Go on an (Affordable) Art-Buying Binge!

Michelle Kramer-Fitzgerald

Just $25 gets you an original work

The Delaware Contemporary gives us all the chance to live an art collector’s life at its annual event, SABA IV, on Saturday, Nov. 17, 6-9 p.m. at the museum’s Riverfront-area location.  Dubbed a “Small Art-Buying Adventure,” the event is a large-scale exhibit of selected 6×6-inch works by artists from across the world.

So far, the event has acquired pieces from emerging artists from the West Coast, international artists from as far away as China, and established artists such as Ola Rondiak, Stan Smokler, Rick Rothrock, Nanci Hersh and Eddy Rhenals-Narvaez. In addition, there will be plenty of pieces from our local community’s talent. All artwork will be displayed anonymously until sold—and all will be available for sale to patrons at an exceptionally affordable sum of $25 apiece.

“Part of the excitement with SABA is that none of the work is revealed until the event, and it’s displayed anonymously, so you don’t know whose work you are buying until you literally take it off the wall,” days Delaware Contemporary Marketing Manager Tatiana Michels.

The event is capped off with live music from Milan and the Sour Goat, dinner by Drip Café and a cash bar. An exclusive Patron Preview begins at 6 p.m., serving complimentary champagne and hors d’oeuvres with the opportunity to preview and reserve one artwork choice before the Open Party, which begins at 7. Tickets for the Patron Preview are $100; Open Party tickets are $35 in advance or $40 at the door. All are available at decontemporary.org. 

“While all the works available during SABA are ‘unlabeled,’” says Michels, “we wanted to give patrons a sneak peek and acknowledge two participating artists in honor of the Contemporary’s 40th anniversary—Gina Bosworth and Rick Rothrock.

“Gina was our first executive board president and as one of our founding members, her presence has been instrumental in shaping the vision and direction of Wilmington’s art environment,” notes Michels.

In addition to helping establish The Delaware Contemporary in 1979, Bosworth owned and operated a business, Axis Fine Arts. She has exhibited regionally and nationally, with exhibitions at the Delaware Center for Horticulture, the Read-Johnson Gallery in Santa Fe, N.M., and the Delaware Art Museum. Bosworth has also been the recipient of the Delaware Division of the Arts Opportunity Fellowship and the Interweave Press Award for best in show at the Northern Colorado Exhibition.

Michels notes that Rick Rothrock spearheaded the development of an artist collaborative called the “ArtSquad” in the 1970s that created participatory, environmental art installations throughout the Wilmington area. Rothrock’s endeavor eventually led to the establishment of the Delaware Center for Contemporary Art (now The Delaware Contemporary). He went on to serve as the first acting director and remained on the board of directors for eight years. Since then, he has created public works for institutions across the nation.

Both Bosworth and Rothrock have or will have exhibits at the Contemporary this season as well. Bosworth’s, called “Confluence,” is running now through March. Rothrock’s joint exhibition with Stan Smokler, entitled “Origins,” will be on display Jan. 8 through April 21.

“We’re pleased to have had an incredible amount of donations from artists at all careers levels,” Michels says of the event. “The essence of SABA is that not only does it spark an interest in art collecting for those that may not know where to begin, it gives all artists equal opportunity to showcase their work in a museum setting.”

What’s more, Michels adds, the event’s timing and price is perfect for one-of-a-kind holiday gifts.

Photo courtesy of The Delaware Historical Society

Delaware in WWI Commemorated in Exhibit, Complemented with Music

The Delaware Historical Society’s (DHS) exhibit, The First State on the Front: WWI and the Road to Victorious Peace, memorializes the centennial of World War I while exploring Delawareans’ participation, experiences and sacrifices both in the war and on the home front.

Museum visitors will be transported back to 1917, as they explore attitudes toward the United States’ entry into World War I. Portions of the exhibit touch upon the experiences of African American soldiers, Delaware organizations and activities that supported the war effort and experiences of Delaware veterans after they returned home. It will also honor those who made the ultimate sacrifice.

To augment this exhibit—which includes notable artifacts like a soldier’s gear, letters, medals and wartime propaganda posters—the staff of DHS wanted to add another layer of interactivity, and Market Street Music’s Music Director David Schelat was happy to oblige.

“We were seeking a new avenue to serve the community demographically and artistically,” says Schelat. “This collaboration was the perfect solution—it makes available a free arts experience to a larger, more diverse audience, connects two distinct groups of existing patron bases, and provides an enhancement to a cultural program in our downtown footprint.”

The result is three dates (consecutive Thursdays, Nov. 1, 8 and 15, at 12:30 p.m.) during which Market Street Music will present complementary works from the era, featuring a new ensemble of performers and genres each week.

First up on Nov. 1 is University of Delaware flute and guitar duo Eileen Grycky and Christiaan Taggart. On Nov. 8, Delaware jazz favorite Sharon Sable is accompanied by multi-instrumentalist Shawn Qaissaunee. Finally, the Copeland String Quartet and local baritone star Grant Youngblood perform on Nov. 15.

