The Wilmington Art Loop is on the first Friday in the First State. But many arts venues are open all month long.
For more than three decades, the Wilmington Art Loop has been a cultural and social hub for residents and area visitors. On the first Friday of the month, the self-guided event gives participants the chance to see and be seen in diverse settings. Many locations provide refreshments and live music.
The promotion — sponsored by !N Wilmington, CityFest and Out & About magazine — is so popular that it’s expanded outside the city limits. But don’t wait for the “Loop” to take advantage of Wilmington’s vibrant art scene. Most gallery spaces feature exhibitions throughout the month.
Call first to confirm that the galleries are open. Not all the galleries are on the loop each month.
The heart of Wilmington is home to new condo and apartment buildings, offices, restaurants, and venues for the arts. Something is going on nearly all the time, from concerts to duckpin bowling, and art galleries here are plentiful.
MKT Place Gallery is on the first floor of MKT Place, an apartment building on West Ninth Street that opened in 2017. Rodney Pratt of Rodney Pratt Framing & Gallery curates artwork in the bright, open space.
The city-owned Redding Gallery in the Louis L. Redding City/County Building features solo exhibitions. The gallery and building are named for the respected Wilmington attorney who was on the legal team fighting segregation in Brown v. Board of Education.
Over on Market Street, the Christina Cultural Arts Center is known for an abundance of performing and visual arts classes for all ages. It is also an active participant on the Wilmington Art Loop.
Located in the Delaware College of Art & Design, also on Market Street, the Toni & Stuart B. Young Gallery exhibits the work of students and up-and-coming artists in the Mid-Atlantic region. Former student Joshua Hollingsworth, a Wilmington native, is the gallery curator.
LaFate Gallery is the brainchild of Eunice LaFate. LaFate, born in Jamaica, has become a much-loved Delaware artist. The educator/artist is a Renaissance woman; she’s also a writer and public speaker. Lithographs of her work are in the art collection of the William J. Clinton Presidential Library and Museum.
The lower end of Market Street, known as LOMA, boasts a historic section where Quakers and other businesspeople helped build the city. Here you’ll find Milk + Honey Café and Gallery, which serves coffee, breakfast and lunch fare, and a healthy dose of artistic inspiration. (There is also a location on Union Street in Wilmington’s Little Italy section.)
NextFab on Tatnall Street is an extension of the successful Philadelphia initiative. The facility gives artists access to the tools and technology they need to create. Consider 3D printers, woodworking and design software. Click here to shop their creations.
Also on Tatnall is The Sold Firm, Nataki Oliver’s repository for modern and contemporary art by emerging visual artists. The nearly 1,000-feet-gallery is small, but its impact on the city’s Creative District has been mighty.
On Shipley Street, the nonprofit Chris White Gallery is a labor of love. White and colleagues turned a deteriorating building into a two-level contemporary art gallery. Thanks to the layout, there are multiple exhibitions at any given time.
Breaking Ground on the Riverfront
The Wilmington Riverfront adds more restaurants, attractions, places to live, and places to play each year. The Delaware Contemporary was among the first to support the redevelopment. Founded in 1979, the arts organization moved several times before relocating to its current 33,000-square-foot space: the former home of a Harlan and Hollingsworth railroad car assembly plant. There’s more than enough room for seven galleries and 26 artist studios.
West End Story
Wilmington’s West End includes Trolley Square, an active community with restaurants, historic row homes, brick walks, and unique boutiques. For decades Blue Streak Gallery has been a fixture on Delaware Avenue, the main drag. The longtime Loop participant sells contemporary art from local and regional artists, clothing and distinctive jewelry. Blue Streak also exhibits works at nearby Piccolina Toscana, chef-owner Dan Butler’s popular Italian-themed restaurant.
Steps from Trolley Square is the Delaware Center for Horticulture. The beautiful brick building near the Brandywine River has become a gathering place for horticulture and art lovers, and the DCH Art Gallery brings them both together.
In the ’Burbs
Many galleries are within walking distance of each other. Others are a short drive from downtown. Take, for instance, Somerville Manning Gallery, one of the many upscale businesses in Greenville. Founded in 1981, Sommerville Manning specializes 20th- and 21st-century fine art and sculpture, including the work of the Brandywine illustrators who established the “Brandywine School” and the work of the Wyeth family.
The gallery is in Breck’s Mill, which is adjacent to Hagley Museum & Gardens, the birthplace of the DuPont Co. and the family’s ancestral home in America. NOTE: At the time of this writing, the Breck’s Mill show room was temporarily closed, relocated to a pop-up location at 5714 Kennett Pike (Route 52) in Wilmington.
Also in Greenville is The Station Gallery, where you’ll find paintings, jewelry, ceramics and one-of-a-kind items. This is the place to bring your cherished artwork for framing. Nearby Coca Art puts its mission in its name. Coca stands for Cheap Original Cool Art, which promotes the purchase of art and the support of the artists. Many pieces are $500 or less.
Hardcastle Galleries spent decades in neighboring Centreville. But in 2020, the 130-year-old business moved south to Bear, Delaware. Hardcastle is known for its custom framing services, restorations and appraisals. However, it also sells original artwork.
Bear abuts the Newark zip code, and in the city of Newark, you’ll find Old College Gallery on the University of Delaware campus. The gallery, which has two spaces, holds up to four different yearly exhibitions in the circa-1834 hall, which is in the National Historic Register.
North of the city is Blue Ball Barn, named for the Blue Ball Tavern that once stood near the structure. So what’s with the name? Tavern owners put a blue ball on a pole to let passing stagecoaches know when passengers needed a ride. Now part of Alapocas State Park, the barn is a conference and event venue with a gallery for the Delaware Folk Collection.
A few miles up I-95 are “the Ardens,” namely Arden, Ardencroft and Ardentown. This historic district started as an arts colony, and in many respects, it still is. The Buzz Ware Village Center is a frequent Wilmington Loop participant. Time your visit right, and you may be able to catch a national headliner at the Arden Gild Hall across the street.
For more information on the arts in Delaware, click here.