Bella Luna owner Janice Elder still had paint on her hands when she opened her 2013 art show with jewelry designer and former employee Carly Thurman at her Rehoboth Avenue store.
Elder's paintings lined the walls, the bubbly flowed, and Thurman's jewelry was on display throughout the store. The Friday night art show drew dozens into the little store for a festive kickoff to President's Day weekend.
Lewes resident Joyce Houston said she came out with another friend to show support for Elder, whom they knew through other activities. As long as they were in Rehoboth, the pair said, they managed to squeeze in some shopping.
"We both bought a painting and a necklace, and we love Janice," Houston said. "She's great!"
A classically trained visual artist, Elder said her art studio is close to her store, making for an easy retreat and more time to paint, even in the crush of summer. There is one problem with this system, however: Elder said when she brings new paintings to her store in the summer, they are usually sold within days.
With that kind of turnover, building an inventory of paintings is easier said than done, she said.
Over the years, Elder said she has hired artists to work in her stores. Typically, the owner said, she likes to collaborate with a member of her staff for a show at the store just before she stocks up for the summer season.
"I like to support artists and students. We got a lot of work done before the art show so now I have a lot of paintings," Elder said, smiling. "Almost every year before merchandise comes in, I do employee art shows."
Although she worked for Elder and her husband at their retail stores in Rehoboth Beach while she was in high school and college, Thurman said, this was her first employee art show at Bella Luna. The 2005 Cape High graduate said working for Elder influenced the artist she has become even after she left the Cape Region.
"Their travels just kind of influenced my style," Thurman said. "Janice pretty much watched me grow up by working for her so long. She's kind of like a mentor and a muse to me."