On Sunday, March 22, Downtown Milford, Inc. (DMI) showcased the ‘Art on the Riverwalk Tour’ (ART) Project with, “Launching Augusta: the Last Fleet” at Abbott’s Grill. The last six boats to be added to this public art project were unveiled as residents and visitors had the opportunity to meet the artists and their students that created the works of art. These boats will join the other 12 sculptures that are permanently on display along the Mispillion River.
The ART project began last year as six sculptures depicting the classic yacht Augusta were designed and created by four local artists and displayed permanently along the Mispillion River. 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 as it is now moored back in the Mispillion River.
During year one of the project, the sculptures were designed and created by five Milford artists including Anne Jenkins, David Rule, Cathy Walls and Scott & Gail Angelucci. Local Kent and Sussex artists, Linda Chatfield, Eddie Filemyr, Gwen Guerke, Marcia Reed and Bill Walton were selected in year two to be a part he public art project. The ‘Last Fleet’ was created by local artists Karen Brittingham from Ellendale, Linda Chatfield from Wyoming, Paul Drzymalski from Dover, Kim Klabe from Rehoboth Beach, Erica Rae Lokai from Magnolia and Keith Steck from Milton.
“We are giving visitors, tourists and residents another reason to come downtown as it enhances our sense of place,” stated DMI Director Lee Nelson. “The project reenforces the branding of Milford, Rivetown, Arttown Home Town and enhances the Riverwalk to have more people visit downtown Milford to shop, visit our restaurants and go to our stores. These are ongoing goals that we continue to be passionate about.”
The “Last Fleet” brings the total to 18 sculptures that will be displayed permanently along the Mispillion River. Reflecting Milford’s branding of ‘Rivertown, Art Town, Hometown’, each of the artists worked with a high school art student as a mentor throughout the creative process. The decorated sculptures are now completed and will be displayed permanently around town during early summer, joining the original six already in place.
The program was made possible, in part, by a grant from the Delaware Division of the Arts, a state agency dedicated to nurturing and supporting the arts in Delaware, in partnership with the National Endowment for the Arts. ART was also partially funded by a grant from Kent County Fund for the Arts. For more information, individuals are encouraged to contact Lee Nelson at (302)839-1180, e-mail Director@DowntownMilford.org or visit http://downtownmilford.org
“Although very early in the idea phase we have thought about creating a self-guided tour that individuals could download to their phone to experience all of the ships along the Mispillion River,” said Nelson. “We are actively supporting partnerships with art-oriented organizations and encourage others to get involved.”