and opens up new interpretations and ideas.

“It has been a fascinating exercise to look across the museum’s recent acquisitions and see how much a work from 1857 and one from 2005 can tell the same story,” says Caroline Giddis, 2020 Delaware Art Museum Appel Curatorial Fellow. Giddis and Frederick co-curated the exhibition to spur visitors to make creative comparisons between artworks. “What happens when you place two unrelated works of art from different continents, centuries, movements, and artistic backgrounds next to one another on a gallery wall? Something magical.”

Collecting and Connecting: Recent Acquisitions, 2010-2020 will run from March 13 to September 12, 2021, in the Anthony N. and Catherine A. Fusco Gallery, with additional recent acquisitions installed and highlighted throughout the Museum and Copeland Sculpture Garden.

Acknowledgement of Support

This exhibition was organized by the Delaware Art Museum and is made possible by the Hallie Tybout Exhibit Fund. This organization is supported is supported, in part, by a grant from the Delaware Division of the Arts, a state agency, in partnership with the National Endowment for the Arts. The Division promotes Delaware arts events on www.DelawareScene.com.

Please contact Amelia Wiggins, Assistant Director of Learning and Engagement, at awiggins@delart.org or 302-351-8503.

About the Delaware Art Museum

For over 100 years, the Museum has served as a primary arts and cultural institution in Delaware. It is alive with experiences, discoveries, and activities to connect people with art and with each other. Originally created in 1912 to honor the renowned illustrator and Wilmington native, Howard Pyle, the Museum’s collection has grown to over 12,000 works of art in our building and sculpture garden. Also recognized for British Pre-Raphaelite art, the Museum is home to the most comprehensive collection of Pre-Raphaelite art on display outside of the United Kingdom and a growing collection of significant contemporary art.

Under the leadership of our Board of Trustees, the Delaware Art Museum is implementing a comprehensive approach to community and civic engagement. This exciting new strategic direction requires that we increase our value and relevance to all audiences. Visit delart.org for the latest exhibitions, programs, and performances or connect with us via social media.

Image: Dream, 2010. Gretchen Moyer (1956–2015). Pastel and acrylic on paper, 22 × 29 inches. Delaware Art Museum, Gift of David Moyer, 2016. © Estate of the artist.

A few years ago, Mary Holahan, Curator of Illustration Art, drew attention to this painting with a timely and well-researched blog post. She elucidated the moment Hoskins depicted, when the “19-year-old stenographer shrinks from her sinister boss’s demand that she succumb to his advances.” Her post describes the plot and reception of Dejeans’ novel about sexual abuse in the workplace. And the gallery label Mary wrote for the work highlighted the tiger-skin rug with the animal’s bared fangs, which echoes the character of the brutish, predatory employer.

When we began testing ideas with focus groups for the reinstallation of the illustration collection, this painting and Mary’s analysis of it engaged our visitors, who linked it to the #metoo movement. They wanted to know even more, asking in particular about the statuette on the mantelpiece behind the young woman. Taking over responsibility for the illustration collection after Mary’s retirement, I wanted to know more, too, so I started looking closely.

Facing each other at last, the girl white, shaking, her eyes aflame by Gayle Porter HoskinsFacing each other at last, the girl white, shaking, her eyes aflame (detail), 1909.

The painting is dark and the details of the statuette are difficult to make out, but it’s carefully delineated and beautifully composed. I thought it likely that the painted sculpture was a miniature version of a real sculpture. Like the rug, I hoped it would add to the illustration’s power.

Like many works of art that will be featured in the reinstalled galleries, this Hoskins painting was slotted for conservation. When it went to our conservator, Mark Bockrath, I asked him to let me know if he could see more as he examined and cleaned it under bright light. In a series of emails this summer, we exchanged photographs of the painting and scans of the published version and talked about what that statuette might depict. With one figure held and draped across another, at first glance (from an art history major) the sculpture looks like a Pietà or lamentation of Jesus, but that doesn’t add anything to the story. I thought it might be the abduction of Persephone by Hades, but I couldn’t find an example of that mythological theme resembling this composition.

And what about that hat on the standing figure? I mused on conquistadors’ helmets, and Mark half-joked that his attire looked more like a fisherman’s gear. After that, I saw echoes of Winslow’s Homer’s heroic lifesaving scenes. So, I started a Google image search using words like fisherman, sculpture, saved, and drowning. Then, I found it really fast. The statuette seems to be a small version of Saved, an 1887 sculpture by Adolf Brütt. The modern, heroic subject, which the artist claimed to have witnessed, resonates thematically with Winslow Homer’s 1884 masterpiece The Life Line, as does and the combination of strong man and supine, drenched woman.

Image of SavedSaved, 1887. Adolf Brütt.

A large bronze cast of Saved (familiarly called The Fisherman)—Gerettet (Der Fischer) in German—stands outside the Alte Nationalgalerie in Berlin today. It was famous in its day, winning Brütt a prize and being selected for the 1893 World’s Columbian Exposition in Chicago and the 1904 Louisiana Purchase Exposition in St. Louis. Living in Chicago in 1904, the 17-year-old Hoskins might have traveled to the world’s fair in St. Louis—over 19 million people did—but there was a lot to see there. Hoskins probably encountered a tabletop version similar to the one he placed on the mantel. Like many popular sculptures, Saved was reproduced at a domestic scale. A 17-inch version sold at auction for €2,000 in 2018, and vintage postcards featuring the sculpture still can be bought online.

Now that we have identified Saved, how might it help us understand the painting? I think the bronze, which is displayed in the predatory boss’s office, speaks to that character’s understanding of himself. The author of the novel makes it clear that the man thinks that what he’s doing helps the young woman. He sees himself as a savior, lifting her and her family out of poverty.

Hoskins’ choice of sculpture is pointed, though more subtle than the tiger-skin rug. Neither is mentioned in the story, and I don’t think these are purely decorative choices. The inclusion of the Brütt is more like an art-historical Easter egg—something that adds to the story for the viewers that recognize it. I imagine more viewers recognized Saved in 1909, and I hope they appreciated Hoskins’ evocative details as much as I do now!

Heather Campbell Coyle
Chief Curator and Curator of American Art

Top image: Facing each other at last, the girl white, shaking, her eyes aflame, 1909. Cover and frontispiece for The Winning Chance by Elizabeth Dejeans (Philadelphia: J.B. Lippincott Co., 1909). Gayle Porter Hoskins (1887–1962). Oil on canvas, 36 x 24 1/2 inches. Delaware Art Museum, Acquired by exchange, 1971.

Community Cleanups and a Parade Encourage the Public to Serve 

The Delaware Art Museum once again partners with the Wilmington community for Martin Luther King Jr. Day of Service. Monday, January 18, 2021 honors the Rev. Dr. Martin Luther King Jr. with a national day of service that celebrates the civil rights leader’s life and legacy, and the Museum invites the community to volunteer for One Village Alliance and West Side Grows outdoor cleanups in the morning and early afternoon, via pre-registration, and to participate in the Peace March beginning at 2 p.m.

One Village Alliance, whose mission is to grow historically marginalized youth into their true greatness through education, economic development, and the arts, is a frequent partner of the Museum. The Alliance has moved into a new Freedom Center at 31st and Market Streets and has asked the community to help make the new space beautiful on this annual day of service. Individuals, pods, or household groups will work outside, socially distanced, to paint walls, maintain landscaping, create chalk messages of peace, and help with exterior cleanup. 

Participants are asked to pre-register for a timeslot between 9 a.m. and 1 p.m. The outdoor event at 31 West 31st Street requires participants to wear a mask. In lieu of or in addition to volunteering, donations are also encouraged. During the cleanup, vocal artists will perform, starting at 11 a.m.

Museum Audience Engagement Specialist Iz Balleto, who helped organize the partnership with One Village Alliance, said, “It is important the Delaware Art Museum backs up the community, especially on MLK Day. It is a day of activism, and one in which we take a moment to listen to the people on the ground. What better way to begin to heal than to work together, physically restoring our own community?”

West Side Grows Together is a coalition of residents, businesses, churches, and local leadership from the Cool Spring, Hilltop, Little Italy and The Flats neighborhoods. During an annual Community Clean Up and Peace March, participants will clean and beautify the exterior of the Teen Warehouse, 1121 Thatcher Street, as well as Be Ready CDC, 1411 W. 4th Street, and Helen Chambers Playground, 600 North Madison Street. Volunteers will clean the Peace March route, which runs along 4th Street, under I-95, and near the Adams Four Shopping Center.

Cleanup of the Teen Warehouse will begin at 10 a.m., the Be Ready CDC and Helen Chambers Playground begins at 11 a.m. The Peace March will begin at 2 p.m. at the Hicks Anderson Center, 501 North Madison Street. Parking is available onsite.

Pre-registration is required for the cleanups, but not the march. Face masks are required for any in-person events.

Balleto added, “Through the partnerships we have built over the years with One Village Alliance and West Side Grows, it’s only right to extend our hand and to foster those who have made the sacrifice to assist others through community service…and applying artivism at the same time,” referencing the term for activism through art.

The Museum recommends other ways to serve for those who cannot volunteer: donating school supplies or purchasing a Museum Art Kit for a family. The public is welcome to drop off new or like-new supplies at the Delaware Art Museum before January 18, during open hours, for One Village Alliance to distribute to students in need. A $20 donation provides an art kit, full of fun art supplies and a project inspired by the Museum’s collection, to a family in need.

Partnering with community organizations on Martin Luther King, Jr. Day speaks to the Museum’s mission “to connect people to art, offering an inclusive and essential community resource that through its collections, exhibitions, and programs, generates creative energy that sustains, enriches, empowers, and inspires,” and its vision, which includes strengthened connections to the community.

This event is a partnership with One Village Alliance, Guerrilla Republik, Center for Interventional Pain & Spine, and 302 Guns Down. This organization is supported, in part, by a grant from the Delaware Division of the Arts, a state agency, in partnership with the National Endowment for the Arts. The Division promotes Delaware arts events on www.DelawareScene.com.

Please contact Amelia Wiggins, Assistant Director of Learning and Engagement, at awiggins@delart.org or 302-351-8503.

About the Delaware Art Museum

For over 100 years, the Museum has served as a primary arts and cultural institution in Delaware. It is alive with experiences, discoveries, and activities to connect people with art and with each other. Originally created in 1912 to honor the renowned illustrator and Wilmington native, Howard Pyle, the Museum’s collection has grown to over 12,000 works of art in our building and sculpture garden. Also recognized for British Pre-Raphaelite art, the Museum is home to the most comprehensive collection of Pre-Raphaelite art on display outside of the United Kingdom and a growing collection of significant contemporary art.

Under the leadership of our Board of Trustees, the Delaware Art Museum is implementing a comprehensive approach to community and civic engagement. This exciting new strategic direction requires that we increase our value and relevance to all audiences. Visit delart.org for the latest exhibitions, programs, and performances or connect with us via social media.

This November, I had the wonderful opportunity to lead two “Inside Look” gallery talks at the Delaware Art Museum on Loïs Mailou Jones’s 1961 painting Parade de Paysans (Peasants on Parade). The painting is a recent acquisition by the museum and is representative of the institution’s commitment to acquiring works of art by women artists and artists of color. Because the pandemic prevented in-person programming this fall, the discussions took place over Zoom. Although I was initially skeptical about facilitating these talks virtually, I was pleasantly surprised at the nuanced observations and the depth of conversation that developed by closely looking at the painting. As the participants and I studied the work together, we noticed the sense of joy and movement emanating from the scene, which led to questions about Jones herself, her distinctive painting style, and her choice of subject.

Parade de Paysans depicts a Haitian market scene on a bright, sunny day. Over twenty figures populate the scene, coming to and from the market with products to sell. Most of the peasants carry their baskets, crates, and sacs on their heads, revealing an array of goods like lettuce, flowers, and bread. Two structures—likely storehouses—stand near the top of the painting. Also pictured to the right is a covered stand where peasants could set up their displays of goods. The painting probably depicts the market on Saturday, the largest and busiest market day of the week. Peasants would travel long distances from various villages to the nearest town to sell fish, grain, produce, and baked goods. Jones likely witnessed a scene like this in person, having travelled to Haiti regularly since 1954.

Museumgoers were quick to point out the painting’s vibrant colors and geometric style. For instance, they noted that the work could be read as a series of shapes, outlined by bold black lines. The work’s high horizon line and vertical format further flattens and abstracts the painting, tightly framing and pushing the scene towards the picture plane. These compositional choices allowed Jones to effectively capture the hustle and bustle of the market. One participant observed that the way in which Jones placed the figures produced a kind of rhythmic choreography, suggesting movement despite the static nature of the painting. We discussed how the figures functioned to lead the eye through the scene, beginning in the lower left corner and meandering up through the crowded market to the sea above. In general, we noted how the painting’s movement, color, and composition captured the energetic and festive nature of Haiti’s market and its peasants; we felt as if we were immersed in the scene, witnessing and listening to the sounds of the busy market.

