For decades, Ocean Gallery owner Joe Kroart has been a tireless, and often eccentric, promoter of the arts in Rehoboth Beach and Ocean City, Md. Now, a new documentary puts his eccentricities on full display.
Called “Joe Kroart’s World Center,” the documentary tells Kroart’s Ocean Gallery story, from how he sold paintings on the porch of an Ocean City hotel to how he built his Ocean City gallery with recycled materials from that old hotel after it was sold and set to be demolished. He talks about turning old cars into moveable works of art and then sinking one of those cars in the name of visual art.
“Art is life and it’s entertainment,” says Kroart in the documentary. “People want to be entertained.”
In an interview June 25, Kroart said from the beginning, the idea of his over-the-top gallery has been to present fine art as entertainment. Now, he said, the plan is to get into the entertainment industry. The documentary is the first in a line of entertainment adventures he has coming, he said, adding there’s a full-length motion picture in the works.
“All it takes is the first movie to get the ball rolling,” said Kroart. “I’m very determined to do this adventure.”
The Ocean Gallery in Rehoboth Beach, located on the ocean block of Wilmington Avenue, doesn’t have the iconic Boardwalk structure, but there’s no denying Kroart has used his stylistic sensibilities to decorate the store. The gallery begins on a street-facing porch and meanders its way to art-filled sheds in the back.
“I’ve always loved Rehoboth,” said Kroart. “I’ve outlasted everybody.”
Due to COVID-19 restrictions, the Ocean Gallery location in Rehoboth is not actually open right now; the Ocean City gallery is open by appointment only.
Kroart said he wishes he could open the Rehoboth location, but he also knows it’s the best thing for the health of his customers. He said he’s planning a special opening for later in the season.
“Doing the right thing is never the easiest thing. It was a difficult decision to make, but it was also the right decision,” said Kroart.
“Joe Kroart’s World Center” is 53 minutes long and available to watch on Amazon Prime.