By Terry Rogers
With the appointment of Michael Quattrociocchi and Bob Connelly who will join Cathy Walls, Milford now has three artists serving on the Delaware Arts Council. Ms. Walls has been serving for five years on the council which advises the Division of the Arts on matters of arts policy, funding for the arts and other issues relevant to support for the arts in Delaware.
Ms. Walls, who paints under the name C. Mercedes Walls, says that she was selected for the council by submitting an online application and contacting state legislators to let them know she was interested in serving. At the time, she was already active in the arts community for many years, advocating for the arts and serving on local committees to promote the arts. She operated her own visual arts studio and was active in the Mispillion Art League. Her appointment to the council came a few years after she applied.
“One of the biggest payoffs is getting to know all the wonderful arts organizations throughout the state,” Ms. Walls said. “You get to know many artists in a wide range of artistic expression including performing, music, dance, visual arts and more.” She said the council does not demand a significant amount of time but that learning the grant process was a learning curve for her as she is not a “money person.” She said it is sometimes difficult to decide how to slice up the relatively small pile of funds the council manages.
Bob Connelly is a professional photographer and co-owner of the Live Cheap & Make Art Studio in Milford. He said that he is not quite sure what will be expected of him on the arts council as they have only met once since he agreed to serve.
“I was very honored to be picked for the council,” Mr. Connelly said. “It took two-and-a-half years to get accepted and I am looking forward to serving. Funding is an important aspect for any artistic endeavor and I am interested in learning more about the various art organizations throughout the state in order to help them manage their funding while also promoting their works throughout Delaware.”
Mr. Connelly said it is impressive that Kent and Sussex County are well-represented on the council as it indicates how strong the artistic community has grown in the state’s two southern counties. He said that members of the council were expected to travel around the state to learn more about each organization that applies for state grants and that he was looking forward to attending the artistic functions throughout the state to see firsthand how arts are progressing.
Mr. Connelly and his wife, Rosemary, moved to Delaware after retiring in Arizona. The couple lived in Italy fulfilling a dream to “live cheap and make art.” After living in Italy, the moved to Milford where they have become very active in the arts. Mr. Connelly also serves on the board of the Second Street Players.
Like Mr. Connelly, Mr. Quattrociocchi also moved to Milford after retiring. However, his career was not in the arts, although he had grown up in an artistic family. Mr. Quattrociocchi retired as a Program Management Director for Lockheed Martin. He and his family lived in upstate New York near Syracuse and Binghamton. As a child, he spent time in the woodworking shop owned by his father and uncles. While working at Lockheed Martin, he said he dealt with financing and monitoring, but never actually saw a finished product. He took up woodworking as a way to actually see a project to completion.
After he retired, he and his wife looked for a place to retire where he could focus on his wordworking. They discovered Milford and liked the fact that city leaders wanted the art community to grow. Once they moved to Milford, he got involved in several art leagues. At one of his shows, a television station did a special feature on his work which caught the attention of the Delaware Division of Arts. One of his designs was given to eight recipients of the Governor’s Award. He applied to the Delaware Arts Council in an effort to give back to the community that had supported his artistic endeavors.
“My name was starting to be known for my art,” Mr. Quattrociocchi said. “However, I think they chose me for the council because of my background in business and management. Every organization needs someone to manage finances and the business of the group. That is the only way to achieve goals and it is our job to make sure they are meeting objectives in order to reach the goals they have set.”
All three Milford artists say that it demonstrates the towns commitment to promoting the arts as there are only 15 members on the council. The Delaware Arts Council is a branch of the Delaware Department of the Arts and is dedicated to supporting the arts through the state. The division monitors grands and programs that support arts programming, educate the public, increase awareness of the arts and integrate the arts into all facet of Delaware life. All members are appointed by the Governor.