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Ocean City among many coastal towns embracing booming art scene

There’s something for everyone who carries an interest in art. Besides displays and galleries that allow artists to show off and sell their work, there’s also studio space available for artists from around the Eastern Shore to take advantage of, and classes for aspiring artists of all ages and all abilities.

WASHINGTON — There’s no shortage of natural beauty almost anywhere you look when you visit the beach. From sunrise over the ocean to sunset as wild life moves around the coastal bays, the right spot in the right light can offer a breathtaking photograph or inspiration for a painting.

“It’s funny because there’s so much natural beauty in the area and so many artists that want to paint with the sea down here … but there really was nowhere to show their work,” said Rina Thaler, the executive director of the Ocean City Art League.

But that has changed in recent years, as coastal towns start to embrace the arts up and down the beach.

A big investment was made in Ocean City when the town helped build the Art League’s new home base on 94th Street. It opened in 2013.

“The arts are something, and cultural activities are something we’ve worked to expand in Ocean City,” says Mayor Rick Meehan, “It’s an unbelievable artists’ facility.”

There’s something for everyone who carries an interest in art. Besides displays and galleries that allow artists to show off and sell their work, there’s also studio space available for artists from around the Eastern Shore to take advantage of, and classes for aspiring artists of all ages and all abilities.

“During the summer we run a four-week summer program (for kids),” Thaler says. “But we also have a lot of casual classes that are just one day. We supply all the materials, no experience needed, whether it’s in pottery or glass or fiber or painting. So people who are in Ocean City visiting the town, they might not want to go to the beach every day. They can come to the Art Center and get creative and go home with a piece of art.”

And it’s culminating with an increasing number of art shows as well. This year the town is holding its inaugural Art-X at Northside Park.

“We’re calling it Art-X: art explosion, art expression,” says Thaler. Featuring live music, film and other visual arts, it’ll turn the trail around the water at Northside Park into a big, outdoor art gallery Aug. 25-26.

“There will be about 80 artists in tents set up, and we’ll have two main stages that’ll have entertainment going all day long,” adds Thaler. “There will be workshops there, people can come in and get their hands dirty and make some art. Artists from all over the country (are) coming to sell their work. We’re going to have a craft beer garden, wine bar and kids’ activities.”

Bethany Beach holds its annual Seaside Craft Show on June 2, which allows local artists to sell their work. The Rehoboth Art League hosts its annual outdoor show over two the first two weekends in August at Henlopen Acres.


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