The start of the annual Rehoboth Beach Independent Film Festival, which runs Nov. 2–12, demonstrates that a love of the arts is alive and well at the beach.
For more recent proof, consider the Dewey Artist Collaboration, which on Oct. 21 held the grand opening of its arts co-op in West Rehoboth. Founder and president Leah Beach is a local mural and chalkboard artist whose work graces such restaurants at Egg, The Starboard, the Crooked Hammock Brewery, Michy’s Relaxed Dining and Bethany Blues in Lewes. Beach, who has an associate of fine arts with a concentration in photography, since 2011 has been traveling to such locales as Africa, Central America and Asia to photograph people living with dementia. Her work has been profiled on BBC News, and the photographs have been used for studies and awareness.
“I’ve really discovered my passion to help other people with my artistic vision,” she says. Part of that mission includes the founding of the Dewey Artist Collaboration as an arts movement. The nonprofit group now has about 36 members. We talked to her about the DAC. (The interview below has been edited.)
It started after I returned form Africa where I was doing some outreach programs and working on my dementia project. I met some wonderful souls who got me involved with doing artwork at skimboarding competitions. I came together with Amanda Pace and Gel Clemmer. Meeting them fueled my fire. Amanda and I created the Dewey Beach Holiday Sip & Shop in 2015, which is held on Black Friday and Small Business Saturday at The Starboard. (This year the event is on Nov. 24 and Nov. 25.) After our success, I realized that are some hungry emerging artists who want more opportunities like Sip & Shop. So I thought: “Why not see what else we can do?”
We have a little bit of everything, from glassblowers to jewelry-makers, painters, sculptors, photographers, brewers, pastry artists—if you can create something with your hands, we have a place for you.
We have artists from all walks of life at all ages and skill levels with different backgrounds. We welcome anyone, whether art is a hobby or profession. We invest in the development of up-and-coming artists and provide opportunities for established artists. We invest in people who want to give back and generate creative options for themselves and their community. From artists to just people who like art, we are a community arts organization. Our demographic is our community.
This year, it’s about connecting artists with the community through creative arts events—large-scale and small-scale. Next year, if we can, we would like to integrate after-school programs and programs to give artists a chance to volunteer their time in return for showing their work. We are going to integrate our work into local restaurants, cafes and businesses for a rotating gallery program. Starting Dec. 1, our Arts Co-Op will have space for three artist studio spaces as well as workshop space for classes and parties. We have a few other tricks up our sleeve, but now isn’t the time to share.
In November and December, the Dewey Artist Collaboration’s Art Co-Op will be open for select hours for holiday shopping. The DAC will again hold the Dewey Beach Holiday Sip & Shop at The Starboard on Nov. 24 and Nov. 25. For more information, visit the Facebook page.