The ribbon cutting that officially marked Jerry’s Artarama as open in Newark was more of a celebration of the arts and artists in the community.
“We’re excited. Newark is the greatest,” Dave Bart, store manager, told the crowd gathered outside the storefront Saturday. “We’re here for you guys also.”
With 17 locations nationwide, Jerry’s Artarama specializes in fine art supplies and also has a custom framing department.
The store differentiates itself from other supply stores by its focus on art supplies, rather than crafting supplies, and its knowledgeable staff, company officials said.
The store moved from Wilmington to Newark’s Park N’ Shop over the summer and has made its presence known with a mural on its side wall that faces toward South Main Street.
“I’m so happy that Dave and Jerry’s Artarama has invested in our community,” Mayor Polly Sierer said after she helped cut the ribbon.
She jokingly added, “It’s not another restaurant.”
The opening included art demonstrations from local artists.
Stephen Burke, of Newark, was seated outside the store with his portable easel. He was blocking in a small painting of a snowy mountain side, using a photograph he had taken on a trip to Canada as reference.
“I’m a customer at Jerry’s and I was invited to come down and paint today,” he said.
Burke, a decorated veteran who served in Vietnam from 1970 to 1971, has been painting since 1997.
“When the Delaware Veterans Home was dedicated, I contributed a painting and was invited to present it to Gov. Minner at the grand opening,” he said. “Last year, I painted five World War II scenes that I donated it to Fort Miles Battery 519.”
In the space next to Jerry’s storefront, Annie Strack, an artist from Kennett Square, Pa., was demonstrating Chartpak water colors and Higgins ink, and Dana Koeppel was letting shoppers “get dirty” with some gouache pouring art – all products available at the art store.
Michelle Rumble and her sister Yvonne Tetrault were displaying artwork by their parents, Bonnie and Harrison von Duyke.
Rumble described their art as “very beautiful” – noting that the Newark-natives had some art that residents might recognize. They displayed one piece depicting the University of Delaware’s Memorial Hall, when it was used as a library.
Beside them, Alexi Natchev, a professor at Delaware College of Art and Design, displayed children’s books that featured his illustrations.
Sierer noted the store’s commitment to the community.
“That’s the type of business we want in Newark, where they’re really going to be a fabric of what we have here in Newark,” she said, adding that it is her goal to see more murals in Newark, too.
“I think it’s going to be a tremendous asset to our community,” she continued.