Local Artists Selected For ART Project

Cathy Walls and Carlos Rodriguez working together on the ART project.
Cathy Walls and Carlos Rodriguez working together on the ART project.

Four local artists have been selected for Milford’s community art project, Art on the Riverwalk Tour (ART),to begin designing and painting the first six 4-foot sculptures to be placed in downtown Milford. ART is a 3-year public art project headed by Downtown Milford Inc., partially funded by grants from the Delaware Division of the Arts and the Milford Lions Club, featuring sculptures of the classic yacht ‘Augusta’, built by Milford’s Vineyard Boat Yard in 1927.

Artists Cathy Walls, Anne Jenkins, Gail Angelucci and David Rule have been chosen by the Art on the Riverwalk Committee and will have the opportunity to create a work of art that reflects the town of Milford but also their own personality and style. The sculptures will reflect Downtown Milford Inc.’s mantra, River Town, Art Town, Hometown.

“The ART project is the good example of the revitalization and rebranding of the town. These four artists submitted excellent design proposals based on our “River town, Art town, Hometown” branding to the committee,” Lee Nelson, Downtown Milford, Inc., (DMI) Executive Director, said. “…and, happily, it turns out there will be 2 hometown, 2 river town and 2 art town designs.”

Selected artist Cathy Walls is active in the arts locally and regionally. She is a founding member of the Mispillion Art League, a Delaware State Arts Council member, a member of the Delaware Arts Alliance and Millsboro and Rehoboth Art Leagues plus the Plein Air Painters of the Mid-Atlantic. For Cathy, who paints under her middle name C. Mercedes Walls, realism and an intense use of color are hallmarks of her style and have become a part of her process while working on the boat.

“When designing the boat I was trying to think of what it is I like to do and what would match my style,” commented Walls. “I like to paint every day scenes and wanted to capture my hometown theme by painting scenes of Milford life that people could recognize.” Walls’ sculpture features details that are so intense that the people of Milford can be recognized by their faces.

Each artist also works with a high school art student as a mentor throughout the process. When Cathy found out the student assigned to her, Carlos Rodriguez, is a very good sculptor and likes working with clay, she immediately made adjustments to her concept design. Carlos is currently helping Walls create sculptures on the sides and top of the boat, leaving his influence of the public art as well.

“I like that this peice of art is going to be a part of history and put on display for genertaions to see,” commented Rodriguez. “This has also allowed me to get to know Cathy and experience a new artist and how she moves through her process.”

Anne Jenkins and Ann McGehrin painting the River Town themed ship for the downtown ART project.
Anne Jenkins and Ann McGehrin painting the River Town themed ship for the downtown ART project.

Selected artisit Anne Jenkins is a British citizen and was born and raised in South Africa. She has lived in six European countries and traveled the world extensively before settling in the United States. Anne is a self-taught artist and her acrylics and watercolors can be found in many private collections throughout Europe, Japan, South Africa, Canada, and the United States. Jenkins is an active player in the Milford art scene; owner of Anne Jenkins Art Studio in downtown Milford, member of Mispillion Art League and the Downtown Merchants’ Association.

The first boat Anne and her student Ann are designing reflects the River Town theme and features the 7 original shipbuilding yards in Milford including the Vineyard Boat Yard, which was bought by the present owners, Sudler and Joan Lofland. The boat also features recognizable houses from the downtwon Victorian District and local wildlife.

“This is a fascinating project, living on the Mispillion River has inspired me while working on the boat,” stated Anne. “The student component is also exciting, art is traditionaly a solitary experience and I have enjoyed seeing Ann work on the boat.”

Ann McGehrin is a senior at Milford High School and is currently painting a mural in the school’s main lobby. Her mentor during this project, Jenkins, says that Ann is very confident with her art and straight forward when deciding on the direction the boats will take.

“I really enjoy getting to know Anne during this process,” stated McGehrin. “It is fun to see her in her own studio and making a living from her art.” Ms. McGehrin is planning on attending the Delaware College of Art and Design next year and will have the opportunity to experience art on the international stage when see visits Italy and France with her classmates this Spring.

The first six boats of the Art on the Riverwalk Tour are scheduled to be finished by April 15, with an unveiling of the sculptures in late May and their installation set for mid to late summer. For more info on the project, contact Lee Nelson at (302)839-1190, e-mail Director@DowntownMilford.org or visit http://downtownmilford.org.