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The 100-year-old building on 3rd Street in Lewes that houses the Cape Artists' Gallery is home to 22 members and their artwork.

   Cooperatives aren’t just for producing and delivering electricity. The not-for-profit business model is also helping a thriving group of artists in Sussex County make their mark in Delaware. The Cape Artists’ Gallery’s 22 members work in partnership, honing their skills, critiquing members’ work and selling their masterpieces. Much as a painting’s individual brush strokes mesh to form something beautiful, the members of the group say they are finding success growing as artists together. 

   The Gallery is snuggled in the heart of idyllic Lewes on 3rd Street. Don’t let the showroom’s small size fool you — you won’t find any empty space on the walls of the 100-year-old building the Gallery occupies. Each turn of the head reveals a new work of art. Impressionist paintings of local landscapes, the cherry blossoms in peak bloom at the Tidal Basin in Washington, D.C. and, of course, beach scenes can be found on display. The art on exhibit reflects the varied tastes and skills of the nonprofit’s artists as well as the diversity of landscapes and people that call the First State home. 

   “We each have our own styles, our own backgrounds. Some of us have degrees in fine arts, some were teachers, and some just found themselves here,” says DEC member and artist Jean Bowers. “We really like each other, too,” adds Janet March, also a DEC member. 

   On Tuesdays, the members paint together, have lunch, and offer helpful feedback to each other about the morning’s creations. The comments are always constructive, and they’ve helped many painters ignite their true passion for expressing themselves on canvas. 

   According to March, “We all work together, help each other and feed off each other. We learn from each other‘s techniques, and it’s wonderful.”

   “It takes your mind to a level where you have the visions and the understanding of the others, and you integrate that into how you feel about your own work and turn it into art,” says artist and DEC member Pat Riordan.  

   The Gallery opened in 1985. Since then, member artists have helped pay for the rent of the building, are able to sell their pieces for 100% of the profit — they also share in a commitment to help the community. Recently, the group raised nearly $2,000 to aid war-ravaged Ukraine — the sale of artwork has also provided funding to the Fisher Martin House, Lewes Library and other organizations. 

   All of the artists are local, and their incredible work is original. More importantly, by fostering a culture of creative collaboration, artists can be themselves and create inspired artwork.

   “It’s a wonderful escape. In today’s society, with so much going on and the everyday stress of life, this is a place you can come and be with your friends and support each other. We’re family, and we love being here,” says March.

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