How did the repertoire develop? Schelat first selected the perfect ensembles for this delightful and resonant space, then talked with DHS to pick the repertoire that fit the theme. “I think it will be great,” he says. “We’re covering everything from popular songs interpreted by songstress Sharon Sable, Debussy played by the wonderful Taggart-Grycky Duo, and the luscious songs of George Butterworth by the [Copeland String] Quartet and Youngblood.”

“Our intention is to arrange and perform songs we’ve chosen in a way that honors the emotion of those times,” says Sable of their Nov. 8 performance. “Shawn and I have chosen some beautifully honest and emotional pieces, as well as songs that provided some respite from the sadness of the war.”

Sable notes that it’s important to her to choose songs that she can connect with, and sometimes that means finding lesser-known music. “A lot of our repertoire is from The Great American Songbook, which is mostly from the post-WWI era. It’s been interesting to get a sense of what was happening in popular music pre-WWI and how it became a reflection of what was happening in the country.”

“DHS is particularly pleased [with this partnership], because coupling music from the era with this exhibit uniquely enhances our guests’ experience,” says Advancement Director Karen Kegelman.

Kegelman notes that popular music of the time helped Americans cope with the realities of wartime and helped to rally public support for the war effort. The “Tin Pan Alley” era produced patriotic tunes and ballads to cheer on the fighting men and tug at the heartstrings. Kegelman cites examples such as “Over There,” written by George M. Cohan and “My Sweetheart is Somewhere in France,” sung by Elizabeth Spencer, both from 1917.

“These songs, which captured the tragedy of the world at war, families separated, and loved ones lost, continue to resonate a century later,” says Kegelman.

Admission to the exhibits is free for Historical Society members, $6 for adults over 18, $5 for seniors/military/students, and $4 for children age 4-18. Admission is waived the first Friday of each month. Admission is free to all Thursday Noontime Concerts.

Kaia Kater. Photo Raez Argulla

A Canadian Import Rocks the Arden Stage

Arden continues to draw a broad spectrum of artists to its stage this season, this month welcoming Kaia Kater on Saturday, Nov. 3, at 8 p.m. Born in Québec of African-Caribbean descent, Kater’s banjo skills, jazz-fueled tones and skillful craft have garnered her accolades, like this from Rolling Stone: “…plaintive, mesmerizing…writes and performs with the skill of a folk-circuit veteran…”

Kater started her career early, releasing her EP Old Soul (2013) when she was just out of high school. Since then, she’s released two additional albums, Sorrow Bound (2015) and Nine Pin (2016), won a Canadian Folk Music Award and a Stingray Rising Star Award, and embarked on a tour from Ireland to Iowa, including stops at The Kennedy Center, Newport Folk Festival and Cambridge Folk Festival.

Kater is joined by Richie Stearns, a favorite banjo player of Arden, who performed previously with his band The Horse Flies. He has a new duo—Richie and Rosie—with the fabulous Rosie Newton. Stearns and Newton grew up 150 miles and a few decades apart. While both were raised by professional musicians, Stearns started banjo at 14 and Newton began classical piano at 8, moving to viola as a teen. Stearns’ family founded the iconic GrassRoots Festival of Music & Dance, and Newton, by her junior year of high school, was playing fiddle and touring with folk-rock band The Mammals. The two met at Saratoga Springs’ Flurry Festival—a meeting that ultimately sparked a friendship and musical bond.

Tickets for the performance are $12 for Arden Gild members and $15 for the public at Eventbrite.com.

In other breaking Concert Gild news: While the Sunday, Dec. 9, Lisa Loeb show has been long sold out, tickets are available for the popular annual performance by the Spring Standards, which makes a move from Boxing Day to Saturday, Dec. 29. And—this just in—fans can ring in 2019 on Dec. 31 with the David Bromberg Quintet. Better move fast on these two…they’re sure sell-outs!

Christina Cultural Arts Center Hosts Grammy-Nominated Jazz Pianist

Christina Cultural Arts Center continues its music series, Live @ Christina, on Friday, Nov. 2, at 7:30 p.m. in the intimate Clifford Brown Performance Center. The series welcomes the return to Wilmington of five-time Grammy-nominated jazz pianist Christian Sands.

Christina Executive Director Raye Jones Avery and faculty member Ken Brown first met Sands during a National Guild of Community Schools of the Arts conference in Boston more than a decade ago, when Sands was a teenager. The two subsequently invited Sands to Wilmington to perform in concert at the Delaware Theater Company with his ensemble.

Not yet 30 years old, Sands is one of the most in-demand pianists in jazz. In the last few years, he has toured the world as a bandleader and recently appeared as a sideman on records by Christian McBride and Gregory Porter.

Sands made his dynamic debut CD Reach in 2017. Facing Dragons, his newest CD, was released this year and heralds his return to the recording studio with a solid group of musicians and an unwavering allegiance to “the groove.”

Tickets for the performance are $35 and are available at ccacde.org. This engagement of Christian Sands is made possible through the Jazz Touring Network program of the Mid Atlantic Arts Foundation, with support from the National Endowment for the Arts.

So, what do you think? Please comment below.