By Terry Rogers
On Sunday, June 8 at Abbott’s Grill, Downtown Milford Inc. held Launching Augusta: The Next Fleet, the unveiling of the ships included in the second phase of the Art on the Riverwalk Tour (ART) project. The project includes local artists decorating a four foot sculpture of the Augusta, a yacht built in 1927 at the Vinyard Shipyard in Milford, which will be permanently displayed along the Mispillion Riverwalk.. The shipyard is now owned by Sudler and Joan Lofland who found the yacht in another state and restored it to its original glory. The Augusta project pays homage to the strong shipbuilding history in Milford.
The program was opened by Lee Nelson, Director of Downtown Milford Inc., who acknowledged the many people and organizations that allowed the second phase of the project to be completed.
“We must give thanks to Joan and Sudler Lofland for their inspiration to begin this project,” Mr. Nelson said. “The Augusta and her sister boats are currently anchored by the shipyard on the Mispillion River. We hope to begin taking applications for the third phase that should begin next year.” Artists submitted their vision for decorating the boats and were chosen based on those concepts. Each artist also worked with a student artist from area high schools who contributed to the concept and helped create the design on the boats.
The first unveiled was created by Linda Chatfield and her student assistant, Sarah Johnson. Ms. Johnson was a student at Caesar Rodney High School. Ms. Chatfield said that her inspiration for her design initially related to an old saying “the only difference between men and boys is the size of their toys,” as to her, the Augusta model looked like a really big toy.
“I wanted to give respect to the engineering and structure,” Ms. Chatfield said. “The ship was built in 1927, and the fact that it still exists is a testament to the workmanship that existed when it was built originally.” Her student assistant said that she was very excited to work on the project, especially the research necessary to create accurate pictures. The ship depicted paintings of people in various locations throughout the ship, including one under deck who appears to be sleeping, and the captain in the window at the helm.
The second model unveiled was created by Nancy Carter and her student assistant, Rosalie Corporan, a recent graduate from Milford High School. Ms. Carter said that the entire design was Ms. Corporan’s vision and that she did all the work. The ship was painted white with black, modern shapes painted in contrast to the white.
“I wanted to go for a modern look,” Ms. Corporan explained. “Most of the ships I saw from the first project were bright and colorful, and I wanted a contrast. I wanted kids my age to say ‘wow, Milford likes cool, vibrant stuff.’ I didn’t want people to say that they had seen that before, but rather that this teenager, Rosalie Corporan, did something completely different.”
The third model unveiled was created by Eddie Filemyr and her student assistant, Jessica Esham. Ms. Filemyr said her inspiration was the endurance of the shipyard from sun up to sundown, so her model showed the colors of dawn on one side and the colors of dusk on the other.
“I am the generalist and Jessica is the detailer,” Ms. Filemyr said. “I can take credit for the broad strokes, while Jessica helped me with the detail.
The fourth model was created by Gwen Guerke and recent Milford High School graduate Nicole Rogers. Ms. Guerke, who was a reporter for the Delaware State News and Milford Chronicle for many years, said her inspiration was taken from when she followed the revival of the Augusta when she was a reporter. She remembered that Mrs. Lofland had many photos, articles and other factual documents. She contacted Mrs. Lofland who allowed her to use copies of those historical items to place on the model.
“While doing this project, I was amazed at how many lives were touched by the Augusta,” Ms. Guerke said. “The shipyard was very important to the city of Milford, providing a livelihood for many people. It is amazing that the Lofland’s have painstakingly preserved not only the ship but the shipyard.”
Ms. Guerke’s student assistant said that her first instinct would have been to paint the model, and the unique method that Ms. Guerke used intrigued her when she began working on the project. She said that she came into the project later than some of the students. “I never thought of printing stuff and attaching it to the model,” Ms. Rogers said. “This was a very fun project and I am glad I did it. It was really very therapeutic.”
Marcia Reed and Catlin Fuhrman created the fifth Augusta sculpture. Ms. Reed said that she was inspired by the views downtown, which she sees every day from her art gallery located on Walnut Street next to the Mispillion River. She and Ms. Fuhrman painted views of the river, wildlife, the theater and many other scenes of the downtown area. In addition, they used phosphorus paint so that the ship will glow after dark.
“I could not have had a better artist to work with,” Ms. Fuhrman said. “I had never worked in this medium or on a project like this, and I really enjoyed it.”
The final model was created by Bill Walton and his student assistant, Victoria Carr-Davis. Ms. Davis is a home school student in Frederica. Mr. Walton said he was inspired by the fact that the model was a three-dimensional piece of art.
“When you think of art, you normally think of a single item, such as a painting or a poem,” Mr. Walton said. “Because this was a three-dimensional model and because it was a collaborative effort, I immediately thought of theater, as theater is both of those things.” Mr. Walton and Ms. Carr-Davis’ ship depicted many scenes related to the theater, in particular Second Street Players.
The ships will be installed and permanently on display along Milford’s Riverwalk between Maple Avenue and Goat Island over the next few weeks so that visitors and residents can enjoy them. After installation is complete, a total of 12 boats will be on public display. Round three of the Art on the Riverwalk Tour, which will account for the final six boats along the river, will begin next year as the total of 18 boats will be complete as they follow the Mispillin River in downtown Milford.