In part, Jones’s distinctive style in Parade de Paysans is a testament to her early career as a designer. In 1927, she was the first African American student to graduate from the School of the Museum of Fine Arts, specializing in textile design. Parade de Paysans draws on Jones’s background as a designer through its abstracted shapes, bright colors, and compositional rhythm. One participant additionally identified a relationship between Jones’s style and Cubism, which she would have encountered during a nine-month visit to Paris in 1937.

Having discussed Jones’s training, we shifted to talk about the painting’s subject. After returning from Paris in 1938, Jones was encouraged to reevaluate her subject matter and to find inspiration in her African heritage. Spurred by her marriage to Haitian graphic designer Louis Pierre-Noel, Jones’s travels to Haiti played a transformative role in this decision. For Jones, Haiti served as a bridge to Africa. While there, she began painting works that more closely focused on the Black experience, drawing upon African themes, subjects, and objects. She explained that visiting the Caribbean island completely altered her style, shifting her palette to brighter and lighter colors in an attempt to capture the tropicality of the landscape and the spirit of the people. Parade de Paysans is a perfect representation of this shift.

The more we examined the painting, it became clear that Parade de Paysans was a celebration of Haiti, its people, and Jones herself. We also wondered if the work spoke more personally to the racial and gender biases she faced throughout her career. While Jones depicted a variety of peasants in Parade de Paysans, the majority of the figures are women. Perhaps Jones connected more closely with the women peasants, similarly selling her own “goods” (paintings) to make a living. Indeed, she was the breadwinner of her family, paying off Pierre-Noel’s debts and making a steady income. Jones was a true trailblazer, exhibiting her work, receiving awards, teaching, and making a name for herself as an artist despite the constant challenges she encountered as an African American woman. As we took the time to carefully look at the painting, we began to uncover the vibrancy of Jones as an artist and human.

Kristen Nassif
Ph.D. Candidate, Art History, University of Delaware

Image: Parade de Paysans (Peasants on Parade), 1961. Loïs Mailou Jones. Oil on canvas, 39 1/4 x 19 inches. Delaware Art Museum. Acquisition Fund, 2018. © Estate of Loïs Mailou Jones.

Every so often I stumble across a book in our library collection that is so beautiful it inspires me to try to find every other book by that designer that I can get my hands on. Burma, by Robert Talbot Kelly (1905), is one such book. The regal Art Nouveau peacocks with their swirling tail feathers had me entranced, and I immediately searched the cover for any sign of the binding designer’s signature. After carefully scanning every inch of the cover I finally found it: there, at the bottom of the spine and nearly impossible to see, was the distinctive scarab-like signature of artist Albert Angus Turbayne. Once I spotted it, I was hooked.

image

Turbayne’s distinctive scarab monogram.

It turns out we already had a few other books in the collection designed by Turbayne, I just didn’t know it. He didn’t always sign his designs, which makes identifying them difficult and, despite being one of the most distinguished binding designers of the late-nineteenth century (an art director asserted that “the designs of A. A. Turbayne come nearest to perfection”), little is known about him today. Born in Boston in 1866, he moved to Canada in 1881, then to England in 1890, where he would spend the rest of his life. In 1898 he was appointed as a teacher of graphic design at the London County Council School of Photoengraving and Lithography, a position he held until 1920. During this time he also helped set up the Carlton Studio, which became one of the largest commercial art studios of its time in London, where he specialized in decorative lettering, initials, and motifs.

Turbayne began his career as a book designer in the late-1880s, a time when trained, professional artists were just beginning to turn their talents towards book design. The previous decades had witnessed sweeping changes in the publishing industry, inspired by technological advances and a significant growth in literacy. As the century progressed and the middle class grew, more people were reading for pleasure and were able to spend their income on books. Beautiful books became a status symbol for the middle class, and publishers were eager to capitalize on the increasing demand for affordable, attractive books.

In the 1890s Turbayne designed several covers for the “Peacock” edition of illustrated novels published by Macmillan, including those for the novels by Thomas Love Peacock. Here again Turbayne used an elaborate Art Nouveau peacock (a play on the author’s name) that was carried through to the series’ endpapers. With their artistic design, heavy use of gold stamping, and affordable price of 5 shillings (roughly equivalent to £20 today) these books were meant to be seen as well as read.

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Headlong Hall and Nightmare Abbey, by Thomas Love Peacock (London: Macmillan and Company, 1896). Helen Farr Sloan Library & Archives, Delaware Art Museum.

In 1901 British publishing firm A. & C. Black became the first to use the three-color printing process for color illustrations in its 20 shillings (£1) series of “Colour Books.” Black used watercolor artists to create the illustrations, and most of the volumes featured 70 or more color plates. Turbayne and his colleagues at the Carlton Studio were responsible for the majority of the covers as well as the overall design of the entire series. These books sold very well, boosted by their relatively affordable price (roughly equivalent to £78 today), colorful illustrations, and handsome bindings.

image

Birds of Britain, by J. Lewis Bonhote (London: A. & C. Black, 1907) and Egypt, painted and described by R. Talbot Kelly (London: A. & C. Black, 1907). Helen Farr Sloan Library & Archives, Delaware Art Museum.

In all, the Helen Farr Sloan Library & Archives holds 27 books with bindings designed by Albert Angus Turbayne, though I am still adding more to the collection as I find them. A virtual exhibition, “Nearest to Perfection”: The Binding Designs of Albert Angus Turbayne, may be found on the DelArt website: https://delartlibrary.omeka.net/exhibits/show/turbayne/introduction, and several of his books are on view in the cases outside the Library on the lower level of the Museum. And if you’d like to own a Turbayne design of your very own, the DelArt Store is selling journals featuring the covers of Headlong Hall and Birds of Britain.

Rachael DiEleuterio
Librarian/Archivist

Top image: Burma, painted and described by Robert Talbot Kelly (London: A. & C. Black, 1912). Helen Farr Sloan Library & Archives, Delaware Art Museum.

Changes for 2020 Include Outdoor Setting, Masks, and Added Food and Beverage Options

Reenergizing a beloved annual event, the Delaware Art Museum will continue its tradition of a Winter Festival, this year situating it al fresco. DelArt invites the community to celebrate the season during a family-friendly market and entertainment event on the Museum grounds on Saturday, December 12 from 10 am to 4 pm.

The event is free for Members and $5 for nonmembers. To comply with social distancing guidelines, capacity is limited; therefore, reserved and timed tickets are required. Guests will be asked to wear masks unless seated and eating or drinking. A ticket also entitles the bearer to Museum admission that day.

Guests can shop from regional artisans and local fine food and beverage purveyors, and listen to festive music performed by traveling carolers. In addition to the unique, high-quality wares DelArt has always presented, guests can shop for consumable fine foods and local beverages. Vendor registration is not yet complete, but vendors to date include:

Anna Biggs Designs – Handcarved Gold and Silver Jewelry
Angela Colasanti of VIELA Jewelry – Jewelry, Keepsakes, and Greetings
Flowers by Yukie – Wreaths, Boxwood Trees, Holiday Plants, and Ornaments
SunSobo LLC – All Natural Hibiscus and Ginger Tea
John A. Styer – Turned Wood
Works of Art – Custom Pens and Fishing Rods
Sassy Bee Honey – Raw & Infused Honey, Natural Bath, Body & Beard Products, Beeswax Candles & More
Hope’s Caramels – Soft, Artsian Caramels and other Caramel Products
Crooked Hammock Brewery – Beer Samples and Takeaways
Fusions Taster’s Choice – Olive Oils, Vinegars, and Olives
Paper Greenhouse – Paper Botanicals
The Fairy Potter – Hand Built White Clay/Porcelain Fairy Cottages
Meaghan Paige – Original Handmade Designs and Accessories
Classic Elegance – Quality Leather Goods and Seating
Heather Ossandon, HEOS Ceramics – Ceramics
Wilmington Brew Works – Locally Crafted Beer
Visuelleculture – Knitwear

Director of Operations Heather Morrissey said, “This event has evolved from prior years to accommodate COVID safety guidelines. The biggest change is moving it outdoors, an idea we’ve toyed with for the past few years, and which has become a necessity. We are aiming for a more ‘vintage holiday market’ feel than just pop-up shopping.”

There will be outdoor heaters, but guests are also welcome to enter the Museum to warm up and visit the galleries and Museum Store for more unique gifts.

Should weather interfere with the event, Sunday, December 13 has been selected as the makeup date. DelArt’s weekend hours are 10 am to 4 pm. For more information, visit delart.org.

Sponsors

Event sponsorship provided by Shoprite Supermarkets. This organization is supported, in part, by a grant from the Delaware Division of the Arts, a state agency, in partnership with the National Endowment for the Arts. The Division promotes Delaware arts events on www.DelawareScene.com.

Press Contact



Please contact Cynthia Smith, Marketing Manager, at csmith@delart.org or 302-351-8514.

About the Delaware Art Museum



For over 100 years, the Museum has served as a primary arts and cultural institution in Delaware. It is alive with experiences, discoveries, and activities to connect people with art and with each other. Originally created in 1912 to honor the renowned illustrator and Wilmington native, Howard Pyle, the Museum’s collection has grown to over 12,000 works of art in our building and sculpture garden. Also recognized for British Pre-Raphaelite art, the Museum is home to the most comprehensive collection of Pre-Raphaelite art on display outside of the United Kingdom and a growing collection of significant contemporary art.

Under the leadership of our Board of Trustees, the Delaware Art Museum is implementing a comprehensive approach to community and civic engagement. This exciting new strategic direction requires that we increase our value and relevance to all audiences. Visit delart.org for the latest exhibitions, programs, and performances or connect with us via social media.

Photographs of Local Heroes on View Starting November 11

The Delaware Art Museum will present a celebration of essential workers throughout Wilmington with a photography exhibition launching on November 11, 2020, in the Museum’s Orientation Hallway.

COVID-19 and the response to stop the spread of the virus reminded nearly the whole world just how much it relies on essential workers. The initial focus was on thanking first responders such as doctors, nurses, and emergency personnel. But it quickly became evident that so many other kinds of workers—bus drivers, grocery cashiers, farmers, dry cleaners, and more—are essential to supporting our communities.

This photography project, Essential Workers Photography Campaign, created by Operation Technician Iz Balleto and Teaching Artist and Curator in Residence JaQuanne LeRoy, shows the faces and voices of the many people who have kept our Wilmington community going since the start of the current health crisis. It will combine portraits with personal stories of working on the front lines, exploring what essential work entails and honoring those individuals who continue to dedicate their lives to their work every day.

Balleto, who lost a cousin to COVID-19, was inspired by his own experience as an essential worker at the Delaware Art Museum to create the campaign. Even a closed museum has critical operational needs.

“I was looking at empty walls in the Museum. I was essential, and still report every day. Apart from that, I thought about everybody else who was going to work. Not everyone had the opportunity to work from home: we had to get up no matter what.”

Balleto added, “What’s essential to a community is different than the definition of first responders. I wanted to highlight the people out here in Wilmington, the heroes in our community, who are more than just doctors and nurses. There are people who take care of children and the elderly; people who make sure we have food, from the bodega to the grocery to the bakery – they all matter. This is a love and a sacrifice.”

LeRoy was selected to curate the campaign, tapping photographer Luna Visions to shoot the subjects, and creating a questionnaire for the subjects as a way to collect information for the captions. Luna Visions’ work can be found on Instagram under @lunavisions.

LeRoy said, “Corner store bodegas represented an area of essential work that stood out for me. Growing up in Wilmington, the bodega was a staple, meeting your immediate needs without having to go to a grocery store.”

He added, “Understanding most of those are small businesses run by families and the risk they undertook to be open for the community, I thought that was very special and was happy to see as a part of this campaign. Those decisions where you might have to groom someone else to step up and be more involved when elderly people are at risk changes that family dynamic.”

Like Balleto, LeRoy experienced the effects of COVID-19 in his family. His uncle works for the Wilmington Port Authority, where fresh fruits and food supplies come into the community, and upon learning his uncle was in the hospital with the coronavirus, LeRoy’s perspective on who an essential worker was changed.

Molly Giordano, Interim Executive Director, said, “So many people have supported us in 2020, ensuring that our needs are met and our families remain healthy and cared for. We believe art is an essential resource, and by utilizing the arts, we connect and celebrate our community.”

The exhibition is set to open on Veterans Day. The Museum is open every Wednesday through Sunday from 10 a.m. to 4 p.m. with hours extended to 8 p.m. on Thursdays.

Sponsors

Sponsored by M&T Bank. Support provided by Center for Interventional Pain & Spine. In partnership with Guerrilla Republik. This organization is supported, in part, by a grant from the Delaware Division of the Arts, a state agency, in part, by a grant from the Delaware Division of the Arts, a state agency, in partnership with the National Endowment for the Arts. The Division promotes Delaware arts events on www.DelawareScene.com.

Press Contact

Please contact Cynthia Smith, Marketing Manager, at csmith@delart.org or 302-351-8514.

