The Arts Buzz: A Blog about John McGiff at Gallery 919, The Brandywine Arts Festival, a free event at Delaware Art Museum, “Damn Yankees” at the New Candlelight Thetre and more

A Painter’s Painter

I will never forget interviewing John McGiff in the summer of 1999. Then, as now, he was an art teacher at St. Andrew’s School (though since elevated to co-chair of the arts department) who worked extra hard to get his students to experience the world in new ways. In a market on a field trip, he would ask the students to sample the olives, then instruct them to, “really taste the olive. What does it taste like?” Art was less about technical proficiency or talent than about experience. At the time, McGiff was mildly obsessed with experiencing the farms around Middletown before they were developed into big neighborhoods and strip malls, painting barns in various lights as Monet painted the cathedral at Chartres. At the same time, in the loft of the barn on his property, he painted self-referential dreamscapes in a totally different style. See his work this month at Gallery 919 Market In Wilmington. McGiff earned his masters of fine arts from the University of Pennsylvania and is a two-time fellowship recipient from the Delaware Division of the Arts. The Gallery 919 show will feature a variety of paintings, including recent works of Mt. Desert Island in Maine, and Bombay Hook Wildlife Refuge. An opening reception will be held Friday, Sept. 9, from 4:30 to 8 p.m. The show will run through Sept. 30. For more, call 229-3266.

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Partying on the Brandywine

Praise to Barry Schlecker for resurrecting the Brandywine Festival of the Arts. After sputtering for a year, he took over the event in 2010 and made it better than ever. Don’t miss it this weekend, Sept. 10-11, at Brandywine Park in Wilmington. Now more than 50 years old and placing among the best shows in the country, it features amazing works of art and fine craft by visiting artist and local favorites (like Larry Anderson, pictured). There’s music, food and more—but you’re going there to purchase a piece you’ll remember. Join 20,000 of your closest friends. Check it out at

When You Tire of the Festival…

Meet the Delaware Art Museum. From 11 a.m. till 3 p.m. on Sept. 10, admission is free. So are the cookies and coffee. Wander the labyrinth. Watch artists at work. And, if you’re a dog owner, take part in a special project in the sculpture garden. See how the museum is gearing up from the centenary of famous illustrator Howard Pyle’s death—which is the reason the museum exists. Learn more at

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Speaking of Pyle…

The Brandywine River Museum turns 40 this month, and it’s settling in to a ripe middle age with five special exhibitions and a giant party. Two exhibitions are worth special note. “N.C. Wyeth’s Treasure Island: Classic Illustrations for a Classic Tale” Sept. 10-Nov. 20 celebrates the 100th anniversary of the publication of Robert Louis Stevenson’s famous novel with N.C. Wyeth’s illustrations. “Honoring Howard Pyle: Major Works from the Collections” Sept. 17-Nov. 17 presents some of the paintings and drawings—pirates, legends from King Arthur, fairy tales and historical events—that made Pyle famous. It’s the first time these pieces have been reunited since they left his studio. For more, call (610) 388-2700, or see

Yankees Ingenuity

Nothing beats dinner and a show at The New Candlelight Theatre in Arden. Watch Joe Boyd make a deal with the devil to win a long ball hitter for his long-suffering Washington Senators in the musical “Damn Yankees” Sept. 16-Oct. 23. Call 475-2313, or visit

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Best of the Best

If you haven’t seen “Award Winners XI” at the Biggs Museum of American Art in Dover, why not see it now? “Award Winners” shows works by current fellows of the Delaware Division of the Arts—and the Biggs is the only place where you can see them all together—painters, sculptors, photographers, writers and more. Call 674-2111, or visit


Our Best of Delaware Elimination Ballot is open through February 22!

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