Music, Sculpture, Film, Literature: Outstanding Delaware Artists Honored, Showcased

Kevin Bielicki – Entwine, 2017, poplar and mahogany wood. Photo courtesy Delaware Division of Arts.

Lauren E. Peters’ vivid oil paintings grab the eye, a compelling mix of color and depth. The north Wilmington resident is just one of Delaware’s leading artists selected to take part in the prestigious Award Winners Exhibition, which makes its way to Wilmington this weekend. 

The Delaware Division of the Arts (DDOA) reviewed 124 work samples from Delaware’s best artists — choreographers, composers, musicians, writers, folk and visual artists. Only 14% of these artists were selected for Delaware’s Individual Artist Fellowships, which recognize artists for their outstanding quality of work.

Lauren Peters, self-portrait. Photo by Joe del Tufo.

Peters received an Emerging Artist Award for Visual Arts: Painting, and said the honor helped build confidence in her skills as a “serious artist.”

“I didn’t go into painting self-portraits thinking they’d be all that popular. It was something I knew I’d like doing, and whenever I’d be able to show them would be great,” said Peters.

“Thanks to this fellowship, I have been able to really, fully commit to being an artist. I always thought I’d start painting again someday, like something I’d do on the side, but this really pushed me to give it everything I’ve got.”

In addition to public acknowledgment and exposure to their work, these 17 artists were provided monetary awards ranging from $3,000 to $10,000 to support their creative careers.

The DDOA then arranged for a statewide exhibition so people could see and enjoy their work. Following shows at the Biggs Museum of American Art in Dover and CAMP Rehoboth, the 2018 winners will conclude their whirlwind summer with a show at Cab Calloway School of the Arts in Wilmington from September 7 – 30.

A reception with the artists will take place Sept. 7 from 5 – 7 pm, as part of Wilmington’s Art on the Town (“art loop”). And after the opening party, the gallery will remain open during school office hours –  guests should first check in at the office.

Throughout the year (2018-2019), all of the award-winning visual artists will have featured exhibitions at the Mezzanine Gallery in the Carvel State Office Building in Wilmington. Thomas Del Porte will kick off the rotation with his works there through Sept 28.

Wilmingtonian Ryan Grover, Curator at Dover’s Biggs Museum of American Art, was tapped to curate the three-venue artist tour.

He says, “The DDOA’s annual fellowship competition, and the traveling exhibition that the Biggs creates with the work of the fellowship winners, is the best way to experience the wide array of artistic talent flourishing in our own backyards. For 18 years, there has been no better platform than the Award Winners exhibition for celebrating the literary, performing and visual artists of Delaware.”

The Cab Calloway exhibition includes not only visual arts award winners, but also literary and performing fellowship winners.

Ellen Durkan with model Jess Mcintern, photo by Joe Hoddinott.

Writers are represented with printed excerpts from their literary submissions as well as published and unpublished examples of their works in a reading area.

The musical, choreographer and video artist fellows submitted works that have been saved onto thumb drives and will play on two video screens within the exhibition. Their work will rotate on a loop that is motion activated.

While the selected fellows reside statewide, many are from New Castle County. Here are more local artists to watch for:

Thomas Del Porte’s Archaeology, 2016, oil on canvas. Artist’s website.

Lloyd Shorter, Masters award for Music: Solo Recital. Playing oboe since age ten, Shorter began pursuing chamber music—small ensemble music, one player to a part—in high school. He is now in his 46th season playing English horn and oboe (as member and soloist) with the Delaware Symphony. Shorter’s intention for his award includes more “compositions of my own with digital pedals and patches and live English horn/oboe inputs.”

Dennis Beach, Established Professional award for Visual Arts: Sculpture. Beach’s work features shaped wood and bright citrus colors. “I edit, simplify, and bring out the essential elements from the everyday observation of nature to create objects that combine the beauty and order that I mine from our natural world.”

Thomas Del Porte, Established Professional award for Visual Arts: Painting. Del Porte’s love of Van Gogh and Monet, and the influence of his mentor, Edward Loper, is evident in his oil paintings that reflect “a realism that stands on top of a thick textured world.”

Ellen Durkan’s Forged Fashion Series (3 pieces – skirt, top, and neckpiece), 2016, steel, leather

Ellen Durkan, Established Professional award for Visual Arts: Sculpture, stages fashion shows to display her art…but these are no little black dress parades. Durkan says, “I forge metal gates; I just put them on the human form.”

Durkan’s work can be seen at a special runway performance show at the Delaware Contemporary on September 29th. The two-person show will combine Durkan’s forged wearable steel with artist Shannah Warwick’s soft felted pieces. Women from ages 12-71 will walk the runway!

David P. Kozinski, Established Professional award for Literature: Poetry. “My writing style has not evolved in a straight line. It has been more like a series of stops on an archipelago, with some return visits.”

Lawrence Stomberg, Established Artist award for Music: Solo Recital. Stomberg is a cellist with influences such as Pablo Casals, Pierre Fournier and Yo-Yo Ma, who is also inspired by Sinatra, Ella Fitzgerald, classic R&B and Motown.

Joan Warburton-Phibbs, Established Professional award for Dance: Choreography. “I was always dancing and moving my body as a child. I could never sit still.”

Kevin Bielicki, Emerging Professional award for Visual Arts: Sculpture, builds large-scale pieces that invade the viewer’s plane, transforming wood and natural materials in his work. “Nature surrounds us; it is us, and it connects us to one another.”

Joyce Chen, Emerging Professional award for Music: Solo Recital, has a B.S. in mechanical engineering and a doctorate in harpsichord performance. Not surprisingly, she is interested in modern harpsichord work and will use her award to help pay for an instrument upgrade that will allow her to practice and play most harpsichord repertoire and experiment with various timbre options.

While studying engineering at the University of California at Berkeley, Joyce Chen joined the University Baroque Ensemble and fell in love with the harpsichord.

Jen Epler, Emerging Professional award for Literature: Fiction. Visit with her character, Mildred Goodhart, here.

Gemelle John, Emerging Professional award for Literature: Poetry. Her poem, “Love but a dry space,” can be viewed here.

Shannon Connor Winward, Emerging Professional award for Literature: Fiction. You can read an excerpt of her work here.

The fellowships’ financial awards allow artists to pursue advanced training, purchase equipment and materials, or fulfill other needs that will help advance their careers.

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About the Contributor

JulieAnne Cross

JulieAnne Cross

JulieAnne Cross has built a career around making her home state a fun place to live, working with restaurateurs, festivals, artists and arts organizations to bring people together for good times.