From March 21, 2009 to May 2, 2009, Main Street Delaware City, Inc had the privilege of participating in a collaboration between the Smithsonian Institution and Delaware Humanities Forum to bring the Between Fences traveling exhibit to Delaware City, Delaware. Check out our photo gallery on this blog.
Well over 500 tours of the exhibit took place after a full year of planning and community involvement. Before the exhibit, four “fence themed” movies were shown at Crabby Dick’s Restaurant in Delaware City. Far and Away, Touch of Evil, Pleasantville and The Truman Show were enjoyed by many in order to get ready for the Grand Opening of Between Fences on March 21, 2009. More than 65 people in our town of 1,500 attended the Grand Opening, which is a large number for our community!
In addition to viewing the Smithsonian exhibit, a local exhibit was developed which featured the fences of Delaware City by local photographers Patricia Ewing, Jackie Nye and Al Morgan. Artwork by Lorraine Lenskold of Toms River, NJ was also featured. A three-lecture series was also organized to open discussion on multiple topics related to literal fences and metaphorical fences that have created cultural barriers and boundaries in our city and society. To start the series, the local Mason-Dixon line was discussed by Michael Dixon, M.S., M.A. The following week, Lee Jennings, the Chief of Cultural Resources for the Delaware Division of Parks and Recreation, discussed Fort Delaware/Pea Patch Island as an allegorical ‘military fence’. Fort Delaware is where many thousands of Confederate POWs were held during the Civil War as well as German POWs during World War II. To wrap up the lecture series, local historian and master storyteller Willis Phelps, Jr., Chairman of the Friends of the African Union Cemetery Committee brought to life a first person look into African-American men born in Delaware City who had to “fight for the right to fight” during the Civil War. This touched on racial ‘fences’ that have existed and still exist.
To commemorate Between Fences in Delaware City, the creation of a permanent fence in Delaware City’s Battery Park was undertaken by over 30 artisans. Delaware City’s resident blacksmith Kerry Rhoades of Forged Creations gathered the talents of 18 blacksmiths from 6 states, from as far away as New Mexico, to participate in forging 21 artistic wrought iron rods and donated them for our community fence. Timber framers, from the local Challenge Program, a non-profit Construction Training Program, split rails while the community looked on. Brick masons from Paul’s Pointing, a historic masonry company, carefully constructed a brick pillar in the center. Blacksmiths came from New York, Maryland and Pennsylvania to help assemble and install the fence. All in all, the installation took about 9 hours. All the artists and craftsmen who participated donated the labor, materials and their time for this remarkable piece of public art. The fence will open dialogue for passersby and those strolling through the park on how fences affect our everyday life.
Many other activities took place during our exhibit such as a mural painting by Hodgson Vo-Tech High School Art Club and a demonstration by the Diamond State Baseball Club, a vintage baseball team. For seven weeks, almost everything in Delaware City was fence themed. The exhibit was an overall success and has excited Delaware City to continue its path of revitalization. Tremendous thanks to all of our volunteers and our volunteer coordinator Julia Morrill.
-- Sarah Budzichowski Bucic, Main Street Delaware City Inc., Delaware City, Delaware