Artistry of Note in Milford’s Art District

Murals along the Salvation Army facility showing Milford’s history

Yes, the beach towns of Bethany, Rehoboth and Lewes all have stellar reputations for support and display of the arts. And although it might not really be considered a “beach town”, Milford has growing attractions of its own, considering its rich cultural arts line-up that includes the Mispillion Art League, Gallery 37 (multiple year winner of “Best Gallery in Delaware”), the Milford Museum, the Studios and Shops on Park Avenue, a myriad of antique shops, the Riverfront Theater, the Music School of Delaware and at least three Academies of Dance. Your first clue will be the six large murals adorning the street side of the town’s Salvation Army facility. Scenes depict some of the landmarks and highlights of Milford’s history.  

The town straddles two of Delaware’s three counties – Kent and Sussex. One can truly say “A River Runs Through’ since the Mispillion River cuts right through the heart of town and defines the borders. Milford’s slogan is River Town, Art Town, Home Town. Historic downtown is dotted with coffee shops, cozy restaurants and upscale boutiques. The River Walk is delightful.  

Downtown’s Mispillion Art Gallery is right in the mix of the arts scene. It would be challenging to find a more enthusiastic group of artists who simply love making creative treasures and sharing their talents. Cathy Walls, who works with pastels, was one of the founders of the Mispillion Art League. “The inspiration came from a group made up of artists and teachers who came together and started the league in 2004”, she says. Walls, and colleague Mimi Galligan, who works in and teaches pottery, both bubble with energy and spirit when talking about the League that is run primarily by volunteers like Walls and Galligan, 

The League’s spacious and bright classroom building hosts classes in pottery, watercolors, jewelry making, pastels, drawing, acrylics and oils, fibers, and more. Some programs are geared toward seniors and others with children or teens in mind.  

MAG’s lone part-time staffer Sonya Frey keeps on top of the league’s activities and events many of which are fundraisers. The 6X6 Silent Auction, the fourth annual yART Sale and something called Jerry’s Artarama are spring and summer offerings and the gallery is hosting eight exhibits this year. The current one is called “Letting in the Light.” A number of skilled artists are on display.  

Gallery 37 is across the street from the Mispillion Art League. Its bright multi-colored exterior is a welcoming entrance to an eclectic array of art and sculpture including works by one of Ruth Bader Ginsberg’s favorite artists.  

Downtown Milford Incorporated (DMI) is another volunteer driven community organization that “promotes the quality development of the traditional central business district of Milford, DE to preserve the area’s rich historic heritage and bring new life and purpose to the downtown area”, according to its mission statement.  

Coming up April 30 from 9 am to 4 pm is the Bug and Bud Festival, an event that give children and adults an excuse to dress up in costumes. Curiously, the Ladybug is Delaware’s state bug. According to information provided by DMI, “This year the ladybugs and trees have graciously invited the bees, butterflies and flowers to join in the parade as a show of springtime solidarity!” Arts and crafts vendors will line the streets.  

The Ladybug Music Festival celebrates women in music during September and DMI organizes a number of other events to keep downtown vibrant.  

Milford, with a rich history, is one of those “come back” towns and at one time enjoyed a robust shipyard industry. Now, it is reinventing itself as an energetic tourist mecca. Make sure you make time to see what all the buzz is about!

 


By Mary Jo Tarallo, Guest Journalist

Mary Jo Tarallo spent much of her career in public relations with various non-profits and spent 40 years involved with the ski industry as a journalist, public relations director for a national trade association and as executive director of the Learn to Ski and Snowboard initiative. Prior to her ski industry involvement she worked for the Maryland International Center in Baltimore and United Way of Central Maryland. She won a Gold Award for TV programming for a United Way simulcast that starred Ophrah Winfrey. She has been cited for her work by numerous organizations. Mary Jo grew up in Baltimore, attended the University of Maryland and Towson University, lived in Washington, DC for 21 years and has been a full time resident of Rehoboth Beach and Milton since May 2019.  

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