Bringing a little color where there was none

By Lynn R. Parks

Terry Palmer wears the tools of his trade. Tucked behind each ear, ready for work at any time, he has several paint brushes, each bearing the colors of earlier projects. He also wears the fruits of his labors. His denim jacket is decorated with his art: praying hands, a portrait of Malcolm X, a black fist raised in the air. “I have been an artist ever since I was a child,” he said. “Talent is a blessing that not everybody’s got.” Palmer, 54, is unemployed. He usually spends his days on his bike, loaded with painting supplies, riding from the Concord home he shares with his sister into Seaford and Blades and pedaling around the two towns. But recently, he has been working on a mural, commissioned by Tom Bachar, owner of Poor Tom’s restaurant in Blades. The mural, which depicts a sailing ship rolling in a turbulent sea, is on the south wall of the former Poor Tom’s banquet hall, facing the restaurant parking lot. That building, still owned by Bachar, stands empty. “I was walking one day and I saw a broken painting just lying on the ground,” Palmer said. “I picked it up and it was of a ship in rough waters. A couple of days later, Tom asked me to do a mural. I knew that that ship would be perfect.” The mural is all in shades of blue, white and brown, except for a collection of colorful row boats that sit in the lower left corner. Tied to a jetty, they seem to be caught in a bright midsummer sunset. “I have heard nothing but praise for my work,” Palmer said. “People who are eating here and who see it always have good things to say.”

“We are very pleased with it,” said Gina Bachar, manager of Poor Tom’s. “Before it was just a plain old building, kind of unsightly. Now it looks really nice.” Palmer is responsible for murals on Bon Appetit restaurant, High Street, and on the Party Corner, Norman Eskridge Highway. He also paints on canvas and on paper, and enjoys rehabilitating old objects. A lifelong resident of Seaford, Palmer graduated from Seaford High School in 1966. While in school, he was president of the art club and designed the logo for the Blue Jay, the school newspaper, as well as the emblem for the SHS jacket. After graduation, he was drafted into the US Army. He served for two years at Fort Benning, Columbus, Ga., where he was battalion artist. After his discharge he returned to Delaware and started classes at Delaware State College (now University), Dover, as an art education major. Just 12 credits shy of graduation he left school to go to Sacramento with his girlfriend. Still in need of 12 credits, Palmer hopes to return to school someday to complete his degree. Palmer’s parents, Ruth E. and John W. Palmer, are both deceased. He lives with his sister, Brenda Holbrook, and has a son, Terrell Tousant Xavier Palmer, 18, who lives in Philadelphia. The Blades mural, which overlooks what will soon be the Blades Marina, is near completion. All that is left to do is the signature, which Palmer plans for the bottom right corner of the painting. “It will be an artist’s palate, with two rosebuds,” he said. “Then I will put above it, ‘TWIP and Son.’ “That will be my signature. Then it will be complete.”

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