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Chestertown Arts League and Chester River Artworks Team Up to Form: Chestertown RiverArts

Oct 01, 2012 05:21PM ● By Anonymous

The Arts League and Artworks shared a very similar goal pre- merger: to provide the Kent County community with a venue to create and appreciate art through exhibitions, programs, and various social events. According to former vice president of the Arts League, Marian Griffiths, it was only logical to merge. "It seemed unnecessary to have two organizations with largely similar purposes and memberships," she explains. "Financially, it also made sense to merge and rent one larger, nicer space than either group could afford on its own."

RiverArts offers opportunities to expand the artistic horizons of those involved. Such opportunities include monthly themed shows, art workshops, classes, seminars, field trips, luncheons, programs, social events, and community service projects designed to cultivate members' love for the arts.

Expansion is one of the main benefits of the merger, according to Lani Seikaly, former Arts League president and current RiverArts vice president. "We now have the ability to expand, whether it's programs or membership, or whether it's exhibits will be bigger in a much more professional space...by and large, we expect to offer a lot more."

The main difference between the two former organizations, says Seikaly, is what each offered in terms of exhibits. "Artworks invited guest artists to exhibit their work, and Arts League members exhibited their own work. RiverArts exhibits both." She believes this convergence will blend nicely to create a more extensive artistic experience for members.

JoLecia Crowe, former Artworks president and current RiverArts president, explains that the two organizations have proven extremely cohesive when working together. "Both organizations were complementary—where one was weak, the other was strong," she says. "For example, the Arts League had top-notch adult programs and Artworks was very strong in kids programming. Together, they complement each other very well and makes us a lot stronger as an organization."

Both former organizations have established their own unique programs and events throughout the years, and the community can expect all of it to be continued under RiverArts. The Juried Art Show, Paint the Town, and Art in the Park are a few popular events that the Arts League has held annually in the past that will be continued under RiverArts; meanwhile Studio Tour is an original Artworks event that will continue as well. Kicking off this month, Studio Tour spans two weekends, October 27–28 and November 3–4, coinciding with the annual Downrigging celebration. Studio Tour offers an opportunity for local artists to open their studios to the public for self-guided tours and has become an extremely popular event. "Studio Tour gives folks a chance to actually see the artist at work in their spaces," Crowe says. "It's mainly an opportunity for people to get a glimpse of what the creative process looks like and a view into that world that they ordinarily wouldn't get."

Other October RiverArts events include the Wood Show, in which wood artists, furniture makers, wood turners, and wood sculptors showcase their work; and Unfurled, a themed show focused on maritime aspects.

RiverArts is now located at 315 High Street, Suite 106, Chestertown. It is open Wednesday through Friday, noon–3 p.m., and Saturday, 9–3 p.m.