About the Delaware Art Museum

For over 100 years, the Museum has served as a primary arts and cultural institution in Delaware. It is alive with experiences, discoveries, and activities to connect people with art and with each other. Originally created in 1912 to honor the renowned illustrator and Wilmington native, Howard Pyle, the Museum’s collection has grown to over 12,000 works of art in our building and sculpture garden. Also recognized for British Pre-Raphaelite art, the Museum is home to the most comprehensive collection of Pre-Raphaelite art on display outside of the United Kingdom and a growing collection of significant contemporary art.

Under the leadership of our Board of Trustees, the Delaware Art Museum is implementing a comprehensive approach to community and civic engagement. This exciting new strategic direction requires that we increase our value and relevance to all audiences. Visit delart.org for the latest exhibitions, programs, and performances or connect with us via social media.

One of the Delaware Art Museum’s most striking works in the British Pre-Raphaelite galleries was actually designed and produced by Americans: our Tiffany stained-glass Spring and Autumn window set. The Spring and Autumn windows were commissioned by Samuel Bancroft, whose collection forms the core of the Museum’s Pre-Raphaelite holdings. In the early 1890s, Bancroft expanded his home in order to better hold and display his growing collection of Pre-Raphaelite art. The Philadelphia architect Frank Miles Day was employed to design the structure, and a significant portion of the decorative scheme was carried out by the Tiffany Glass and Decorating Company. While Tiffany Studios glasswork has been associated with the vision of Louis Comfort Tiffany, the owner and main artistic designer of the company, the Spring and Autumn windows were actually designed by one of the many women he employed over the course of his career: Lydia Field Emmet (1866-1952).

Behind every great man is a woman, as the saying goes, and behind the success of Tiffany are numerous women whose artistic skills and business acumen helped his company in all its iterations earn great acclaim and popularity. Early in his career, Tiffany launched a business with textile designer Candace Wheeler, before becoming head of design at his father’s firm, Tiffany and Co. The history of women artists at the turn of the 20th century was also connected to the popularity of the Arts and Crafts Movement, with which Tiffany Studios was associated both artistically and politically, and to the American decorative arts industry in the late 19th and early 20th centuries. In turn, women artists entering the workforce and the Arts and Crafts movement were also influenced by developments in organized labor in the United States, meaning these three concepts are all intertwined.

At the company’s height in the late 1890s, Tiffany employed some 40-50 women in a special glass-cutting division. Tiffany’s desire to hire so many women may have been a testament to what one writer called his “progressive spirit.” The popularly-held view that women had a better sense for decoration and took direction better than their male counterparts was also a factor, as were their status as non-unionized workers. The Women’s Glass Cutting Department was established in 1892 and was responsible for the production of some of Tiffany’s most successful and delightful lamps and window patterns. Led by the indomitable Clara Driscoll and her strong sense of design, the department originated the “Dragonfly,” “Wisteria,” and “Butterfly” lampshades, among other notable Tiffany glass products. It’s not known for certain whether Lydia Field Emmet was considered one of Driscoll’s so-called “Tiffany Girls,” but she became known as an artist and art worker in her own right, as well as a part of the Tiffany legacy.

Aside from designing stained glass windows like Spring and Autumn, Emmet exhibited oil paintings, designed wallpaper, illustrated articles for Harper’s Weekly, taught painting at the Shinnecock Summer School of Art, and even created murals for the Chicago World’s Fair in 1893. Many of Tiffany’s female workers, including Emmet, arguably exemplified the promise of the critic and progressive reformer John Ruskin’s conception of the “Unity of Art,” excelling in multiple disciplines and blurring the lines between creating fine art and craft.

During Ruskin’s era, the Industrial Revolution changed the nature of work and employment in major cities, replacing manual labor with rapid machine production of all sorts of goods. In response, the Arts and Crafts movement (led by William Morris in Britain) sought to reinvigorate the role of the artist and artisan in everyday life, and in so doing, improve the conditions of workers and of society as a whole. In the pursuit of pure profit, these theorists argued, creative labor was discouraged and devalued, its dignity lessened; mass-produced objects honored neither the skills of the worker nor the pursuit of beauty.

John Ruskin (who starred in DAM’s Wyeth/Ruskin show a few years ago), “felt that society should work toward promoting the happiness and well-being of every one of its members, by creating a union of art and labour in the service of society.” In other words: instead of working repetitive, menial, even dangerous manufacturing jobs and being paid a pittance for them, workers should be given the opportunity to manufacture items with the full force of their creativity and skill behind them, and should be fairly and justly compensated for doing so. Ruskin’s Unity of Art model disregarded hierarchies among what we consider today “fine art”—painting, sculpture, architecture—and “decorative arts” or “crafts”—embroidery, illustration, glasswork, pottery, textiles, and other media. Artists and artisans were both equal in Ruskin’s mind as creators of beauty and meaning.

The Arts and Crafts movement in Britain and the United States thus combined issues important to artists, craftsmen, and organized labor in opposition to industrial capitalism. Progressives of all social classes therefore had a stake in the game: the Unity of Art espoused respect for labor as significant and creative, and touted art work as a form of labor that should be properly compensated. Women artists and art workers in cities like New York thrived under the Unity of Art ideal, and worked in numerous industries and media, creating everything from magazine illustrations to paintings for exhibition halls.

The “Tiffany Girls,” therefore, represent a partial success of the Unity of Art, and of women’s growing recognition as artists and art workers at the turn of the century. However, while the proliferation of women artists in professional employment represented a victory for these women, it came at a cost for other members of society, and for the labor movement as a whole. Labor unions, responsible for the establishment of such now-commonplace workplace concepts as the weekend and the eight-hour day, did not generally accept women among their ranks. Therefore, women were often hired at firms like Tiffany as strike-breakers, and they were paid less than their unionized male counterparts. So while Tiffany hiring women in his glass department may have been influenced by the changing view of women’s capabilities and value outside the domestic sphere, it also allowed Tiffany to use them as a cudgel against labor unions demanding fairer wages and working hours. (To this day, women are still less likely to be unionized than their male counterparts.)

The Unity of Art ideal allowed Lydia Field Emmet to make a career as an artist and an art worker, but its popularity as a scheme for incorporating art into larger societal ideals did not last. Replaced in esteem by the concept of “Art for Art’s Sake,” which placed a premium on art “[capable] of producing pleasurable impressions in the viewer” (Masten 245), the mindset that had allowed Emmet to both paint murals and design wallpaper fell out of vogue, with commercial arts industries knocked down a peg on the ladder of prestige. Indeed, ideas about how labor should be compensated, how the creation of art should be compensated, and indeed, whether art work is a form of labor, continue to be furiously debated and negotiated to this day.

Deborah Krieger
Curatorial Assistant, 2017–2019
MA in Public Humanities at Brown University, Class of 2021

Sources and further reading:

April F. Masten, Art Work: Women Artists and Democracy in Mid-19th Century New York(Philadelphia: University of Pennsylvania Press, 2008)
Martin Eidelberg, Nina Gray, and Margaret K. Hofer, A New Light on Tiffany: Clara Driscoll and the Tiffany Girls (New-York Historical Society, 2007)
Joseph G. Rayback, A History of American Labor (New York: The Macmillan Company, 1964)
Eileen Boris, Art and Labor: Ruskin, Morris, and the Craftsman Ideal in America (Philadelphia: Temple University Press, 1986)
Philip S. Foner, Women and the American Labor Movement: From Colonial Times to the Eve of World War I (Free Press, 1979)
Meredith Tax, The Rising of Women: Feminist Solidarity and Class Conflict, 1880-1917 (University of Illinois Press, 2001) Mark Bassett, “Breaking Tiffany’s Glass Ceiling: Clara Wolcott Driscoll (1861-1944),” Cleveland Institute of Art news site, January 1, 2012: https://www.cia.edu/news/stories/breaking-tiffanys-glass-ceiling-clara-wolcott-driscoll-1861-1944/
Amelia Peck and Carol Irish, with Elena Phipps, Candace Wheeler: The Art and Enterprise of American Design, 1875–1900 (Metropolitan Museum of Art, 2001). Downloadable here: https://www.metmuseum.org/art/metpublications/Candace_Wheeler_The_Art_and_Enterprise_of_American_Design_1875_1900
Jeffrey Helgeson, “American Labor and Working-Class History, 1900–1945,” Oxford Research Encyclopedias: American History, August 2016: http://americanhistory.oxfordre.com/view/10.1093/acrefore/9780199329175.001.0001/acrefore-9780199329175-e-330?rskey=5l9Ed5&result=2
Alex Hass, “Design History,” in Graphic Design and Print Production Fundamentals, B.C. Communications Open Textbook Collective, 2015: https://opentextbc.ca/graphicdesign/chapter/chapter-2/
“Lydia Field Emmet,” National Gallery of Art, https://www.nga.gov/collection/artist-info.1267.html
“The Simple Truth about the Gender Pay Gap,” American Association of University Women, http://www.morsemuseum.org/louis-comfort-tiffany/tiffany-studios-designers)
“Women in Unions,” Status of Women in the States, https://statusofwomendata.org/women-in-unions/


Image: Spring and Autumn, c. 1892. Lydia Field Emmet (designer, 1866-1952) for Tiffany Studios Leaded glass, 37 × 51 1/2 inches. Delaware Art Museum, Samuel and Mary R. Bancroft Memorial, 1935.

The Delaware Art Museum (DelArt) has received a $20,000 grant from Bank of America to support the arts in our community. This generous contribution will help the Museum connect people with the arts and each other through virtual and hybrid programs.

This fall, DelArt plans to continue providing safe arts engagement to our community. Programs like virtual school tours and art activity kits will provide standards-based arts education for youth in Wilmington. Other programs like our Healing through the Arts help participants heal from trauma through virtual slow art tours. In addition, we are extending our popular Happy Hours into the fall season and showing drive-in movies with DelArt Cinema. These and more innovative programs can be found on our website: delart.org.

Bank of America’s gift along with donations from DuPont and the National Endowment for the Arts’ CARES Act are supporting DelArt as we provide invaluable, community-centered programs during this pandemic. “Bank of America has been advancing the arts in our community for over 20 years,” says Molly Giordano, Interim Executive Director at DelArt. “We really appreciate Bank of America’s continued support–especially during this difficult year.”

“The coronavirus pandemic has put a strain on many cultural organizations, and it is important to provide our support to ensure their continued viability,” said Chip Rossi, Delaware market president for Bank of America. “The Delaware Art Museum plays a significant role in our community and we are committed to assisting their mission of connecting people to culturally enriching experiences.”

This enduring partnership helps make Wilmington a more vibrant place to live. The 2017 Arts & Economic Prosperity 5 report for the state of Delaware from the Americans for the Arts calculates economic impact of arts institutions. According to this study, each year DelArt creates 160 full-time equivalent jobs, $4,508,167 in resident household income, $67,096 in local government revenue, and $338,248 in state government revenue.

The grant is part of Bank of America’s philanthropic giving efforts in local communities. Awardees were selected for their commitment to addressing basic needs, medical response, and workforce development for individuals and families, in particular during the coronavirus pandemic.

Sponsors

This project is supported in part by the National Endowment for the Arts. This organization is supported, in part, by a grant from the Delaware Division of the Arts, a state agency, in partnership with the National Endowment for the Arts. The Division promotes Delaware arts events on www.DelawareScene.com.

About the Delaware Art Museum

For over 100 years, the Museum has served as a primary arts and cultural institution in Delaware. It is alive with experiences, discoveries, and activities to connect people with art and with each other. Originally created in 1912 to honor the renowned illustrator and Wilmington-native, Howard Pyle, the Museum’s collection has grown to over 12,000 works of art in our building and sculpture garden. Also recognized for British Pre-Raphaelite art, the Museum is home to the most comprehensive Pre-Raphaelite collection on display outside of the United Kingdom, and a growing collection of significant contemporary art.

Under the leadership of our Board of Trustees, the Delaware Art Museum is implementing a comprehensive approach to community and civic engagement. This exciting new strategic direction requires that we increase our value and relevance to all audiences.

Visit delart.org for the latest exhibitions, programs, and performances or connect with us via social media.

About Bank of America

At Bank of America, we’re guided by a common purpose to help make financial lives better, through the power of every connection. We’re delivering on this through responsible growth with a focus on our environmental, social and governance (ESG) leadership. ESG is embedded across our eight lines of business and reflects how we help fuel the global economy, build trust and credibility, and represent a company that people want to work for, invest in and do business with. It’s demonstrated in the inclusive and supportive workplace we create for our employees, the responsible products and services we offer our clients, and the impact we make around the world in helping local economies thrive. An important part of this work is forming strong partnerships with nonprofits and advocacy groups, such as community, consumer and environmental organizations, to bring together our collective networks and expertise to achieve greater impact.

Learn more at about.bankofamerica.com, and connect with us on Twitter (@BofA_News).

For more Bank of America news, including dividend announcements and other important information, visit the Bank of America newsroom and register for news email alerts. www.bankofamerica.com

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What happens when you place two unrelated works of art from different continents, centuries, movements, and artistic backgrounds next to one another on a gallery wall? Something magical it seems. Even when works of art have a 150-year gap in their creation and stylistically come from different eras, relationships can form between them if they connect visually or tell similar stories that strengthen their bond.

