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Artist cooperative to open in West Rehoboth

Plans call for gallery, classes and after-school programs
October 18, 2017

Story Location:
19875 Hebron Rd
Rehoboth Beach  Delaware  19971
United States

Leah Beach said she wasn’t sure what would happen when she and a collection of local artists began the Dewey Artist Collaboration late last year.

There were no expectations, Beach said recently.  The plan was to provide pop-up galleries at local events as a way for up-and-coming artists to show their work, she said.

Less than a year later, the collaboration is a few weeks away from opening the Arts Co-op in West Rehoboth.

“It definitely sounds outlandish,” said Beach after a half an hour of describing the ambitious goals of the co-op. “But we have people who are very passionate about [starting the co-op] and it would be pretty cool to see a revitalization of West Rehoboth.”

Beach said, in addition to being a cooperative for artists, the plan is to also be a community arts organization. It’s not just about the artists, she said, it’s about creating a movement. She then listed off after-school programs, adult art classes and do-it-yourself classes as examples of what the cooperative will be offering the community.

The goal is to offer something different that isn’t already available, she said, adding that users of the Junction and Breakwater Trail will go right past the cooperative.

Located in a treed lot off Hebron Road, the co-op will be composed of a small collection of buildings – three red-sided and gold-roofed houses and a large storage facility directly across the street. Beach, whose artwork can be found scattered around the Cape Region, said there’s a pole barn being built around the corner from these buildings that will be incorporated into the cooperative at a later date.

“There’s so much we can do with this space,” said Beach, who will be the cooperative’s president. “I just fell in love with these buildings when I first saw them.”

Local artist, general contractor and furniture maker Dan Garcia will serve as the cooperative’s executive director. He said he’s been making art his whole life.

“Something like this is definitely needed,” he said. “There are more artists out there than people know. I would love to be a part of providing those artists a space.”

Garcia, who ran a gallery in Albuquerque, N.M., for five years before moving to Rehoboth, said the goal is to turn two of the three red buildings into studio space for artists to rent, which will generate income to pay the cooperative’s bills. He’s already started the renovation process on the larger of the two.

The third red building, a two-story space with a garage on the bottom and a loft-style room on top, will be the permanent showroom for the cooperative. There’s a porch off the second floor where someone can come and read, said Beach.

Beach and Garcia said the plan is to turn the open space between the buildings into a garden.

“The way I envision it, it could be a place for someone to come and relax, or I could see someone getting married,” said Beach. “It’s definitely very hippy-dippy.”

Garcia, whose artwork can be found on the walls of Grandpa Mac at the Route 1 location, said the large building across the street from the red buildings will be used as workspace for artists, and classrooms. The ceiling is tall enough to add a second floor if needed in the future, he said.

Beach said the cooperative is in the process of becoming a 501c3. She said the paperwork was submitted in July and she’s expecting to have nonprofit status by November or December.

Moving forward, Beach said the cooperative is looking to bring someone with nonprofit experience onto the board of directors to take over the president position. She said neither she nor Garcia has experience running a nonprofit.

“Once that happens, I would assume the executive director position, and Dan would assume the position of director of galleries,” she said.

Beach said the cooperative will have a grand opening Saturday, Oct. 21. The artists associated with the cooperative will turn the street into an arts installation that will stretch from the cooperative’s home around the corner to Revelation Craft Brewing on Central Street.

“It’s going to be really neat,” she said.

For more information on the Dewey Artist Collaboration or the artist cooperative, email dac@gmail.com.

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