History and art meet in Chadds Ford on March 22 and 23
● By J. Chambless
Landenberg artist Kathy Ruck and Wilmington artist Rick Phillips will be spotlighted at the Chadds Ford Art Show on March 22 and 23.
Any art show that has lasted for 70 years has certainly proved its appeal, and the annual Chadds Ford Elementary School Art Show and Sale has earned its place as a highlight of the year.
The show, started in 1949 by Betsy and Andrew Wyeth when their son, Jamie, went to Chadds Ford Elementary, raises much-needed funds for the school through art sales. Last year, about $80,000 in total sales netted $20,000 for the PTA. The money is spread over a wide range of needs – everything from specialized seating to a new piano and other classroom supplies not covered in the regular budget. For a two-day sale, the total is impressive, said Nichole Scull, the show’s chairwoman.
“We set it up in the school gym on Thursday afternoon after school, and that takes three to four hours,” she said. “The artists check in, there’s an adults-only preview on Friday, and then general admission on Saturday. We break it all down on Saturday, and that takes another two hours or so.”
While the mechanics of the show have been streamlined in all these years, the roster of artists is constantly changing. “We have 65 artists this year, and three of them are new,” Scull said. “Thirty percent of the sales go to the school.”
For the artists, many of whom are friends, the Chadds Ford show is a chance to catch up with each other’s lives and work. The show also serves as a showcase where area gallery dealers can scout out new talent, so being part of the event can lead to bigger things.
Jamie Wyeth has been known to stop by in past years, Scull said, “and you never know who will turn up. For buyers, we try to get a variety of things – different styles, mediums, wood crafts, jewelry, photography. Something for everyone.”
This year, Landenberg artist Kathy Ruck will be the featured artist, getting a prime space to show her paintings on the stage in the gymnasium. Delaware artist Rick Phillips will be the donating artist, meaning he is donating a painting, “Vintage Americana,” that will be raffled off during the show.
Phillips has been an exhibitor at the show since 2011, “but to be the donating artist has always been on my bucket list,” he said on March 13 during an interview at the school. A longtime admirer of the Wyeth family of artists, he is struck by the history of the show. He also enjoys seeing what everyone else is up to. “This whole area just speaks to me,” he said of Chester County.
The show opens with a reception with live music and cocktails on March 22 from 7 to 10 p.m. Many of the artists will be in attendance to meet visitors. The show is open to everyone on March 23 from 10 a.m. to 4 p.m.
Special events include a talk by Mary Cronin, the dean of education and public programs at the Brandywine River Museum of Art, who will be discussing “The Wyeths in Chadds Ford” on Saturday from 1 to 1:30 p.m. in the school library, which has original works by the Wyeths. A “Paint Party” offered by artists Christine Burke and Diane Micklin will be held from 11 a.m. to 1 p.m. (registration required). And artist Karl J. Kuerner will have a gallery of his own and will be at the show to meet guests.
For more information, visit https://cfes.ucfsd.org/artshow.
To contact Staff Writer John Chambless, email firstname.lastname@example.org.