The way that a museum is able to share these stories with the community is through the practice of collecting. This idea has become the basic premise of the upcoming show Collecting and Connecting: Recent Acquisitions, 2010-2020. Over the past ten years, the Museum’s curators have worked hard to expand each of the collections (American Illustration, British Pre-Raphaelites, American Art to 1960, Contemporary Art, and the Helen Farr Sloan Library and Archives), which has resulted in the acquisition of more than 1,500 new works. Always keeping the existing artwork in mind, the curators have actively shaped the collections to emphasize stories of women, artists of color, LGBTQ+ communities, local artists, and works which express innovative creativity.

Viewing artwork is an interpretive and subjective experience because everyone brings a different perspective to the table. This is the main reason why the works that will be shown in Collecting and Connecting are organized into groups based on visual, contextual, and emotional connections instead of by collection or chronological order. This way, we hope to create juxtapositions with artwork which extend past the barriers of time, movement, collection, country, style, or medium, and focus on what viewers physically see in the moment.

When beginning to plan the exhibition, it was difficult not to organize by collection, chronological order, or overarching theme, which is how most shows that feature recent acquisitions are laid out. The organization by theme was appealing, but felt forced, and we wanted to give the audience as much freedom for interpretation as possible. This quickly evolved into what the basis of the show will be: creating strong relationships between unrelated works through interesting juxtapositions. After looking through all 1,500+ works, a few significant relationships began to appear, one of which was that between Jerry Pinkney’s Cover Study for The Old African,” 2005, and John Everett Millais’s The Bridge of Sighs, 1857.

Take a moment to view these two works. With no background or context, what are you seeing? What stories do you think they are telling independently? What story do you think they tell together?

Pinkney, a successful illustration artist, created this watercolor as a study for the cover of Julius Lester’s children’s book, The Old African, published in 2005, which tells the reimagined legend of the Old African, a slave who uses mystical powers to free and lead a group of his fellow slaves on a journey back to their homeland of Africa.[1] Pinkney illustrated the entire book, creating stunning visuals that revealed both the horrors of slavery and the magic of hope in a way that still engages and educates readers of all ages. Expressing his desire to tell stories through images, Pinkney states on his website, “I’ve made a concerted effort to use my art making to examine as well as express my interest in Black history and culture—the tragedy, resilience, courage, and grit of African American people in their contributions to this country’s development. This deep dive into my own roots also bridged my interest in other cultures and histories of people who have been marginalized.”[2]

Both this study and the final version feature the main character, the Old African, gazing out into the ocean horizon where ships are sailing by, presumably on their way to deliver or pick up slaves. The ships are deceptively colorful albeit their ominous nature. Pinkney chose to depict a scene that sits in the interim of the story’s action—between fleeing the plantation and arriving in Africa. The energy and emotion of a scene that shows the Old African in contemplation is palpable. Pinkney filled this moment with vibrant colors to possibly represent the spiritual nature and magical abilities of the Old African, but also to express an optimistic attitude that good will conquer evil. The Museum acquired this piece in 2018 for a number of reasons, one of which was its visual relationship to Howard Pyle’s colorful pirate works, such as An Attack on a Galleon (1905), a work already in the Museum’s collection.

In 1857, John Everett Millais etched the scene in The Bridge of Sighs based on the poem of the same name by Thomas Hood, which was originally published in 1844. The poem tells the story of a woman driven to suicide because of her status as an impoverished, homeless, vagrant living on the streets of Victorian London. In this print, Millais depicts the woman contemplating her decision. The common archetype that developed in Victorian England of the “fallen woman” was a woman who was cast out by her family because of a sexual transgression and/or who lacked opportunities provided to men, such as a proper job or housing.[3] This woman, according to social myth, would then go to the city where she became a prostitute, eventually throwing herself off of a bridge out of guilt, and then literally falling to her death.[4]

The Pre-Raphaelite Brotherhood and related artists chose to depict confrontational scenes of modern life, contrary to the Royal Academy’s preference for sentimental genre scenes. The fallen woman was depicted by many Victorian artists in various stages of their plight, with many artists seeking to arouse empathy in the viewer for the difficulties a modern woman faces. Many artists also sought to warn their audience about what can happen if a woman is led astray from the social norm. In Dante Gabriel Rossetti’s unfinished Found (1854), the woman has already fallen but is being rescued, whereas in George Frederic Watts’s Found Drowned (1848-50) the woman has already completed suicide by jumping from a bridge. Millais’s work, however, shows a woman between these two possible endings, not yet rescued but not yet having lost all hope. It is a moment of anticipation in which the viewer can imagine the woman turning her life around and recovering or suffering the same fate as many others.

While planning and selecting works for the exhibition, there were a few visual relationships that we identified right from the start and used as the basis for creating other connections between work of art. Even when we did not have a clear idea of how this show would be presented, we knew that the relationships we were seeing were important and shared the story of the Museum’s collections in a different way. It has been a fascinating exercise to look at the museum’s 1,500+ recent acquisitions and see how much a work from 1857 and one from 2005 can tell the same story or have a very similar composition.

Like Pinkney’s study, Millais’s print also shows a moment of contemplation and anticipation. Both the Old African and the fallen woman have been horribly abused and mistreated by society at large, abandoned and left to their own devices. Whereas the Old African chooses to see hope and fight for freedom, the fallen woman sees endless despair and will ultimately choose to accept her tragic fate.

Compositionally, the figures in Pinkney’s study for The Old African and Millais’s The Bridge of Sighs sit on opposite sides of their framed scenes and face opposite directions. The woman in Millais’s work is in standing on the right and gazing out on the environment to the left with her face open to the audience, most likely because she has nothing to hide anymore. Alternately, Pinkney’s Old African stands waist deep in the water on the left, while looking out on the ships and expanse of ocean to the right and is turned away from the audience, adding to the mystery of the character. Pinkney’s work is a bright, colorful day scene, whereas Millais’s is a black and white, shadowed nocturne. Although the two artists lived more than 100 years apart and in different continents, they each used their artistic talents to meaningfully share a story that would educate, create empathy and understanding, and potentially have an impact on their community. Cover Study for The Old African and The Bridge of Sighs make for an unlikely pairing, but have a deeper visual and contextual relationship that instantly made them a vital part of Collecting and Connecting: Recent Acquisitions, 2010-2020.

Collecting and Connecting: Recent Acquisitions, 2010-2020 will run from March 13 to September 12, 2021, in the Anthony N. and Catherine A. Fusco Gallery, with additional recent acquisitions installed and highlighted throughout the Museum and Copeland Sculpture Garden.

Caroline Giddis
2020 Alfred Appel, Jr. Curatorial Fellow
MA in Art History, Savannah College of Art and Design

Above, left to right: Variant of or study for the cover of “The Old African”, 2005, for The Old African by Julius Lester (New York, Dial Press, 2005). Jerry Pinkney (born 1939). Watercolor and graphite on paper, 12 1/4 × 10 3/16 inches. Delaware Art Museum, Acquisition Fund, 2018. © Jerry Pinkney. | The Bridge of Sighs, 1857. John Everett Millais (1829-1896). Etching, plate: 4 ½ x 3 ½ inches, sheet: 16 ¾ x 11 inches. Delaware Art Museum, Acquisition Fund, 2015.

Sources/Endnotes

1. Publisher’s Weekly, “The Old African, Julius Lester, Author, Jerry Pinkney, Illustrator,” book review, Publisher’s Weekly, October 24, 2005, https://www.publishersweekly.com/978-0-8037-2564-5.
2. Jerry Pinkney, What’s New?, JerryPinkneyStudio.com, 2019, accessed September 21, 2020, https://www.jerrypinkneystudio.com/frameset.html.
3. Linda Nochlin, “Lost and Found: Once More the Fallen Woman,” in Feminism and Art History: Questioning the Litany, ed. Norma Broude and Mary D. Garrard, 1st ed., (New York: Harper and Row, 1982), 226-229.
4. Lynn Nead, “The Magdalen in Modern Times: The Mythology of the Fallen Woman in Pre-Raphaelite Painting,” Oxford Art Journal 7, no. 1 (1984): 30-32.

A Museum is more than what’s inside its walls and from September through November, the Delaware Art Museum will connect people to art both outdoors and online.

Happy Hour on the Museum Terrace takes place every Thursday from 5–7:30 pm through October 15 (weather permitting). These free events feature cool beverages from the cash bar and live music and performances such as Joseph Whitney on steel drums (September 24), Toni “Big Cat” Smith Quartet (October 1) and Dance Works in Progress (October 15). Food provided by Los Taquitos De Puebla, with a menu that includes several kinds of tacos and vegetarian offerings. Following Happy Hour on September 24, Spokey Speaky reggae concert will perform a free concert at 7 pm which will also be live streamed.

On September 26 and 27, Delaware Shakespeare will present Shakespeare in the Garden; theatrical selections performed in the Copeland Sculpture Garden. At 4:30pm and 6pm each night, Delaware Shakespeare actors will perform in front of six sculptures during a 60-minute walking tour of the Copeland Sculpture Garden. Tickets are $25 for Non-Members. Beer and wine will be available for purchase.

Alternating Thursdays in September and October also invite movie lovers to drive-in for classic films presented in partnership with DelArt Cinema: The Maltese Falcon, September 17, The Birdcage, October 1, North by Northwest, October 15, and Frankenstein, October 29. Rain dates are on subsequent Friday nights. Start times vary from 8–8:45 pm. Tickets begin at $17 and include popcorn and soft drinks, with upgrades available. Advanced purchase only.

Marking the change of season, the community is invited to take a special meditative walk through the Museum’s labyrinth at the Anthony N. Fusco Reservoir on the annual Fall Equinox Labyrinth Walk, September 22 from 10­–11 am.

On Family 2nd Sunday, October 11, families are invited to enjoy a Story Walk in the Copeland Sculpture Garden. The children’s story Tar Beach by Faith Ringgold will be installed along the Museum’s outdoor pathways for families to discover.

To honor ancestors and lives lost to COVID-19, the Museum is hosting a free outdoor Día de los Muertos event on Saturday, October 31 from 1–4pm. We will observe the holiday with a ceremony and labyrinth walk, ofrenda installations for guests to contribute pictures and quotes to, Azteca dancers, vendors, and food by Los Taquitos de Puebla.

While outdoor events are mostly taking place on evenings and weekends, online events offer opportunities to foster creativity throughout the week.

Every third Thursday at Noon, Art Chats take place on the video platform Zoom. The topic of Plant LIFE in the City is planned for September 17. Environmental Social Scientist Dr. Jame McCray and JaQuanne LeRoy, Teaching Artist and Curator in Residence for the Delaware Art Museum, Delaware College of Art and Design, and Chris White Gallery will discuss an art-science exploration that engaged local artists in the subject of environmental justice. Additional Art Chats are planned with curators and other special guests on October 15 and beyond. Art Chats are free for Members, and $7 for non-Members.

The Museum’s monthly slow art tour goes virtual, and adds a meditative artmaking experience. Healing Through the Arts: Virtual Slow Art and Artful Meditation takes place September 20. Registration is free, and participants will receive a Zoom link upon registration.

Experience the Delaware Korean Festival from the comfort of your home starting October 2. The Museum will virtually co-host this year’s free festival through on our website and social media. The 30-minute program includes how to make Japchae (Korean noodles), Korean martial arts, an introduction to the Korean language, and a short film about a second generation Korean-American’s life. This program is produced by the Delaware Korean Association with support from the Korean government.

Other opportunities to take a deep dive into art, virtually, include Art is Tasty on the first Friday of the month at Noon and two Inside Look discussions in November. The October 2 Art is Tasty will discuss the Museum’s Labyrinth over a 30-minute Zoom chat. Free for Members; $7 for Non-Members.

Inside Look: Parade de Paysans takes place virtually on Friday, November 20, Noon, and Sunday, November 22, 2 pm. This free, in-depth dialogue will focus on Loïs Mailou Jones’ painting, led by University of Delaware Art History graduate student Kristin Nassif.

Even free events may require registration, so visit each event’s page on delart.org for further details. Events may have capacity limits and Zoom events require registration in order for participants to receive their Zoom links.

Acknowledgement of Support

This organization is supported, in part, by a grant from the Delaware Division of the Arts, a state agency, in partnership with the National Endowment for the Arts. The Division promotes Delaware arts events on www.DelawareScene.com. Support provided by Art Bridges.

Press Contact

Please contact Cynthia Smith, Marketing Manager, at csmith@delart.org or 302-351-8514.

About the Delaware Art Museum

For over 100 years, the Museum has served as a primary arts and cultural institution in Delaware. It is alive with experiences, discoveries, and activities to connect people with art and with each other. Originally created in 1912 to honor the renowned illustrator and Wilmington-native, Howard Pyle, the Museum’s collection has grown to over 12,000 works of art in our building and sculpture garden. Also recognized for British Pre-Raphaelite art, the Museum is home to the most comprehensive collection of Pre-Raphaelite art on display outside of the United Kingdom and a growing collection of significant contemporary art. Embracing all disciplines, the Museum’s Performance Series ranges from concerts by Pyxis Piano Quartet, resident ensemble of over ten years, to cutting-edge, multi-disciplinary artists committed to social justice and pushing the boundaries of artistic practice.

