Seaford artists' works on display Artwork and lighthouses featured at Bridgeville Library

By Lynn R. Parks

Ten years ago, Karen and Joseph Owens had not met each other. Both were still pursuing hobbies that they had started as children: Joe was building ship's models and Karen was drawing with charcoal.

"I kept telling myself that I had to try watercolors," Karen says. "But everybody told me that painting with watercolors is so hard. I was scared to death to try it."

The two met and were married in 2002. And that union set the Seaford couple on paths of artistic exploration that, nine years later, have led to a display of their work at the Bridgeville Public Library.

Karen, 57, encouraged by her husband to branch out, uses rich colors to paint lighthouses and other buildings. And Joe, 65, sparked by his wife's interest in their lines and history, creates miniature versions of lighthouses, existing as well as those that have washed into the sea.

"If we hadn't met, he wouldn't be doing lighthouses and I wouldn't be painting," Karen says.

The Owens display is the second in a series of displays of works by members of the Nanticoke Art League, sponsored by the Friends of the Bridgeville Library. Ruth Skala, president of the friends group, has said that the shows are designed to attract more people to the library as well as to expand cultural offerings in the area.

They also help out the friends group, she said: If the artist sells a work that is on exhibit in a show, the friends receive a small percentage of the sale price.

Since the completion of the construction of the new library in August 2009, the friends have been concentrating their efforts on specific projects. Recently, the group bought picture hanging devices for the library's meeting room. In November, members helped pay for a new flag and flagpole for the library's front yard.

The display, which follows on the heels of an exhibit of paintings by Seaford artist Tammy Kearney, features about a dozen of Karen's paintings. Most are of lighthouses. But a couple are of wooden Adirondack chairs sitting by bodies of water; "I love painting straight lines," Karen says. And one is of the Seaford landmark the Ross Mansion.

"I had always wanted to paint the mansion, but found it intimidating because of all its fancy architecture," she says. "Finally, I did it."

The display also includes about a dozen miniature lighthouses crafted by Joe. They are built to a scale of 1/8 inch to the foot and are as exact as Joe can make them.

Several models feature tiny lifeboats hanging from railings. The model of the brick Cedar Point Light shows a lighthouse in decay, with holes in its walls and roof. The lighthouse at Cedar Point, at the mouth of the Patuxent River, was built in 1896 and was abandoned in 1928. It was demolished 100 years after its construction, in 1996.

Karen says that she and Joe are excited to have their art on display in the library. "So many people don't realize that there's art to see in Western Sussex County, and so many local artists are afraid to display their works," she adds. "We are so happy that we are getting to participate. The library has given us a great opportunity."

For your information A show featuring works by Seaford-area artists Karen and Joseph Owens will be on display in the Bridgeville Public Library through March 18. The library, at 600 S. Cannon St., is open Monday through Thursday, 10 a.m. to 7 p.m., and Friday and Saturday, 11 a.m. to 6 p.m. Admission to the exhibit is free. For details, call the library, 337-3401.

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