Art gallery opening downtown

By Lynn R. Parks

Jolene Tennefoss, who has been painting for about 20 years, has never had any of her works in a gallery. On Saturday, her four older sisters, all of whom live in Ohio, will travel to Delaware for the grand opening of Gallery 107 in downtown Seaford, where for the first time, Tennefoss works will be on public display.

I just think that its so awesome to have a gallery here, said Tennefoss, who lives in Greenwood. Everyplace I go, whether in a city or a small country town, I always look for the art gallery.

Tennefoss daughter Julianna, 20, will also have her paintings on display. And neither one cares much whether any of the works sell. Thats secondary, said Jolene. Just being a part of this and being around people with the same regard for art is really awesome.

Gallery 107, at 107 Pine St., is the new home of the Nanticoke River Arts Council and the only art gallery in western Sussex County. We want to expand the local arts scene, to get people to realize that they dont have to leave Seaford to see art, said Chris Darby, arts council president.

The gallery could also be a catalyst for growth in the downtown area, said arts council member and artist Tammy Kearney. I would love for this to be the start of a downtown revitalization, she said.

The 500-square foot gallery has three rooms, all freshly painting and fitted with track lighting and strips from which to hang paintings. Money for the renovation and to enable the arts council to sign a one-year lease on the building came from an anonymous donor. The council also received a $1,000 donation from the Sussex County Council, its second donation from the council. The first, in 2008, helped the arts council get registered as a non-profit organization.

The two front rooms will be used for displays of works by the arts councils 20 artist members as well as by guest artists. The works will change regularly and each month, the gallery will feature works by one artist.

As for the third, back room, arts council members are hoping to be able to offer art lessons to children of the area.

How often they will be offered, how much they will cost and what age children will be welcome are all things that have yet to be decided, said Darby.

But all of the members agree that providing something for children is vitally important. Children are our art advocates of the future, Darby said.

Like Tennefoss, wood carver Bob Larkin, Seaford, has never marketed his works. Im curious to see how people will react to it, he said. Diana Bruni, of Seaford, started creating trees of crystal and acrylic beads two years ago, after making one for her daughters wedding. She too has never had her work on display. And like Larkin, shes anxious to see what people think of them.

But, she said, the gallery is about more than just getting her work before the public. This is a venue for people to come in and see the talent thats in our area, she said. Im astonished by what our people turn out. And without this gallery, it would all be hidden.

No two of our artists do the same thing, added arts council secretary Lisa Massey. It really blows my mind, seeing all the different things they come up with.

Kearney, who started painting in 1999 and is one of the founders of the Nanticoke River Arts Council, said that the new gallery is something that the arts council has been working toward for a long time.

To have a place where we can display our art on a regular basis, to have our meetings, just to get together and talk or paint, its a dream come true, she said.

For your information The Nanticoke River Arts Councils Gallery 107 at 107 Pine St., Seaford, will hold a grand opening Saturday, 5 to 8 p.m. After that, the gallery will be open Thursdays, 1 to 6 p.m., Fridays, 1 to 4 p.m., and Saturdays, 10 a.m. to 4 p.m. For information, call arts council president Chris Darby, 629-4321. Info is also available on the arts councils Facebook page.

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