This month Downtown Milford Inc. (DMI), with help from the Milford Parks & Recreation Department, installed six public art sculptures along the Riverwalk in downtown Milford. The sculptures, which depict the classic yacht Augusta that was built at the Vinyard Shipyard in Milford, links the town’s historical beginnings of shipbuilding to the modern attraction of the Riverwalk along the Mispillion River.
Boat building is an ancient art and integral to Milford’s history. There were originally seven boat-building yards in Milford but over time they all closed. Vineyard Boat Yard was bought by the present owners, Sudler and Joan Lofland. They rescued the Augusta, which was lying derelict in another state and restored it to its former glory and is now moored back in the Mispillion River.
The sculptures were designed and created by four local artists and will be displayed permanently along the Mispillion River. The artists were commissioned to paint the sculptures based on the theme “River Town. Art Town. Home Town”. Five of the six boats were painted by Anne Jenkins, David Rule and Cathy Walls, as one was decorated with mosaic tile by Scott & Gail Angelucci. Creating the opportunity for Milford artists to mentor art students, each artists was assisted by Milford High School students Ann McGehrin, Evelyn Orta, Carlo Rodriguez, and Kim McKinney. Each student was able to not only assist but also take the original ideas developed by each artist in a different direction.
DMI Director Lee nelson, is excited to see the sculptures in the downtown area located along the Riverwalk and believes that the public art project is more than just pleasing to the eyes.
“On the design side of our mainstream program I do believe that it is another incremental step in making downtown Milford an attractive destination,” commented Nelson. “I also helps with economic development giving people another reason to spend time in downtown Milford. We hope that while there they visit our local restaurants, businesses and art galleries and experience all that the downtown area has to offer.”
Phase one of three, the completed ART project will see a total of 18 sculpture on public display beginning at the start of the Riverwalk on Maple Street and extending to Goat Island. The next round of sculpture will begin this fall as Downtown Milford Inc. looks for six more artists to leave their own mark on the MIlford community.
“This puts Milford much more on the map as a destination by reinforcing our branding of River Town, Art Town, Home Town,” commented Nelson. “It makes art more accessible by bringing it outside of the downtown galleries and into the streets.”
DMI has applied for a grant from the Delaware Division of Arts to help pay for the second phase of the project. Businesses and individuals can also help to support the continuation of the next six sculptures by purchasing plaques that will be displayed on each ship. For more information on the Art on the River Tour, individuals can visit Downtown Milford Inc. online at http://downtownmilford.org or call their office at 302-839-1180.