Lewes hopes to become public art destination. Where you can see new installation
One of Cliff Diver’s favorite things is to listen to what kids say when they experience art.
The longtime Lewes resident will often invite the neighborhood kids to tour the art galleries that fill his home. He said adults often get stuck on whether they understand a piece of art, but kids tell you exactly what they feel – unfiltered.
Those conversations are what art is about, he says.
“Art doesn’t exist by itself, right? If it’s sitting on a wall and there’s nobody in the room, it’s like the tree in the woods,” he said. “So I think of these (pieces of art) as like little television sets of energy pouring out all the time, and you got to go around and look at them.”
Still, not everyone has that same opportunity to see, experience and recognize art in their daily lives. That’s where the city of Lewes’ public art committee comes in.
Diver is the chair of this committee, which started almost three years ago with a mission of transforming the city into a destination for art and helping the community grow in its appreciation and awareness of art.
By placing temporary art installations in parks and other public spaces, the committee hopes to spark conversations with neighbors and visitors.
Sometimes it is a "serendipitous” kind of moment when someone stumbles across an installation, Diver said, but that unexpected encounter often brings out the best reactions when the mind is relaxed and open to taking in something new.
The latest installation is coming to Lewes on Wednesday, and Mayor Ted Becker said during a council meeting that he expects it to be an “uplifting" experience as people celebrate the start of summer.
New Jersey-based artist Kate Dodd will install her public art piece called “Efflorescence” at George H.P. Smith Park near Beebe Healthcare.
While visiting the Historic Lewes Farmers Market or walking through the park, people will be able to see the 12-foot spires made from multicolored plastic water bottles as they sway slightly in the breeze.
Becker said he thinks the “kaleidoscopic effect of this multicolored display” will be something positive for people to look at as the beach towns fill back up as more people are comfortable exploring this summer.
He also appreciated the way the art seemed to advocate for recycling, which is in line with the city’s goals.
“This is a good illustration of ‘one man’s trash is another man’s treasure’ and doing something creative with something that might have ended up in the landfill,” he said.
The installation will be in Lewes throughout the summer until October or whenever the first major storm prompts its removal, Diver said.
It follows two other public art displays that the committee commissioned in the past year, including Philadelphia artist Kyle Confehr’s energetic black-and-white mural on the side of a city public works building near the Lewes-to-Georgetown trail and Rachel Mica Weiss’ “Unbounded II” at the Lewes Delaware Canalfront Park.
Whenever Diver has visited Weiss’ installation along the canal – which may simply appear like a pile of rocks at first glance – he said he has heard different reactions from people and has often been inspired by the variety of interpretations.
“Art can be a way of looking at yourself,” he said. “It reflects who you are.”
Not everyone is going to enjoy or find deep meaning in each piece of art, but that's OK, Diver said. It's about starting that conversation and making the community feel connected.
In the future, the committee hopes to join with other community members and raise enough funding to commission a more permanent display or sculpture garden.
For now, the temporary pieces are perfect for the group's mission, Diver said. And perhaps their fleeting nature will help people appreciate them that much more.
Emily Lytle covers Sussex County from the inland towns to the beaches. Got a story she should tell? Contact her at email@example.com or 302-332-0370. Follow her on Twitter at @emily3lytle.