Under the leadership of our Board of Trustees, the Delaware Art Museum is implementing a comprehensive approach to community and civic engagement. This exciting new strategic direction requires that we increase our value and relevance to all audiences. Visit delart.org for the latest exhibitions, programs, and performances or connect with us via social media.

Event on October 1 features an in-person panel with a professional film crew

WILMINGTON, Del. — Since 2018, the Conversations with Women Making a Difference series has brought audiences to the Delaware Art Museum for vibrant discussions among women leading change and breaking boundaries. The Museum is one of the recipients of funds raised by this event.

The Delaware Art Museum is committed to expanding their collection of art by female artists and to increasing solo exhibitions by female artists. This reflects the Museums mission to address race, gender, and diversity gaps within the museum field and to represent more fully the range of individuals that shape the history of art.

For the first time, on Thursday, October 1, 2020, Blue Blaze Associates will present a virtual conversation.  Carol Arnott-Robbins, founder of series sponsor NEWS4Women,will moderate the in-person panel and discussion will be streamed live on Zoom by a professional film crew at The Mill.

Virtual attendees will enjoy a live discussion and Q&A session followed by networking opportunities with the panelists. Tickets are $25, and all 2020 proceeds benefit the Delaware Art Museum and Fund for Women. Visit www.BlueBlaze.org for tickets and event details.

“We have received rave reviews for the unscripted and candid conversations we’ve hosted in the past,” comments Wendy Scott, co-founder of Blue Blaze Associates. “Our priority in moving to a live stream environment is to preserve the authenticity of these events. With the panelists and facilitator together in real life, we’re looking forward to the same engaging and thought-provoking experience our audiences have come to appreciate.”

The three panelists for October 1 will be:

Colleen Perry Keith – President of Goldey-Beacom College

Colleen Perry Keith is the new president of Goldey-Beacom College and the first woman to hold the position in the school’s 133-year history. In addition, she was the first woman president at the last two colleges where she worked.

Before coming to Delaware, Colleen served as president at Pfeiffer University in North Carolina and as president of Spartanburg Methodist College in South Carolina. Under her leadership, Pfeiffer significantly increased enrollment, created the Office of Digital Transformation and Technology, launched two graduate health science programs, and moved the University from NCAA Division II to Division III athletics. Her strong financial management also led the institution to substantial debt reduction and significant support from USDA for capital projects and debt refinancing.

Colleen holds a Bachelor of Arts Degree in Political Science from State University of New York, University Center at Binghamton; Master of Education Degree, Education Counseling from University of Pittsburgh; and a Doctorate of Philosophy in Higher Education Administration and Student Affairs from The Ohio State University. She is also a breast cancer survivor.

Melody Phillips – Director of Operations for The Warehouse

Melody Phillips is the director for a new teen center being developed in northeast Wilmington. Run for teens and by teens, The Warehouse will offer comprehensive after-school opportunities for up to 700 teens in one of the city’s most underserved neighborhoods. Teens are empowered to lead, prototype, and design programming that they believe will have the greatest impact on their success as they transition from adolescence to adulthood.

The Warehouse is part of a multi-million dollar community revitalization project planned by REACH Riverside. In addition to her DOO role at The Warehouse, Melody serves as Chair of the Workforce Development Committee for REACH Riverside.

Melody is also the Co-Founder and Board Chairwoman of I Am My Sister’s Keeper, an organization that provides rites of passage curriculum, leadership development, and social-emotional skills training to girls 12 to 18 years old.

She holds a Bachelor of Science in Criminal Justice from Saint Joseph’s University and a Masters of Arts in Forensic Psychology from the Chicago School of Professional Psychology. In 2019, Delaware Today honored Melody with a Women in Business award.

Latifa Ihsan Ali – CEO and Head Designer of LiaWear Action

Latifa Ihsan Ali is a Muslimah American fashion designer and entrepreneur who is passionate about helping women get active and keep modest. Her company, LiaWear Action, was born out of the desire to empower Muslim women to pursue the activities they love. The hijab solutions she designs allow women to strengthen themselves through exercise, travel, and adventure. She launched her line of modest swimsuits and sportswear in 2011 and has been encouraging women to get out and run, jog, kick, bike, hike, swim, splash, dive, and dance their way to fitness.

Latifa’s designs are inspired by her travels abroad, including Middle Eastern countries, as well as popular American trends in athletic wear. Her creations were showcased in the Haute and Modesty Fashion Show of DC Fashion Week, the Faith and Fashion Forum held at F.I.T. in New York, the International Sisters Network Annual Fashion Show in Maryland, and the Annual UMM Sisters Fashion Show in Philadelphia. She was awarded the Golden Minaret Award for Best in Fashion from the Academy of Muslim Achievement in 2017.

Latifa is from Wilmington and graduated from John Dickinson High School. She holds a Bachelor of Arts degree in Apparel Design from the University of Delaware.

Conversations with Women Making a Difference in Delaware is a series presented by Blue Blaze Associates and sponsored by NEWS4Women. Each event features a different panel of inspiring women discussing a variety of topics including career highlights, life lessons, and hard-earned wisdom. Proceeds are donated to nonprofits.

For additional updates, find us on Facebook: https://www.facebook.com/ConversationswithWomenDE/.

Presenter: Blue Blaze Associates is a full-service marketing & design agency. We’re a certified Women-owned Business Enterprise (WBE) serving a variety of clients in the for-profit, nonprofit, and government sectors. We’re passionate about building distinctive brands that are authentic, relevant, and memorable.

Panel Facilitator & Series Sponsor: Carol Arnott-Robbins is the founder of NEWS4Women (Network to Encourage Women’s Support 4 Women), an initiative to build collaborative community and economic opportunities for women, and to support local nonprofit organizations. She is also a realtor with Berkshire Hathaway HomeServices Fox & Roach.

2020 Partners & Beneficiaries: Delaware Art Museum, Fund for Women Delaware, and Spur Impact

2020 Media Sponsors: Delaware Today, Delaware Business Times, and Delaware Business Now

Wilmington, DE — In a continuing effort to connect people to the arts during COVID-19, the Delaware Art Museum has partnered with DelArt Cinema to offer biweekly drive-in movies on the Museum’s grounds in the Copeland Sculpture Garden. Film buffs can enjoy socially-distant, crowd-pleasing classics in genres ranging from noir to spy to comedy to vintage horror. The movies, which take place every other Thursday (with subsequent Friday evenings dedicated to rain dates), are scheduled through October 29, weather permitting. Admission is $19 per person and includes food and beverage, with a discount extended to Museum members; admission by advanced purchase only.

The September selections are Pulp Fiction and The Maltese Falcon, and the movies begin at approximately 8:45 p.m. October selections are The Birdcage, North by Northwest, and Frankenstein, and begin at approximately 8:30 p.m. After check-in, guests select food and drinks, which are handed to them in their vehicles. Moviegoers are asked to arrive no later than 20 minutes before show time; late arrivals will be parked at the Museum’s discretion. Gates open at 7:45 p.m. for all shows. FM radio transmission is required to hear the movies, and masks are required for interaction with staff and restroom visits.

Marion Jackson, Director of Operations for DelArt Cinema, described the film selection process, “With so much of the world in disarray, it makes the current day feel morbid. We wanted to offer a selection of films that allows our guests to break out of that headspace. We tried to pick stories that are strong enough to make the world around them melt away, if only for an hour or two.”

Lauren McMahon, Delaware Art Museum’s Event and Rentals Manager, said, “While the Museum is open Wednesday through Sunday for visitors, these outdoor, after-hours events align with the Museum’s commitment to balancing relevance and sustainability. We are offering our beautiful campus in a safe way to community members for whom film is a source of enjoyment and bonding.”

Dates and synopses for each film:

Pulp Fiction, September 3. This 1994 neo-noir black comedy features innumerable stars, most notably, Samuel L. Jackson, John Travolta, and Uma Thurman. It won the Palme D’Or at Cannes and took Best Picture and Best Original Screenplay Oscars, landing it on the National Film Registry. The source for scores of humorous memes and an iconic dance routine, the movie also prophetically introduced the realities of opioid use into the common American vernacular. Rated R.

The Maltese Falcon, September 17. Continuing the noir theme, this 1941 film showcases Humphrey Bogart as a private eye, with John Huston at the directorial helm. Bogart’s Sam Spade navigates the criminal underworld in search of a bejeweled bird. It was one of the first 25 films on the National Film Registry, and is considered by some to be the first major film noir. The studio asked for Bogart’s lines to be delivered faster, thus setting the stage for the noir genre’s signature “rat-a-tat” speaking pace. Said blinged out bird was sold to a movie memorabilia collector for $4 million in 2013. Not rated.

The Birdcage, October 1. While by no means noir, this 1996 film, starring Robin Williams and Nathan Lane, nonetheless relies on secret identities to drive its plot: boy’s two “out” dads meet girl’s conservative mom and dad. The introduction of gay and drag culture into conservative settings as a punchline may strike some as dated in 2020, but in 1996, as in 1983 when La Cage aux Folles became a Broadway hit, it was groundbreaking. Mainstream films that delved into the humanity of gay couples were few and far between, as were drag performers portrayed through something other than the man-in-a-dress gag. The Screen Actors Guild awarded the cast an Outstanding Performance award. Rated R.

North by Northwest, October 15. Sure, this 1959 Hitchcock spy thriller hits all the genre’s important buttons: mistaken identity, a conflicted femme fatale, smuggling a microfilm (a “MacGuffin”) of government secrets on a moving train, kidnapping, and murder. But it’s a don’t-miss for another reason: Cary Grant and James Mason may have two of the most recognizable voices in movie history. Another National Film Registry pick and number 40 on American Film Institute’s 100 greatest movies of all time, it’s the first movie to feature extensive kinetic typography in its opening credits and has a 99% approval rating on Rotten Tomatoes. GQ magazine named Grant’s movie costume the best suit in film history and the most influential on men’s style. Not rated.

Frankenstein, October 29. This 1931 film features Boris Karloff as Dr. Frankenstein’s monster. It is on the National Film Registry and sits at number 87 on the American Film Institute’s 100 greatest movies of all time. While the film’s subject is widely known and its horror may seem tame to modern viewers, Kansas censors requested as many 32 scenes cut from the reel due to accusations of blasphemy. Rated PG.

Reflecting on previous Delaware Art Museum drive-in movies, Jackson added, “We have gotten some great feedback from our guests. A couple that came to see Some Like It Hot gleefully remarked that, in their younger years, their first date was a drive-in. We’ve had parents, excited to relive a piece of their childhood, introducing their own kids to drive-in films for the first time. Evoking those kinds of feelings and bringing some light into these dark times was exactly what we hoped for when we chose our films.”

Every paid ticket entitles the guest to a popcorn and a soda or water. Ticket upgrades include candy or snacks such as chocolate bars, gummies, pretzels, nuts, cookies, crackers, or chips, as well as beer or wine.

No sitter? While not all of the movie topics are family fare, kids ages 6 and under are free, so they could, theoretically, snooze in the back seat. Museum restrooms will be available in the studio wing.

This program is supported, in part, by a grant from the Delaware Division of the Arts, a state agency, in partnership with the National Endowment for the Arts. The Division promotes Delaware arts events on www.DelawareScene.com.

IF YOU GO:

WHAT: Delaware Art Museum and DelArt Cinema Present Drive-in Pulp Fiction
WHEN: Thursday, Sept. 3, 2020 (rain date Friday, Sept. 4), approximately 8:45 p.m., gates open 7:45 p.m.
WHERE: Delaware Art Museum Copeland Sculpture Garden, 2301 Kentmere Parkway, Wilmington, DE 19806
COST: Free—$19 (food upgrades available; discount for members)
INFO: delart.org

WHAT: Delaware Art Museum and DelArt Cinema Present Drive-in The Maltese Falcon
WHEN: Thursday, Sept. 17, 2020 (rain date Friday, Sept. 18), approximately 8:45 p.m., gates open 7:45 p.m.
WHERE: Delaware Art Museum Copeland Sculpture Garden, 2301 Kentmere Parkway, Wilmington, DE 19806
COST: Free—$19 (food upgrades available; discount for members)
INFO: delart.org

WHAT: Delaware Art Museum and DelArt Cinema Present Drive-in The Birdcage
WHEN: Thursday, Oct. 1, 2020 (rain date Friday, Oct. 2), approximately 8:30 p.m., gates open 7:45 p.m.
WHERE: Delaware Art Museum Copeland Sculpture Garden, 2301 Kentmere Parkway, Wilmington, DE 19806
COST: Free—$19 (food upgrades available; discount for members)
INFO: delart.org

WHAT: Delaware Art Museum and DelArt Cinema Present Drive-in North by Northwest
WHEN: Thursday, Oct. 15, 2020 (rain date Friday, Oct. 16), approximately 8:30 p.m., gates open 7:45 p.m.
WHERE: Delaware Art Museum Copeland Sculpture Garden, 2301 Kentmere Parkway, Wilmington, DE 19806
COST: Free—$19 (food upgrades available; discount for members)
INFO: delart.org

WHAT: Delaware Art Museum and DelArt Cinema Present Drive-in Frankenstein
WHEN: Thursday, Oct. 29, 2020 (rain date Friday, Oct. 30), approximately 8:30 p.m., gates open 7:45 p.m.
WHERE: Delaware Art Museum Copeland Sculpture Garden, 2301 Kentmere Parkway, Wilmington, DE 19806
COST: Free—$19 (food upgrades available; discount for members)
INFO: delart.org

The 1920s were a heady time in fashion illustration. Magazines like Vogue and Harper’s Bazaar featured illustrated covers and pages of articles highlighting the latest styles. National ready-to-wear clothing companies hired top illustrators to promote their brands with eye-catching, full-color layouts. The Museum has a fascinating collection of fashion illustrations from the 1920s. I’ve been exploring them lately as work toward an upcoming exhibition on Jazz Age Illustration.

