The Art of Living

Kent County proves a great place to be an artist.

The arts add value to our lives. They are a song that ties a special moment for a father and daughter, the mood of an event or place captured in oil paints, or a life event symbolized in a special piece of jewelry. Art gives people common ground, as well as a jumping off place for other discussions. It’s an indication of the health of a community.

Kent County is quite healthy. The arts are an important part of the growth and development of the area. Three artists—jeweler Arden Bardol, musician Sol Knopf and painter Ludovic Bezy—are perfect examples. They may approach their crafts differently, but they are able to pull out common thoughts and themes that make people stop a little, think a little and smile a little. 

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If art is a shared experience, a form of communication, Kent County has a great story to tell.

Arden Bardol

Arden Bardol finds inspiration for her jewelry designs everywhere—in a child’s needlepoint sampler, the petals of a flower, bolts and braces on a bridge, even in the cogs of a watch’s works. 

“I love the structure,” says Bardol, an award-winning jewelry designer  and architect based in Dover. Her studio is named art-ture (pronounced archer) reflecting the blending of art and architecture in her jewelry. Each piece is made from polymer clay mixed with materials such as metal powders to create unique colors and patterns that are then molded into exotic designs. 

Walking into her studio is like walking into a magical garden where construction and nature joined to create totally new, yet still vaguely recognizable flowers, sticks, stones—even dragonfly wings. The cerulean and periwinkle blues, asparagus and apple greens, chocolates and bronzes, blacks and whites all vie for attention in different pieces. New details emerge the longer a person views them. 

“Each piece is finished, a complete thought,” says Bardol. No matter which way a bead or design is turned, there is something new to see. “All sides are created equal.”

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The stories behind her jewelry are as fascinating as the finished pieces. Her Connections Series is a perfect example. These necklaces and earrings have what Bardol calls “feature beads.” Each bead represents a major event, inspiration or doubt in life, she says. The beads have two sides—one round, one square—to show how every event in life has two sides. The necklaces in the series each have an open loop because everyone’s life has a pivotal event that opens a person up, sends her spinning around for a time, then gets her back on path. “It’s all about discovery,” Bardol says. “I like people to be fascinated.”

You can find Bardol’s work at Beyond Dimensions in Dover and Gallery 37 in Milford. Artful Home also carries an exclusive line of her jewelry online. 

Ludovic Bezy

Ask Ludovic Bezy for a recipe and you’ll probably get a painting. Food and art are interchangeable expressions of creativity for this chef and artist. 

Drawing a recipe takes five minutes. Writing one out would take all day, jokes Bezy, executive chef at Michele’s Restaurant at Dover Downs. He’s been cooking since he was a 13-year-old high school student in Champagne, France. Food is one of his loves. His artwork is his passion. Any money he makes selling his work just goes back into buying more paint and canvas, he says.

His house in Camden is a giant showroom, with paintings of fish and flowers hanging in every room, landscapes stacked against walls, even a still life used as a gate in a doorway. His paintings are representations of where his mind is at the time, he says. His blue cow, stylized chicken and plates of vegetables seem to vibrate with lines of color, showing that his mind must be a lively, colorful place that isn’t bothered by having to make exact replicas of objects. 

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His favorite medium is oil. He likes to complete a painting in one sitting, often using just one brush to layer color, texture and movement onto the canvas. He puts his head down to start a painting. When he looks, four hours have passed and his painting is finished. 

Though food is one of his favorite subjects, he’s recently taken an interest in landscapes, especially local scenes, which he likes to paint en plein air. He enjoys interacting with people while he paints that way, he says. 

To see more of Bezy’s work, go to his website.

Sol Knopf

Want to stump Sol Knopf? Ask him what his musical style is.

After 33 years as one of Delaware’s favorite singer-songwriters, narrowing his work down to one style is just too difficult, he says. The only thing he will commit to is that he’s definitely “not stone cold old school country.” Other than that, he’s pretty wide open.

Country, pop, Motown, easy listening with a country flair, and storytelling singer are all part of Knopf’s self description. So is a vocal quality like Neil Diamond or Cat Stevens and influences from the Eagles. His concerts are danceable mixes of his own music with covers of songs from the past 40 years, all sung in a soulful baritone. His broad appeal is why he’s such a great entertainer and keeps a schedule of more than 200 gigs a year booked months ahead. 

In fact, the appeal is international. His 2013 tune “My Baby Girl” is a favorite father-daughter wedding dance song. From as far as Japan and Sweden, fathers and daughters send videos of themselves dancing all the time. In September 2015, Knopf was flown to California to sing it as a theme song for the Million Father March.

“There have been many passing fads in our industry, but we are always in need of great songwriting,” says Jim Salmon, a Grammy-nominated producer with Cambridge Sound Studios in Philadelphia. “Sol is a great songwriter.”

Knopf is not finished yet. He has several songs circulating around Nashville, and he’s getting some interest from big-name producers. He’s never had a big record company contract, but he’s sure it’s only a matter of time before he does. “I’m a pretty determined guy,” he says.

Ludovic Bezy (from left), Arden Bardol and Sol Knopf
are perfect examples of Kent County’s thriving arts scene.
(Photo by Luigi Ciuffetelli) 

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