Coastal residents might recognize Michael Sprouse as the host of “Coastal Cuisine” and “The A&E Report,” weekly television shows that run on WRDE, Delmarva’s NBC station. He’s also the host of “Coastal A&E,” a live Saturday morning radio show on Delaware 105.9.
But they may not realize that he’s also a self-taught artist.
A native of Bowling Green, Kentucky, Sprouse says his distinctive style was influenced by a PBS show hosted by silent screen star Lillian Gish. “I would sneak down to watch these old movies at night—I loved the way the actresses looked,” Sprouse says. Tight close-ups focused on their big, expressive eyes.
Courtesy of Michael Sprouse
As an artist, he initially painted abstract designs until his sister-in-law, also an artist, noted that he was always drawing women’s faces, so why not paint them? His “emotive portraits” were a hit at a 1994 show.
While painting, Sprouse worked at restaurants in Washington, D.C., doing everything from waiting tables to bartending to managing. He co-owned a gallery, which suffered in the wake of 9/11 as tourism to the U.S. capital plummeted. He moved to Delaware in 2002 and founded Twinfin Media, which produces his television and radio shows.
The programs, which include on-site visits to restaurants and cultural attractions, have been taking him away from his studio, he acknowledges. In part, he credits the busy restaurant scene. “There’s a culture of celebrating food here—and drink,” he says.
The craft-brewery boom, he predicts, isn’t going away anytime soon. And he’s enthusiastic about the openings of ethnic restaurants, including an Indian spot in downtown Rehoboth, and the growth of the industry in towns like Milton and Milford.
He especially appreciates the friendly spirit of collaboration between local brewers, chefs and other industry professionals—which will be on full display at the Southern Delaware Wine, Food, Music Festival (SoDel Fest), scheduled for Saturday, Sept. 29, at Independence in Millsboro. â€‹
Sprouse himself will be in attendance, serving as the master of ceremonies for a live cook-off, and donating a painting for the event’s silent auction, which will benefit Boys & Girls Clubs of Delaware and Children & Families First.