Volunteer Artistry Brings Special Glow to Museum Holiday Celebration

Each holiday season, a passionate group of Delaware Art Museum supporters get together to decorate the Rockford Park building as it gears up for a month-long celebration of the holiday season.

Over time, led by former Museum Council president Barbara Goetz, the group has explored and pushed their own artistic touch, fashioning increasingly innovative and sophisticated designs that themselves have become a gallery draw.

Imaginary use of two DuPont materials creates beautiful, reflective colors 

The handmade decorations have a distinctly local connection, as they are fashioned from two products made by the DuPont Company: Tyvek, the fully recyclable house wrapping material made of high-density polyethylene, and “satellite film,” a special transparent film used in space. The white Tyvek paper and film have been fashioned into beautiful lanterns and trees, reflecting an array of shimmering, lively colors.


According to Council member Becky Rosen, Goetz, a part-time floral designer at Centreville’s Wild Thyme flower shop, is the effort’s undisputed leader and inspiration.

“Barbara is the artist and we are all her assistants. The first year Barbara created the decorations all on her own. Each year since she’s built on the idea and it’s morphed into a total work of art.”

Rosen said the installation “requires a small army of worker bees” that include Goetz’s neighbors doing carpentry and electrical work. Each of the paper lanterns that dangle from the museum’s ceiling are equipped with low wattage lighting, lending a space-like feel to their appeal. Materials for this year’s installation were all donated by Goetz’s husband.

Vounteer Deb Horak said the decorations were an example of ‘upcycling.’ “The cutouts and trees are all waste ends from specialty cut commercial orders for DuPont Tyvek. So, we have transformed waste into art.”

Perhaps best of all is that the decorations, which fill the museum’s main foyer and serve as Christmas tree accents in some of the rooms, are absolutely free. Museum staff, who admire the work as another collection of art, call the decorations “priceless.”


Music, Family Events, Christmas Crafts and Shopping

The original decorations are only one of many holiday specials and programs museum visitors will encounter this month. The museum’s free Winter Arts Festival will return again on December 13 and 14th, featuring live music by local choirs and works for sale by notable local artisans (see below). And the museum’s monthly “Family 2nd Sundays” program for families with children up to 12 will take place on December 8 to include holiday-themed art-making activities.

And in the spirit of giving, the museum store will offer 10 percent off from December 2 to 8th.  

The museum will also host the Cartoon Christmas Trio, on Sunday, December 15 and Saturday, December 21. Assembled in 1995 by bassist Rob Swanson, the Trio’s sole focus is compositions from classic Christmas cartoons—particularly the music of Vince Guaraldi, composer of the “Peanuts” soundtracks.

The performance on Sunday, December 15 will include the Wilmington Children’s Chorus and a special performance by internationally renowned baritone Grant Youngblood, who will sing “You’re a Mean One, Mr. Grinch.” The performance on Saturday, December 21 will include the Tatnall Lower School Children’s Choir. Both performances start at 7:00 p.m. and are $10 per person (free for children ages 6 and under). Tickets are available online at delart.org.

Participating Winter Arts Festival Artisans:
  • Irina’s Original – Wearable Art
  • Anna Biggs Designs – Hand carved Gold and Silver Jewelry
  • John A. Styer – Turned Wood                 
  • Alley Cat Jewelry Studios – Handcrafted Beaded Jewelry                   
  • Mary Jardin Wimberly – Watercolor
  • Deborah Flanagan – Jewelry   
  • East Coast Sweets – Hand Crafted Artisan Chocolates  
  • Lara Ginzburg – Art Jewelry                    
  • Linda Majewski – Paper Botanicals       
  • Kara Hinson – Watercolor      
  • Arcus by Joy Smoker-Liedel – Handmade Jewelry      
  • Robert Jenkins – Watercolor
  • Angela Colasanti of VIELA Jewelry – Sterling Silver Jewelry     
  • Handmade Modern Accessories – Metal & Clay Jewelry, Alpaca Blend Knits, Cotton Sewn Goods                         
  • Taste Artisanal Market – Homemade spreads, honeys, and chutneys
  • Heather Ossandon – Pottery
  • Debbie Hegedus – Clay Pottery & Sculpture
  • Museum Council Makers – Handmade Holiday Gifts
  • The Museum Store will feature additional artists’ works including pieces by Distinguished Artist, Mitch Lyons.

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About the Contributor

Christy Fleming

Christy Fleming

The managing editor of TownSquareDelaware.com, Christy Fleming also supports a variety of non-profit initiatives in Delaware. Her background includes positions in public relations, advertising and journalism.