Vogue commissioned top-notch illustrators like Sarah Stilwell Weber and Helen Dryden to design creative, playful covers in the teens and twenties. These covers didn’t always showcase current styles—Dryden’s 1922 Cover for Vogue (see below) seems to evoke an earlier era—but they convey a stylish sensibility and enthusiasm for fashion. Interior images, like Manuel de Lambarri’s straightforward graphics, generally related more directly to current questions of what to wear.

Image Above: Cover for Vogue, December 15, 1922. Helen Dryden (1882–1981). Gouache, ink, and watercolor on paper, 19 × 15 1/2 inches. Delaware Art Museum, Acquisition Fund, 1992.

By the twenties, fashion illustration permeated American culture, appearing well beyond the publications dedicated to fashion. Even the most ordinary products—men’s shirts and suits, hosiery for women—were promoted with striking visual campaigns that appeared in widely circulated general-interest magazines like The Saturday Evening Post. J.C. Leyendecker’s Arrow Collar Man was one of the most iconic images of the period. Strikingly handsome and impeccably turned out, the Arrow Collar Man supposedly received bags full of mail from admiring women. Ads often pictured him encased in an oval—his chiseled features perfectly framed by a white collar and necktie. A recently accessioned sketch in the Museum’s collection may be a study for an Arrow Collar ad. The model for the Arrow Collar Man was Charles Beach, Leyendecker’s partner in business and life for 50 years.

Image Above, left to right: Portrait Head (Possible Study for Arrow Collar Advertisement), c. 1925. J.C. Leyendecker (1874–1951). Graphite on coated canvas, 10 3/8 x 7 5/8 inches. Delaware Art Museum, Gift of Helen Farr Sloan, 1984; Accessioned, 2020. | Figure Study for a Kuppenheimer Advertisement, 1929. J.C. Leyendecker (1874–1951), Oil on (linen) canvas, 22 x 9 1/4 inches. Delaware Art Museum, Acquisition Fund, 2016.

Beach modeled for many of Leyendecker’s advertisements, likely including this over-the-top Kuppenheimer Suits promotion. The Museum owns a Figure Study for this luxurious spread. A famous illustrator whose signature style dominated the covers of The Saturday Evening Post in the pre-Rockwell era, Leyendecker himself brought a gloss of glamour to the ad campaigns he created. According to one critic, he crystallized “the refined American male look of the first 30 years of the 20th century.”

C. Coles Phillips brought his ideal of the fashionable modern woman to advertisements and magazine covers. Phillips designed many ads for Holeproof Hosiery, featuring women displaying their flawless stockings. In his cover for The Saturday Evening Post (top) a stylish woman must cope instead with impromptu repairs to her hosiery. Everything about her—the dropped-waist dress, bobbed hair, and chic shoes—made her an aspirational image for contemporary women.

Even as these beautiful images were appearing in American magazines every week, change was brewing. In 1923, Edward Steichen became chief photographer for Vogue and Vanity Fair. Steichen became one of the pioneers of fashion photography, pushing the field in new artistic directions. By the early 1920s, photography was making inroads within magazine layouts, and in 1932, Vogue printed its first photographic cover. Issues with photographic covers soon outsold ones with illustrated covers. A period known as a “golden age” of fashion illustration was coming to an end.

Heather Campbell Coyle
Curator of American Art

Top: Cover for The Saturday Evening Post, October 2, 1920. C. Coles Phillips (1880–1927). Watercolor, gouache, and graphite on illustration board, 20 × 16 inches. Delaware Art Museum, Acquisition Fund, 1988.

Along the Harlem River, 1925. Malvin Gray Johnson (1896–1934). Oil on canvas board, 12 × 16 inches. Delaware Art Museum, Acquisition Fund, 2017.

Art history has a bias toward “mature work” and signature styles. Within our public galleries, most artists are represented by a single work, so museums tend to seek out and exhibit the most characteristic examples of an artist’s career. But I have to confess my affection for many artists’ early works. I love it when you can see an artist discovering their interests and talents. One of the things I admire most about the living artists I work with is how they constantly solve problems. I love a work that still has traces of that problem-solving labor and experimentation.

Upstairs in the gallery dedicated to modern American art, early works by Malvin Gray Johnson and Hughie Lee-Smith hang side by side. The Johnson is an impressionist glimpse across the Harlem River, and it was painted in 1925 when he was still a student. Johnson died of heart failure at age 38 and may never have settled on a mature style. Active at the heart of the Harlem Renaissance, he was a relentless experimenter who quickly moved on to incorporate elements of cubism and African art into his work in the late 1920s. In 1934, he headed south, recording the daily life of rural African Americans in watercolors. His experiments with modern styles may have started with impressionism in works like Harlem River.

Hughie Lee-Smith lived a long life and gained fame for his psychologically charged depictions of isolated figures in urban settings. Holland Cotter described Lee-Smith’s work in the artist’s obituary in the New York Times:

Mr. Lee-Smith’s paintings usually have spare settings suggestive of theater stages or bleak urban or seaside landscapes. Walls stretch out under gray skies. Men and women, as lithe as dancers, seem frozen in place. Most are dressed in street clothes; some wear exotic masks. Children frequently appear, as do props reminiscent of circuses. The work has an air of mystery associated with the paintings of Giorgio de Chirico and Edward Hopper.

imageThe Bouquet, 1949. Hughie Lee-Smith (1915–1999). Oil on Masonite, 23 3/4 × 17 3/4 inches. Delaware Art Museum, Acquisition Fund, 2018 © Estate of Hughie Lee-Smith / VAGA for ARS, New York, NY.

DelArt’s painting by Lee-Smith, The Bouquet, has the artist’s characteristic bleak landscape and air of mystery, but it has a stronger implied narrative than many of his best known later works. There is urgency and energy in the figures’ interaction that is echoed in the rough, textured paint of her dress. It seems like a picture of young love gone wrong. The artist was about 34 when he made it. Four years later, Lee-Smith would launch his career, finishing his bachelor’s degree at Wayne State and winning a top prize for painting at the Detroit Institute of Art.

Heather Campbell Coyle
Chief Curator and Curator of American Art

About Copyright: Through the protection of Fair Use (Section 107, title 17, U.S. Code), the Delaware Art Museum is able to place low-resolution images of works of art in our collection for which we do not hold the rights on this blog. We assert that these images are for educational research only, and follow guidelines for digital thumbnail images outlined by the Association of Art Museum Directors . The Delaware Art Museum respects the intellectual property rights of others, and is committed to researching which works in the collection are protected under copyright and to clearly providing that information where necessary.

The Delaware Art Museum is pleased to announce the Creative Spacers Youth Art Contest, a continuation of the Creative Spacers project. Delaware residents between the ages of 6-19 can submit works of original art that creatively convey a theme of hope, love, social distancing, or pandemic safety. The contest, which will be open from July 20 to August 10, is intended to spread awareness of safety practices as well as encourage, engage, and celebrate young artists during the current COVID-19 pandemic.

“All submissions must be original, 12 x 12 square 2D works.” The five works in each age category (6-13 and 14-19) that are most effective and creative at conveying the themes will be compensated with a gift card to a local art supply store. Scans of the artwork will be displayed at the Museum in late August. The originals will be retained by the Museum for use in the 12 x 12 Student Exhibition in 2021.

The Creative Spacers Youth Art Contest aligns with the Museum’s commitment to civic engagement through community outreach and participation. “Aside from commissioning a diverse group of local adult artists for the Creative Spacers project, we wanted to include a younger generation of aspiring artists during a time when many are stuck at home,” says Lillia Schmidt, Community Engagement Intern, who is working closely with Jonathan Whitney, the Museum’s Manager of Performance Programs and Community Engagement, on the contest.

For more information on eligibility, requirements, and submission instructions, click here.

Please contact Cynthia Smith, Marketing Manager, at csmith@delart.org or 302-351-8514.

This program is supported, in part, by a grant from the Delaware Division of the Arts, a state agency, in partnership with the National Endowment for the Arts. The Division promotes Delaware arts events on www.DelawareScene.com.

Scheduled for late March, the opening of Layered Abstraction: Helen Mason and Margo Allman was delayed due to Covid-19 and the Museum’s subsequent closure. Now, with our recent reopening, Layered Abstraction is on view for the public.

For more than 50 years, Margo Allman and Helen Mason have challenged traditional expectations for contemporary art in the greater Wilmington area. The Delaware Art Museum celebrates these two pioneering artists with a Distinguished Artist Series retrospective in its premier exhibition gallery space through January 17, 2021.

Both Allman and Mason have dedicated their artistic careers to exploring the infinite possibilities of abstraction. Margo Allman’s work was first exhibited at the Museum during its 43rd Annual Delaware Show in 1956. Since then, Allman has participated in countless juried and curated shows at the Museum and throughout the region. Her prints, paintings, and sculptures, which are inspired by nature, bring form to the invisible. Layered Abstraction will feature more than 50 of Allman’s works of art, including her early 1950s avant-garde prints; her sculptures in marble, wood, concrete, and synthetic fiber from the 70s and 80s; her signature series of ovoidal paintings; and her graphic drawings dating from 2004 to 2019.

Helen Mason, who arrived in Delaware in 1967, has exhibited at the Delaware Art Museum and played an active role on the Delaware State Arts Council—all while teaching generations of students at the Tatnall School in Wilmington. Materiality is a consistent inspiration for Mason, as is Minimal art and the Japanese techniques of layering, bundling, gathering, knotting, and folding. Layered Abstraction will feature more than 80 works of art by Mason, including her jewelry, paintings, and ceramics from the 1970s through today, and selections from her 1988 Delaware Art Museum./

About Margo Allman

Margo Allman is an abstract artist who works in painting, printmaking, and sculpture. She attended Moore College of Art and Design in Philadelphia where she studied with the abstract expressionist artist Leonard Nelson. She also pursued further study with Hans Hofmann. Since 1954, Allman has participated in countless solo and group exhibitions in the United States and abroad, including at the Delaware Art Museum, the Biggs Museum of American Art, and the West Chester University Art Gallery. Her work is also featured in many regional collections, including the Delaware Art Museum and the Philadelphia Museum of Art.

“My life in art and its driving preoccupation is to both explore and form my emotions, my yearnings and the mysteries of nature,” says Allman. “My never-ending goal is to enrich others with the quality of my true and unique talents.”

About Helen Mason

Helen Mason received her MFA from the University of Delaware and her BFA from the Rhode Island School of Design/Brown University. Among her many honors are a National Endowment for the Arts/Delaware State Arts Council Individual Artist Fellowship, a Gulbenkian Foundation Grant, and a Delaware Art Museum Purchase Award. She was appointed by the Governor to the Board of the Delaware State Arts Council serving two terms, served on the Board of the Delaware Center for the Contemporary Arts, and directed the Art Program as Chairman at the Tatnall School in Wilmington. Mason’s work has been exhibited nationally and internationally at the American Craft Museum (MAD) in NY, the National Museum of Women in the Arts in DC, the Biggs Museum in DE, the Delaware Art Museum, the High Museum of Art in Atlanta, the Vonderau Museum in Germany, Takashimya Gallery in Japan, and the Aaron Faber Gallery in NY. Her work is in the permanent collections of the Delaware Art Museum, the Hercules Powder Co in DE, the Kalamazoo Institute of Art in MI, and the High Museum.

“As a sculptor, I see myself constructing shapes that are self-contained, uncompromising, and singular, often thinking in different scales to explore an idea,” says Mason. “My inspiration is drawn from Minimalism and the stability and refinement of geometric forms. The color black is always a constant, incorporating a strong influence of the East, symbolizing mystery, serenity, and elegance. My motivation is a search for innovative ways to test convention, always with the desire to break the boundaries between art and craft.”

Press Contact

Media interviews with both artists are available upon request. Please contact Cynthia Smith, Marketing Manager, at csmith@delart.org or 302.351.8514 To to request and interview.

Acknowledgement of Support

Layered Abstraction: Margo Allman & Helen Mason was organized by the Delaware Art Museum. This exhibition is made possible by the Emily du Pont Memorial Exhibition Fund and is supported, in part, by a grant from the Delaware Division of the Arts, a state agency, in partnership with the National Endowment for the Arts. The Division promotes Delaware arts events on www.DelawareScene.com.

