A local art contest gave students an opportunity to express love for their pets through painting and drawing. Produced by Ralph Musthaler
Only one year in the making, Dewey Artist Collaboration has a young, vivacious vibe where all ages, backgrounds and art abilities make up the talents of this eager group that has grand plans to change things up in the community by empowering business, residents and visitors through art.
They are infusing creativity with DIY nights, fundraisers, community outreach and more.
Leah Beach, founder of the collaboration, says this group is not your ordinary arts organization.
Being the new kid on the block in the arts community that is currently celebrating one year of establishing the Dewey Artist Collaboration (DAC), what were some initial challenges you faced and what is one major goal you plan to set out to achieve?
Initially, I think by having a lot of events at breweries, many of the more refined artists did not really take us very seriously.
A friend who works closely with us who owns a gallery told me that some people think we just "drink beer and make stuff,” which initially was a little upsetting. However, we decided it was a pretty good title and turned it into a hashtag for us.
Once we started partnering with other organizations and showing a more refined artistic flow and bringing on so many different artists, I think people with those thoughts had a change of heart. DAC is not for everyone, but we love to embrace that we are different.
Our major goal is to connect artists and the community in an innovative way. We have quite a few goals, but that is really the overarching broad goal and the tactics for that have led to so many creative events, community outreach projects, DIY nights and classes, a building that is 100 percent dedicated to our artists and our creative community.
Plus, we have a few more tricks up our sleeve. We have had a big ambition since day one and that has not changed.
Businesses, residents and visitors strongly support the arts throughout the Delmarva area where there are a wide range of established organizations, some well-known as well. What do you believe is a unique aspect of DAC that will draw attention to what you are doing in the community?
We had some great advice when we first started from Shelia Bravo who is the executive director of Delaware Alliance for Non-profit Advancement. She told us we need to find what made us different. It did not take us long to discover that we are a community arts organization.
Some of our artistic neighbors (creative partners) we consider as artist development organizations dedicated to developing artists' careers, which is super important. Without them we would not have a well-rounded potential for an artistic future in Sussex County.
We are all about partnering our artists with the community in tons of different ways to not only grow the careers of our artists, but create all sorts of incredible opportunities, activities, and art therapy for our neighbors.
Our co-op artists have to dedicate a certain amount of community hours a month in order to get awesome perks like studio space, marketing and brand building, printing, communal tool use, etc.
All of our artists have options of volunteering in exchange for services and opportunity. It was tough at first for us to find our identity, but we believe we are getting there.
Dewey is a place that is known for welcoming dogs; it is a very pet-friendly town. Accordingly, DAC recently hosted a Pet Lovers DIY Night at a local restaurant where pet owners made a dog leash or cat scratch post. Do you plan to have similar DIY “functional art” outings and if so, can you name a few upcoming ones and if registration is required and a fee?
Our DIY's are dedicated to creating practical, creative items from bottle openers to dog leashes, but also wooden signs and succulent gardens.
We are trying out different DIY projects because when we are ready to open our warehouse space we will be offering a full DIY menu every week.
Patrons can come in with a group of people and everyone does something different with step-by-step instructions where our artists are there to guide you along the way.
It is a super cool innovative thing we are trying to work into our programs and plan to continue partnering with restaurants, breweries, bridal showers, sororities, and much more.
DAC has an exhibit at Camp Rehoboth through Feb. 24 featuring the theme, “Empower – Art That Can Inspire Change!” How many artists are showcasing their works and what are ways they have brought change through their art?
We have 12 artists on display at CAMP.
I think something like this is making our artists who participate in these type of events to not think as much about creative artwork for the masses with the mission to sell and instead take some time to create something for themselves.
The idea was for them to empower themselves through their creative vision, and how that would in turn empower the viewer.
Can we plan on seeing you out and about at the many festivals throughout the area?
We have a pretty insane 2018 coming up. Right now we have so many opportunities that we have to prioritize everything and figure out how not to spread ourselves too thin.
We had a successful event called Taco Mania last September that was all about tacos, margaritas and art. The community loved it. We wanted to match that with an event in the spring with the idea of it being a fundraiser for us, but all about the complete opposite.
It is "Spring Cleaning for the Mind, Body, and Soul.” It will be at Big Chill Beach Club. Stay tuned.
We also totally plan to be at events like Dewey Arts Fest and many more while partnering with some great organizations to bring some color to more great Sussex County events.
What is one thing you like about being affiliated with Dewey and the art scene?
I love that Dewey really does not have a real defined art scene.
I have been told it is a "cultureless town” which I totally disagree with. I am a full-time resident of Dewey Beach. I bartend and have gotten to know people who have grown up here and who have helped to create the real culture of this town.
I believe what we lack is paint on the streets. We had the privilege to work with the town of Dewey Beach over the last year and have had so much love and support from the town.
Although the town has had some big changes and differences in the last year, they have been nothing but supportive and optimistic about our future and as they start to settle into their changes, we are looking forward to working with them to put our creative touch on Dewey.
We fully plan to keep our Dewey brand regardless of where our address is.
IF YOU GO
Empowerment – Art that can inspire Change exhibit by DAC
Where: Camp Rehoboth, 37 Baltimore Ave., Rehoboth Beach
When: Through Feb. 24
Info: https://www.facebook.com/deweyartistcollab/ or firstname.lastname@example.org