Menhaden mural and plaque to be unveiled in Lewes June 7

May 20, 2019

The public is invited to attend the unveiling of the menhaden mural by Damon Pla and the plaque commemorating Otis Smith and the menhaden fishery in Lewes at 11:30 a.m., Friday, June 7.

The mural is painted on the bay side wall of the Beacon Motel which abuts Otis Smith Park, where the plaque commemorating Smith also will be unveiled.

Pla, a renowned painter and muralist, was engaged by Art in Bloom to design and paint the mural. The Lingo family, which owns the motel, graciously agreed to have the building used for the public art project. The painting depicts the art and science of trawling for menhaden during the time when fishing was the primary industry in Lewes.

The mural was made possible through a public-private partnership that includes Art in Bloom, a committee of Lewes in Bloom; the Lingo family; and Damon Pla. John Parker and Karen Parker, niece of Otis Smith, generously agreed to be major donors for both projects.

Others behind the scenes have also made the mural possible. Tony Boyd-Heron, Peninsula Gallery owner and Art in Bloom Steering Committee member, was instrumental in securing Pla as the artist and working with him to develop the image and message of the mural. Boyd-Heron also hosted a fundraiser for the mural at his gallery in February. He also secured a lift contributed by Iron Source in Georgetown to help Pla reach high areas to complete the painting.

Lee Ann Wilkinson of Lee Ann Wilkinson Group graciously made a donation toward the cost of the lift. Art in Bloom volunteer Cindy DeEmedio, Art in Bloom Steering Committee member Carolyn Marshall, and volunteer Carol Boyd-Heron were key to organizing people and events to get the mural underway.

The bronze plaque commemorating Otis Smith’s significant contribution to the menhaden fishing industry and its importance to Lewes was written and designed by Ed Zygmonski, Art in Bloom Steering Committee member. Zygmonski also helped secure approval for the plaque from Lewes Parks and Recreation Commission and Lewes City Council.

While attending the event, guests can purchase a giclée print of the mural art on paper or canvas at the nearby Peninsula Gallery. The archival paper print is a 16-by-20-inch image with a 2-inch white border printed using archival inks and mounted on foamcore selling for $150. The canvas print, selling for $395, is 24-by-30-inches and is ready for framing. Each print is individually signed by Pla. A certificate of authenticity and a 15 percent off coupon for custom framing at Peninsula Gallery will accompany each print. All proceeds go directly to Art in Bloom.

Otis Smith served as mayor of Lewes from 1950 to 1968. Among his many accomplishments, his Fish Products Company grew to a fleet of 25 ships and spotter planes, and employed more than 500 people. Under Smith, Lewes was one of the largest fishing ports in the country. In 1953 alone, over 390 million pounds of fish came into the port. Products included fish meal and oil used in the poultry and cosmetic industries, in addition to fertilizers important to the surrounding agricultural area.

Smith exercised much generosity toward the betterment of Lewes by building a public dock, running electric and water lines to Lewes Beach, supporting local churches, and serving as a member of the board of directors of Beebe Hospital from 1956-73. The Marine Laboratory at the University of Delaware College of Earth, Ocean and Environment is named after him. He was on the Delaware Civil Rights Advisory Committee and urged the desegregation of public accommodations. National recognition came in 1962 with a conservation award from the U.S. Department of the Interior.

Pla creates timeless murals, large paintings and limited-edition reproductions for his collectors. “Through ambience, composition, movement and light, creating art is an instrument for me to interpret my perception of our surroundings,” he said. “To quietly converse with the viewer through my work, provoking thought and meditation, is my passion.” Pla resides in Dagsboro with his wife Dana, and their daughters Maya and Zoey.

To contribute to the mural project, send a check made out to Art in Bloom, P.O. Box 61, Lewes, DE 19958.

Art in Bloom is a committee of Lewes in Bloom. Its mission is to enhance the beautification and cultural environment of Historic Lewes and the community at large by means of public art. Lewes in Bloom and Art in Bloom work together to enhance the natural beauty of Lewes – a community that values art and culture. Lewes in Bloom is a component fund of the Greater Lewes Foundation. 

Subscribe to the Daily Newsletter