Feature

An Aesthetic Update

Local artists transform empty windows

By Michele Johnson |

Next time you visit Rehoboth, something may seem different. The sand will be warm, the Atlantic will be crashing on the shore, and the salt-water taffy will taste just as good, but you may find your stroll along the boardwalk more aesthetically pleasing than you did on your last trip.

Before

You can thank the Rehoboth Beach Main Street (RBMS) non-profit group, along with two local artists, Angelica Clemmer and Chad Tylecki, for the new paintings featured in the windows of two empty storefronts. RBMS’s initiative on the painting project came from a desire to encourage renovation rather than replacement in Rehoboth, which means preserving and enhancing downtown buildings, signage and streetscapes. Since the community in Downtown Rehoboth is already known for its artsy aspects, Executive Administrator Jenny Barger says that it wasn’t difficult to come up with the window décor idea.

After — Artists Angelica Clemmer and Chad Tylecki add color to downtown.

Previously covered with brown paper, the windows in the large building on the corner of First Street and Wilmington Avenue in First Street Station are now decorated with colorful beach scenes and abstract geometric pieces that artist Angelica Clemmer spent two solid weeks working on before their debut on Friday, May 28, 2010. Though Clemmer has art displayed throughout Downtown Rehoboth, including pieces placed at Starboard, Hammerheads, and the East of Maui Surf Shop, this was her first time working with RBMS and Barger. The two actually met by chance one day on the beach when Clemmer took a break from a surfing session to greet some friends. “Jenny was one of the people on the beach, she told me about the project and asked to see some of my art and if I would be interested in being part of it,” Clemmer reports.

The artist was enthusiastic about Barger’s idea. Though born in Vina del Mar, Chile, Clemmer now calls Rehoboth her hometown, saying, “I travel a lot and I’ve realized what a treasure we have here; I want to help keep it beautiful.” Clemmer donated her time and her own materials for the project and reports that “seeing [her] art and watching other people enjoy it” is the best compensation.

When asked from where she drew inspiration for the window paintings, Clemmer says she thought of the different people who would be enjoying the paintings as they walked through Downtown Rehoboth, and she describes the organic way she gathers ideas: “I can walk down the street and things catch my eye and ideas start to flow.” Clemmer adds that she has always been more inspired by color than by specific formal techniques. “I like to use colors that are simple but soothing, I want my painting to be happy … I believe color touches the soul.”

As a true Rehoboth citizen, someone who surfs its waters, walks its streets, and lives there year-round, Clemmer considers her window work to be a “reflection of who I am and what I’ve seen,” which seems to easily complement the ever-classic oceanside town. The other artist involved, Chad Tylecki, also works locally. His work was actually the first to be displayed for the project, debuting in the windows of the old Cultured Pearl building on the beach block of Wilmington Avenue on March 23, 2010.

"I’ve realized what a treasure we have here; I want to help keep it beautiful.”

So far, the reaction to the artwork has been extremely positive, from both locals and visitors. Foot traffic near the buildings has increased, and the Cultured Pearl building has been leased to a local restaurant as a result of the project. Barger appreciates that “having artwork in the windows really makes an attraction out of the buildings,” and brings local flavor and historic preservation into the public eye. The new paintings, chock full of Rehoboth charm, make it even easier for visitors to bring home part of the beach. All of the pieces are for sale and will remain in the windows of their respective buildings until they are sold or until the building is taken over by a new tenant. The project doesn’t end with Clemmer and Tylecki; any artist or owner of a vacant property is welcome to contact Jenny Barger of Rehoboth Beach Main Street for the opportunity to participate.