In 2018, the Museum partnered with 19 organizations throughout the city of Wilmington to mark 50 years since the powerful and community-changing public response that followed the assassination of Dr. Martin Luther King, Jr. on April 4, 1968. The civil disturbances in Wilmington, which were followed by a nine-month occupation by the Delaware National Guard, left an indelible mark on the community.

Artist Hank Willis Thomas was commissioned by the Museum to respond to the events of 1968 through the creation of a new work of art that shed light on this complicated moment in the city’s history. Following the 2018 exhibition, the Museum acquired Black Survival Guide, or How to Live Through a Police Riot from Thomas for the benefit of the communities we serve.

Two years later, Black Survival Guide, or How to Live Through a Police Riot has been reinstalled and is on view now through September 27. The work is a series of 13 retroreflective screen prints based on photographs from The News Journal and a booklet in the collection of the Delaware Historical Society that is titled Black Survival Guide, or How to Live Through a Police Riot.

The Delaware Art Museum rehung this poignant work of art in the wake of the Black Lives Matter protests happening in Wilmington and around the world. The Museum is committed to supporting its community as it grapples with the emotional anxiety and strain of the violent murders of Ahmaud Arbery, Breonna Taylor, George Floyd, and many others as a result of systemic racism. As is laid out in its strategic vision, the Museum will continue to work with its partners to address critical social issues affecting its communities through civic discourse and creative expression.

The Delaware Art Museum reopened on Wednesday, July 1, 2020. Museum Members received two weeks of exclusive access before opening to the general public on Wednesday, July 15, 2020. The Museum will be free to the public from July 15-August 1.

To keep guests safe, Plexiglas shields have been installed at the front desk and in the Museum Store and all transactions are cashless, so visitors are encouraged to remember their credit cards. Guests are required to wear face masks and practice social distancing. The Thronson Café is be closed until further notice. Maps and brochures are only available electronically for the time being.

The Museum has returned to its regular operating hours, which are as follows: Monday and Tuesday: closed; Wednesday, Friday, Saturday, and Sunday: 10 am – 4 pm; Thursday: 10 am – 8 pm.

Acknowledgment of Support

This exhibition is organized by the Delaware Art Museum. This exhibition t is supported, in part, by a grant from the Delaware Division of the Arts, a state agency, in partnership with the National Endowment for the Arts. The Division promotes Delaware arts events on www.DelawareScene.com.

Press Contact

To request an interview, please contact Cynthia Smith, Marketing Manager, at csmith@delart.org or 302-351-8514.

Top: How to Live through a Police Riot [Black Survival Guide, or How to Live Through a Police Riot] (detail), 2018, Hank Willis Thomas (born 1976), Screen print on retroreflective vinyl with aluminum backing, 62 x 48 inches. Delaware Art Museum, F. V. du Pont Acquisition Fund, 2019. Commissioned by the Delaware Art Museum. Photograph of Wilmington Riots and National Guard Occupation by Frank Fahey, 1968. Courtesy of The News Journal. Text from Northeast Conservation Association, Black Survival Guide, or How to Live Through a Police Riot, c. 1960s. Daniels Collection, courtesy of the Delaware Historical Society. © Hank Willis Thomas.

Award-winning, best-selling author Erin Entrada Kelly to give virtual keynote address

The Delaware Art Museum is hosting its fourth annual Wilmington Writers Conference, but this year all events will be offered online. The theme of Untold Stories will be explored through the virtual keynote address, a full slate of craft sessions via Zoom, and online networking opportunities.

“The Wilmington Writers Conference has been popular in the past, but this year, since everything will be offered online, we are looking forward to broadening our audience and including participants of all experience levels and backgrounds from Delaware and beyond,” said Eliza Jarvis, Manager of Youth Learning and Creative Partnerships and Conference Chair.

The virtual conference will kick off at 7 pm on Friday, July 17 with a virtual keynote address by acclaimed author Erin Entrada Kelly, who received the 2018 Newbery Medal for Hello, Universe, the 2017 APALA Award for The Land of Forgotten Girls, and the 2016 Golden Kite Honor Award for Blackbird Fly, among other honors. She is a New York Times bestselling author whose work has been translated into several languages. Her fifth book and first fantasy, Lalani of the Distant Sea, received six starred reviews and was named one of the best books of the year by the New York Public Library, The Horn Book, Booklist, BookPage, and others. All of Erin Entrada Kelly’s books are Junior Library Guild Selections. In 2018, Hello, Universe and You Go First were both acquired for adaptation. Hello, Universe is being adapted by Netflix, and You Go First is being adapted for the stage. Kelly’s keynote address on Friday, July 17 will be free and open to the public, but requires pre-registration. Signed copies of Erin’s books, including We Dream of Space, will be available for sale at the Museum Store.

Writers and aspiring writers of all backgrounds are welcome to register for up to two craft sessions on Saturday, July 18 at the rate of $15 for Members of the Delaware Art Museum, $20 for Non-Members, and $10 for students.

The craft sessions on Saturday, July 18 feature a diverse range of offerings:

  • Lois Hoffman, The Happy Self Publisher—Write! Publish! Sell!
  • Cass Lewis—Fighting Fear Through Voice
  • Gary Zenker—Jumpstart Your Creativity Using Flash Fiction
  • Carol Maurer—Using a Labyrinth as a Creative Tool
  • Caroline N. Simpson—Exercising the Mind’s Eye
  • J. Bryan Tuk, Esq.—Copyright Law: The Artist’s Best Friend
  • Dennis Lawson—Turning Lemons into (Fictional) Lemonade
  • Maria J. Keane—Mary Magdalene: Sinner and/or Saint—Let’s Get it Right!
  • Jacinta S. Fontenelle—A Perspective on Immigration in the United States: Untold Stories
  • Margaret Montet—The Charms of Travel Writing

The conference will conclude at 5 pm on Saturday, July 18 with an all-conference share-back, a series of breakout groups in which participants will be invited to share stories from the day, read pieces of new writing, and network. Bring a drink and a snack and make it a virtual happy hour!

For more information about the Wilmington Writers Conference, including artist biographies, session descriptions, and registration, please visit delart.org.

This program is sponsored by the Art Bridges Foundation and The Happy Self Publisher. This project is supported, in part, by a grant from the Delaware Division of the Arts, a state agency, in partnership with the National Endowment for the Arts. The Division promotes Delaware arts events on www.DelawareScene.com.

Grant to support 2021 restaging of the 1971 exhibition “Afro-American Images”

National Endowment for the Arts Chairman Mary Anne Carter has approved an Art Works award of $25,000 to the Delaware Art Museum for the 2021 restaging of Afro-American Images 1971. This is one of 1,015 grants nationwide that the agency has approved in this category.

The exhibition, on view October 23, 2021 through January 23, 2022, will reunite 130 works of art in various media by 66 artists of color from an exhibition that took place in 1971 in the Armory in Wilmington. This restaging marks the 50th anniversary of the original exhibition, organized by the local arts organization known as Aesthetic Dynamics. The Museum’s Curator of Contemporary Art, Margaret Winslow, and Aesthetic Dynamics’ Vice President, Arnold Hurtt, have organized the exhibition with support from an extensive community advisory committee.

The exhibition explores the Black Arts Movement in the 1960s and 1970s, focusing on major influencers such as James A. Porter, Percy Ricks, and Aesthetic Dynamics. Visitors can expect to examine different definitions of Black art through a critical lens and to learn about local contributions to the national Black Arts Movement. Accompanying the visual art is a digital humanities project that aims to collect oral histories from community members. The Museum encourages anyone interested in sharing their knowledge or experience concerning the original 1971 exhibition, the Black Arts Movement, or Wilmington’s artistic history to contact our Curator of Contemporary Art at mwinslow@delart.org or at 302-351-8539.

“Through this restaging, we are combatting historical amnesia and doing everything that we can to ensure that the archival record is as complete as possible,” says Winslow. “With the 2021 presentation of Afro-American Images, we have a remarkable opportunity to look back at how Wilmington played a role in the Black Arts Movement. What were the reasons for Ricks’ exhibition then and what stories does it tell today? Why was the Delaware Art Museum not an active partner with Aesthetic Dynamics in 1971? Today, the Delaware Art Museum seeks to bring art into the lives of the community in ways that support myriad interests and involves authentic civic engagement. Restaging the original exhibition, 50 years later, addresses numerous historic gaps such as the biased archival record and lack of local institutional support. By collaborating with Aesthetic Dynamics members 50 years later the Delaware Art Museum is afforded the opportunity to investigate its engagement with the Black community. As we certainly see in the Museum’s own renewed focus on acquiring work specifically of women and artists of color, this is still such an important aspect of the curatorial work that we do at this museum.”

The lack of research about this historic exhibition relative to its artistic merit is one reason the Museum is embarking on this exhibition. This restaging will reunite works by nationally established artists such as Romare Bearden, Sam Gilliam, Loïs Mailou Jones, Faith Ringgold, Raymond Saunders, Alma Thomas, and Hale Woodruff. This exhibition is not to be missed.

Acknowledgement of Support

Afro-American Images 1971: The Vision of Percy Ricks was organized by the Delaware Art Museum and Aesthetic Dynamics, Inc. This project is supported in part by the National Endowment for the Arts. The Delaware Art Museum is sponsored by DuPont, by Bank of America, by Corteva, and by M&T Bank. This organization is supported, in part, by a grant from the Delaware Division of the Arts, a state agency, in partnership with the National Endowment for the Arts. The Division promotes Delaware arts events on www.DelawareScene.com.

For more information on this National Endowment for the Arts grant announcement, visit arts.gov/news.

Press Contact

Please contact Cynthia Smith, Marketing Manager, at csmith@delart.org or 302-351-8514.

About the Delaware Art Museum</>

For over 100 years, the Museum has served as a primary arts and cultural institution in Delaware. It is alive with experiences, discoveries, and activities to connect people with art and with each other. Originally created in 1912 to honor the renowned illustrator and Wilmington-native, Howard Pyle, the Museum’s collection has grown to over 12,000 works of art in our building and sculpture garden. Also recognized for British Pre-Raphaelite art, the Museum is home to the most comprehensive collection of Pre-Raphaelite art on display outside of the United Kingdom and a growing collection of significant contemporary art. Embracing all disciplines, the Museum’s Performance Series ranges from concerts by Pyxis Piano Quartet, resident ensemble of over ten years, to cutting-edge, multi-disciplinary artists committed to social justice and pushing the boundaries of artistic practice.

Under the leadership of our Board of Trustees, the Delaware Art Museum is implementing a comprehensive approach to community and civic engagement. This exciting new strategic direction requires that we increase our value and relevance to all audiences.

The Delaware Art Museum is thrilled to announce that it will reopen on Wednesday, July 1, 2020. Museum Members will receive two weeks of exclusive access before opening to the general public on Wednesday, July 15, 2020.

To keep guests safe, Plexiglas shields will be installed at the front desk and in the Museum Store and all transactions will be cashless, so visitors are encouraged to remember their credit cards. Guests will also be required to wear face masks and practice social distancing. The Thronson Café will be closed until further notice. Maps and brochures will only be available electronically for the time being.

The Museum will return to its regular operating hours, which are as follows: Monday and Tuesday: closed; Wednesday, Friday, Saturday, and Sunday: 10 a.m. – 4 p.m.; Thursday: 10 a.m. – 8 p.m. The Museum will be closed on Saturday, July 4 in honor of Independence Day.

The Museum has extended its two spring exhibitions through the remainder of the year, including Layered Abstraction: Margo Allman and Helen Mason, on view until January 17, 2021, and Julio daCunha: Modernizing Myths, on view until November 1, 2020.

“These exhibitions examine and celebrate the artists and histories unique to the greater Wilmington area but applicable to the nation and abroad,” says Margaret Winslow, Curator of Contemporary Art, who curates the Distinguished Artist Series. “Years in the making, these two Distinguished Artist shows are the result of intensive research and collaboration, and it is a joy to be able to share these three artists’ prolific careers with our audience.”

The Museum is also reinstalling Hank Willis Thomas’s commissioned piece, Black Survival Guide, or How to Live Through a Police Riot, in Gallery 9, where it was originally exhibited as part of the Wilmington 1968 series of exhibitions in 2018.

“Two years later, we share this poignant work of art as we grapple with the emotional anxiety and the strain of the violent murders of Ahmaud Arbery, Breonna Taylor, George Floyd, and many others as a result of systemic racism. Parts of this series have been on view in the contemporary gallery, but this is the first time since the Museum acquired the work that it will be on view in its entirety,” says Winslow.

Happy Hours will also be returning to the Museum. The Museum’s first Happy Hour on Thursday, July 9, 2020 will be for Museum Members; the next Happy Hour on July 16, 2020 and Happy Hours thereafter will be for the general public. All Thursday evening Happy Hours will take place from 5:30 p.m. to 7:30 p.m.

