Rehoboth Art League continues to bring us together
Esteemed Russian novelist and philosopher Leo Tolstoy wrote that art succeeds as art to the extent to which it enhances the sense of brotherhood (and sisterhood) between people. Whether we’re looking at a colorful landscape by a trained artist or a stick figure of a child and her dog beneath a smiling sun, listening to a well-crafted piece of music, or standing in awe of one of God’s stunning rainbows or cloud formations, the mutual appreciation of those expressions binds our souls and takes us to the essence of what Tolstoy attempted to define in words. The beauty of art is in its simplicity and in its high-mindedness.
Seventy-five years ago this week, a group of resourceful people quit waiting for the muddy roads between Lewes and Rehoboth to dry so they could truck and trailer an old but sturdy, shingle-clad building to the new community of Henlopen Acres. Instead, under the engineering eye of Rehoboth Mayor Sam Cooper’s grandfather George Shockley, the group fought fire with fire - or, more accurately, water with water - skidded the building onto a barge and, with the aid of a flooding tide, floated it down the Lewes-Rehoboth Canal to its new home. The Paynter Studio - named for the family who donated the structure - became the first studio and gathering place for the infant Rehoboth Art League.
In the seven and a half decades since, that same spirit of cooperation, resourcefulness and unstinting dedication to the binding inclusivity of the arts has nurtured and grown Rehoboth Art League into a positive source of creativity and learning for the southern Delaware community. As a gathering place for artists and those who appreciate art, the league’s activities throughout the decades have created a magnet for the artistically minded. In so doing, Rehoboth Art League has added an artistic dimension to our region which has enriched our coastal quality of life, boosted our economy and helped bring us together, joyfully, as individuals with a common soul.
That’s a high calling and a high achievement well worthy of serious celebration in this seventy-fifth anniversary year of the league’s founding.