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Murals around state create trail of interactive street art

Newark artist Natalia Ciriaco “was inspired by the beautiful landscape, and the important elements that represent the town” in creating her mural that’s part of the new Delaware Discoveries Trail.

“I wanted the mural to fit in Wyoming, and for people to feel like they were part of the town,” said Ciriaco, a Newark Charter art teacher and Delaware’s Art Teacher of the Year in 2015.

That’s why her interactive street art incorporates peaches, sunflowers and the railroad.

The trail, the Delaware Tourism Office’s fifth thematic way to explore the state, has been in development for over a year to boost off-season visitation and draw younger travelers. Its debut in a time of coronavirus restrictions adds a chance to promote it as a socially distant outdoor activity.

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The trail was launched Sept. 21, featuring nine pieces of street art intended for selfies. To encourage the sharing, when visitors take photos in front of at least four pieces and upload them at the Delaware Discoveries Trail, they get a free paint pour kit developed with the Developing Artist Collaboration.

“It’ll be fun to see how creative people will be” with photos, said office director Liz Keller.

Officials hope for comments like this, from Ohio photographer Debbi Bollman on Instagram: “Big Chill Beach Club in Bethany Beach. I made a special trip here specifically to see the mural by the amazingly talented @kelseymontagueart and it did not disappoint! Little did I know, this place is really cool – great atmosphere, a view of the Indian River Inlet Bridge at sunset, and an awesome mural by @paulcarpenterart as well!” (Paul Carpenter’s mural in the club is not part of the trail.)

The locations were picked to be scattered around the state and showcase different fun things, such as breweries, places to eat, historical sites and scenic spots, Keller said.

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The artists were picked by whose work matched the location. One artist (Christian Kanienberg) was selected through a contest, and the rest were selected with the Developing Artist Collaboration. 

Five artists are from Delaware, and Kelsey Montague is internationally famous, Keller said. So famous that people have waited an hour to pose in front of a Montague work in Nashville, she said.

“Art can spark joy and bring people together,” Montague said in a statement. “I hope my work encourages people to explore the great outdoors.”

Montague loves to create butterflies, and many of the photos on her Instagram account show happy people and pets centered between the wings.

The project cost $100,000, mostly to pay artists, which Keller called important in today’s economic doldrums. The office already has requests from more locations and more artists to get involved.

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What you’ll see

The office commissioned six artists to paint nine pieces of outdoor artwork at these locations:

  • Big Chill Beach Club, 27099 Coastal Highway, Bethany Beach. The trail’s “brightest and beachiest,” by Kelsey Montague.
  • Bombay Hook National Wildlife Refuge, Refuge Entrance Road, Smyrna. A butterfly just outside the entrance pavilion, by Montague.
  • Cape May-Lewes Ferry terminal, 43 Cape Henlopen Drive, Lewes. “An underwater sea adventure,” by Christian Kanienberg of Bellefonte.
  • DE Turf, 4000 Bay Road, Frederica. Soccer-themed piece on the athletic complex’s main building and visible from Del. 1, by Michael Johnson of Lewes.
  • Delaware Art Museum, 2301 Kentmere Parkway, Wilmington. A peacock-inspired rainbow of colors, by Laura Erickson of Rehoboth Beach.
  • Delaware Children’s Museum, 550 Justison St., Wilmington. A floral map of the world that’s the most intriguing of the nine, by Erickson.
  • Hagley Museum and Library, 200 Hagley Creek Road, Greenville. A floral work, not attached to a building, on Workers’ Hill near the picnic pavilion, by Leah Beach of Dewey Beach.
  • Mispillion River Brewing Co., 255 Mullett Run St., Milford. “Tap-centric artwork,” by Johnson.
  • Wyoming Town Hall, 1 Railroad Ave. Homage to old-time farming, by Natalia Ciriaco of Newark.

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Most sites are free to visit. Hagley charges admission. The Big Chill Beach Club is in the Delaware Seashore State Park, which charges an entrance fee March 1-Nov. 30. 

The tourism office encourages people to view its Go-to-Guide for how to #ExploreSafelyDE. 

The office’s other trails are the Delaware Culinary Trail, the Delaware History Trail, the Delaware on Tap Trail and the Delaware Outdoor Trail.