The Museum has already begun offering the public opportunities to engage with the building and grounds. The Museum Store has been offering curbside pickup since mid-May. The Museum’s first drive-in movie event will take place on Thursday, June 18, 2020, with a rain date of Friday, June 19, 2020.

“Our staff have worked hard to provide many virtual offerings during our three-month shutdown, including emails spotlighting our collection, musical performances, a spoken-word open mic event, artist talks, art workshops, and a virtual bookstore,” says Molly Giordano, the Museum’s Interim Executive Director. “Now, with Governor Carney easing restrictions, we are excited to return to our core mission: connecting people with art in person.”

Individuals who wish to become a Member prior to the July 1, 2020 Members-only opening date may do so via the Museum’s website, delart.org, or by calling the Museum during open hours prior to their visit. Memberships will not be processed at the front desk. Visitors can show their membership confirmation on their phones at the front desk.

The Delaware Art Museum is sponsored by DuPont, by Bank of America, by Corteva, and by M&T Bank. This organization is supported, in part, by a grant from the Delaware Division of the Arts, a state agency, in partnership with the National Endowment for the Arts. The Division promotes Delaware arts events on www.DelawareScene.com.

Please contact Cynthia Smith, Marketing Manager, at csmith@delart.org or 302-351-8514.

For over 100 years, the Museum has served as a primary arts and cultural institution in Delaware. It is alive with experiences, discoveries, and activities to connect people with art and with each other. Originally created in 1912 to honor the renowned illustrator and Wilmington-native, Howard Pyle, the Museum’s collection has grown to over 12,000 works of art in our building and sculpture garden. Also recognized for British Pre-Raphaelite art, the Museum is home to the largest and most important Pre-Raphaelite collection outside of the United Kingdom and a growing collection of significant contemporary art. Embracing all disciplines, the Museum’s Performance Series ranges from concerts by Pyxis Piano Quartet, resident ensemble of over ten years, to cutting-edge, multi-disciplinary artists committed to social justice and pushing the boundaries of artistic practice.

Under the leadership of our Board of Trustees, the Delaware Art Museum is implementing a comprehensive approach to community and civic engagement. This exciting new strategic direction requires that we increase our value and relevance to all audiences.

The Delaware Art Museum is pleased to announce Creative Spacers, a project that encourages social distancing through art, in the coming months. The Museum has commissioned local artists to each create a series of five works of art, which are then converted into vinyl decals and installed in spaces where social distancing is required. The intent of this project is to bring beauty into the everyday lives of residents, support local artists, and artistically encourage social distancing amid the current COVID-19 pandemic. “The Creative Spacers project grew out of a conversation with Charlie Vincent, executive director of Spur Impact, concerning ways to support artists and inspire the community at a time when COVID-19 was the focus of the national narrative,” says Jonathan Whitney, the Museum’s Manager of Performance Programs and Community Engagement.

Local visual artist Jo Redbird and Wilmington-based abstract artist JaQuanne LeRoy are the first two artists commissioned for Creative Spacers. Their work will be installed outside of food banks, restaurants, and cultural institutions that are integral to Wilmington’s infrastructure. The use of the urban environment, local artists, and local organizations continues the Museum’s mission to redefine public space, reach more diverse, local audiences, and become a civically engaged institution that plays an active and relevant role in Wilmington. “Knowing my art skills are able to positively impact the circumstances with effective visual communication brings me great joy and fulfillment as an artist,” says Redbird. “I was happy to contribute to this project,” says LeRoy. “It’s given me a chance to spread hope in this time.”

The Museum has partnered with the Creative Vision Factory to aid in the installation process. The pilot has been installed at Green Box Kitchen on Market Street and West End Neighborhood House, with an upcoming pilot installation at the Latin American Community Center (LACC). Spacer decals will also be installed throughout the Delaware Art Museum.

The Creative Spacers Project pilot was made possible with support from Spur Impact. This project is supported, in part, by a grant from the Delaware Division of the Arts, a state agency, in partnership with the National Endowment for the Arts. The Division promotes Delaware arts events on www.DelawareScene.com.

Please contact Cynthia Smith, Marketing Manager, at csmith@delart.org or 302-351-8514.

For over 100 years, the Museum has served as a primary arts and cultural institution in Delaware. It is alive with experiences, discoveries, and activities to connect people with art and with each other. Originally created in 1912 to honor the renowned illustrator and Wilmington-native, Howard Pyle, the Museum’s collection has grown to over 12,000 works of art in our building and sculpture garden. Also recognized for British Pre-Raphaelite art, the Museum is home to the largest and most important Pre-Raphaelite collection outside of the United Kingdom and a growing collection of significant contemporary art. Embracing all disciplines, the Museum’s Performance Series ranges from concerts by Pyxis Piano Quartet, resident ensemble of over ten years, to cutting-edge, multi-disciplinary artists committed to social justice and pushing the boundaries of artistic practice.

Under the leadership of our Board of Trustees, the Delaware Art Museum is implementing a comprehensive approach to community and civic engagement. This exciting new strategic direction requires that we increase our value and relevance to all audiences.

New acquisitions represent the Museum’s focus on collecting work by women and artists of color

The Delaware Art Museum is delighted to announce recent purchases of art by women artists and artists of color. This spring, the Museum purchased a series of prints by Hank Willis Thomas, an 1871 oil painting by Robert Duncanson, and a 1940 poster by Robert Pious.

These three recent purchases reflect the Museum’s continued effort to collect more art by women artists and artists of color. In 2018, the Museum purchased 24 works of art, of which one-third were created by women and one-third were created by African American artists. In total, 74 percent of acquisition funds spent in 2018 went toward acquiring works by women artists and artists of color.

“It is particularly exciting to acquire as we plan for the reinstallation of several permanent collection galleries in 2020,” explains Heather Campbell Coyle, Chief Curator and Curator of American Art. “These works will allow us to share a more inclusive and exciting story of art and artists with our community.”

Hank Willis Thomas’ Black Survival Guide, or How to Live Through a Police Riot (2018) is the Museum’s first major purchase of 2019. Commissioned by the Museum and on view during the summer of 2018, the work is a series of 13 retroreflective screen prints based on photographs from The News Journal and a booklet in the collection of the Delaware Historical Society. Black Survival Guide, or How to Live Through a Police Riot became a catalyst for dialogue during the city-wide reflection on the 1968 occupation of Wilmington by the National Guard.

“Museum visitors overwhelmingly shared their enthusiasm for the project and love of the screen prints,” shares Margaret Winslow, Curator of Contemporary Art. “We are thrilled that this series will remain in the city.” Once installed, these prints will be added to the Museum’s new Social Justice in Art Tour for local students.

In October, 2018, the Delaware Art Museum acquired Chakaia Booker’s One Way (2008) for its contemporary collection. The large-scale sculpture was installed in the Museum’s Copeland Sculpture Garden to align with the mid-October opening of the Juried Craft Exhibition. Made of recycled tires and stainless steel, One Way is the first artwork by an African American artist added to the Museum’s sculpture garden. Chakaia Booker is best known for sculptures made of discarded materials–most often recycled tires. Her art explores race, globalization, feminism, and ecology. The interconnecting circles in One Way depict movement and perpetual cycles, and the sculpture conveys her concerns about diversity, mobility, and hope. This significant addition also supports the Museum’s ability to showcase the diversity in process, materials, and interests occupying contemporary art today. The contemporary collection also welcomed gifts of work by Charles Burwell and Curlee Raven Holton.

As well as adding to the contemporary collections, the Delaware Art Museum continued the strategic expansion of its collection of modern art by African American artists with purchases of work by Loïs Mailou Jones, Hughie Lee-Smith, William Majors, and James A. Porter. These works add strength to a collection that already features paintings and prints by Beauford Delaney, Aaron Douglas, Jacob Lawrence, and Norman Lewis. Produced between the 1940s and the 1960s, these works provide context for the early career of beloved local painter Edward Loper, Sr., which is well represented in the Wilmington region. Paintings by Loper, Sr., and his son Edward Loper, Jr., launched the Museum’s Distinguished Artists Series this spring.

In addition to these works by artists of color, the Museum has focused on acquiring more art by women. Recent exhibitions on British Pre-Raphaelite artists Marie Spartali Stillman and Barbara Bodichon have benefitted from key purchases in years past. In 2018, the Museum added collections of work by American illustrators Laura Coombs Hills and Rose O’Neill via purchase and gift. O’Neill, who previously had just one work of art in the Museum’s collection, was a successful book and magazine illustrator, best known as the inventor of the Kewpies, cupid-like characters who started life in a 1909 cartoon in the Ladies’ Home Journal and soon launched into popular culture as dolls, books, and other licensed merchandise. The Kewpie enterprise, which only began to wane toward the end of the 1930s, made O’Neill an independently wealthy woman. Illustration was an important career path for women and this is central to the story of the Delaware Art Museum.

About the Delaware Art Museum

For over 100 years, the Museum has served as a primary arts and cultural institution in Delaware. It is alive with experiences, discoveries, and activities to connect people with art and with each other. Originally created in 1912 to honor the renowned illustrator and Wilmington-native, Howard Pyle, the Museum’s collection has grown to over 12,000 works of art in our building and sculpture garden. Also recognized for British Pre-Raphaelite art, the Museum is home to the most comprehensive Pre-Raphaelite collection on display outside of the United Kingdom, and a growing collection of significant contemporary art.

Under the leadership of our Board of Trustees, the Delaware Art Museum is implementing a comprehensive approach to community and civic engagement. This exciting new strategic direction requires that we increase our value and relevance to all audiences. Visit delart.org to for the latest exhibitions, programs, and performances or connect with us via social media.

The more things change, the more they stay the same.
Jean-Baptiste Alphonse Karr (1808–1890)

In 1909, Gayle Hoskins created the frontispiece for Elizabeth Dejeans’ novel The Winning Chance. The story centers on 19-year-old Janet Carew (left), who must work to support her impoverished family. She becomes a typist for older, prosperous, married stockbroker Leo Varek (left). Before long, he makes his predatory advance, telling her that if she succumbs he will ensure her family’s welfare. Janet has already resigned other positions after resisting similar abuse. She had hoped that this job would be different.

Hoskins captures Janet’s fear after she has rebuffed Leo’s demand. She shrinks back as her enraged employer thrusts out his chest in a threat just short of a physical attack. The tiger rug with the animal’s bared fangs is a perfect symbol for the sinister boss. The center point of the composition is two clenched fists, hers in fear and his in anger, almost meeting at the juncture of her white sleeve and his white shirt in the darkened room.

Eventually, to save her family from ruin, the worn-down Janet enters into a loveless relationship as Leo’s mistress, until she leaves to marry a man of her choosing. In a moralistic ending typical of early 20th-century popular novels, her departure causes Leo a crisis of conscience and he commits suicide. The now happy and secure Janet forgives him on his deathbed.

Dejeans (born Elizabeth Janes) considered the subject of The Winning Chance, her first novel, sufficiently controversial that she published it under a pen name. At a time when sexual matters were rarely alluded to, much less discussed, one reviewer explained her choice: “the radical character of [the book made it] probable that staid relatives might be discomforted to find themselves allied to the author.”[1]

When Lippincott, the book’s publisher, advertised the novel with the phrase “the big problem of the American girl,” a writer in the American Journal of Nursing, published primarily by and for women professionals, noted that the subject was more properly “the problem of the American man.” Leo believes “in his monumental selfishness…in his right to sacrifice the girl because she is defenseless and in his power.” Janet’s final escape gives her “the privilege which has universally been accorded to men but thitherto denied to women.” The review closes with regret that the book “will not be read by business men” who might be pressed to examine and explain their own behavior in such situations.[2]

Other reviewers ranged from forceful to pleasant. Edwin Markham, the poet and voice for labor justice, noted that the plot “involves one of the deepest and darkest tragedies of civilization—a tragedy that should arouse a nation to action.”[3] Some commentators praised the human interest aspects of the book. Unsympathetic authors believed that Janet should have resisted Leo at all costs. Others regarded her with compassion. Some felt that Leo’s ultimate suffering redeemed him somewhat.

Hoskins chose to illustrate a pivotal scene, one that exemplifies the turning point of the novel. A casual viewer—even one just glancing at the cover in a bookstore—would apprehend the plot. Intense emotions, telling poses, and dramatic lighting crystallize the fateful confrontation. It’s no wonder that Lippincott promoted Hoskins’ “colored frontispiece” in its advertising for the book. The image also appeared on the cover of some editions.

Mary F. Holahan
Curator of Illustration

Top image: Facing each other at last, the girl white, shaking, her eyes aflame, 1909. Cover and frontispiece for The Winning Chance by Elizabeth Dejeans (Philadelphia: J.B. Lippincott Co., 1909). Gayle Porter Hoskins (1887–1962). Oil on canvas, 36 x 24 1/2 inches. Delaware Art Museum, Acquired by exchange, 1971.

[1] “Book Reviews and Notes,” The Oriental Economic Review, vol. III (July–August 1913), 629.
[2] The American Journal of Nursing. vol. 10 (November 1909), 138–139.
[3] Advertising section in The Far Triumph by Elizabeth Dejeans (Philadelphia: J.B. Lippincott, 1909), 377.