One might consider the Rehoboth Art League (RAL) to be the “Grand Dame” of art leagues in the region. It was formed in 1938 and is nestled in Henlopen Acres, a residential community on the northern fringe of Rehoboth Beach. Why? To create a place where artists could teach, gather, and exhibit their work. Benefactors Lose Corkran and Colonel Wilbur Corkran donated their 3.5-acre property to provide the organization a home.
RAL’s 1,000-plus members live in various parts of Sussex County and beyond. Annually, the organization offers more than 150 classes and holds more than 20 solo and group artwork exhibitions. RAL also produces special events including the Jewelry Trunk Show, the Holiday Fair, the Annual Cottage Tour, and Outdoor Fine Art Show—all of which brings close to 15,000 people to its campus. In 2021, RAL collaborated with the City of Rehoboth Beach to launch the Rehoboth Arts Festival that takes place during May in Grove Park. RAL staff and volunteers reach out to reach underserved communities across Southern Delaware with exhibitions and arts education opportunities.
Milford’s Mispilion Art League is more like a sassy grandchild. It was founded in 2004 by a cadre of teachers and artists who, according to its mission, had a love for visual arts and wanted to both share their knowledge and provide opportunities for the community to make art.
True to that description, its web site proclaims “The Mispillion Art League welcomes artists, aspiring artists, and anyone who loves art and believes in its power to enrich all members of the community.
It’s a more informal group, and unlike RAL’s rural environment, Mispillion is smack in the epicenter of Milford’s burgeoning cultural arts district. With only one paid staff person, the league’s 350 members pour their hearts and souls into servicing the community and maintaining the energy of the League. It, too, has its share of classes for children and adults plus special events such as Jerry’s Artarama, the yART SALE and the 6X6 Silent Auction. Mispillion is a vibrant part of Milford’s renaissance.
Oddly enough, even though numerous esteemed local artists live or work in Lewes, the First Town in the First State has no formal art league. Rather, the artists in and around the community band together each September to stage the Lewes Artists Studio Tour (10/17/22) to show their wares as a group. It’s a drive your car tour to various artists’ studios and a full day event worth putting on the calendar. The Cape Artists Gallery, in downtown Lewes, showcases local artists who belong to the Gallery. The Peninsula Gallery may be one of the premier galleries in Delmarva. It’s constantly rotating exhibits allows it to display a wide range of talents in the coastal towns.
Wedged in between Lewes and Milford, the town of Milton has its own Art Guild (MAL) located on Federal Street. It’s really more of a gallery but a variety of art classes are taught on the premises where members can display their creativity. This may be characterized as more of a “downhome” group. Probably one that is very low key for those who are interested in being introduced to the arts.
More on Delaware’s Arts Community and the up-start Developing Artists Community coming soon!
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.