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Delaware artists open their studios November 25-26 for a unique shopping experience

Written By: Robbie Tarpley Raffish

Art lovers on the Shore have a unique opportunity to turn the Black Friday weekend into something brighter, featuring an art-filled, one-of-a-kind experience, when the Southeastern Delaware Artist Studio Tour (SEDAST) hosts its 22nd annual presentation.

According to Jeanne Mueller, an oil painter who is the SEDAST PR person this year, the event was established in 1995, when a group of seven artists based in the Delaware coastal communities brainstormed ways to promote their art during the off-season. The idea — to bring people into the artists’ studios, see them work and make their art more readily available as holiday gifts — has become a favorite of art aficionados on and off the Shore.

“This is one of the oldest, continuously held, studio tours in the region,” said Mueller. “Its success is based on several things. From a shopping perspective, these are one-of-a-kind gifts; they are not mass-manufactured. But we also find that people have a real curiosity about how art is made and how artists work. Many people bring their children and grandchildren, because the tour allows for discussion that most never have a chance to participate in.” 

The tour is self-guided and free. Last year, hundreds of people attended, and most visited every studio. While some cover all the locations in one day, many split the event into two days, visiting half each day and then enjoying a leisurely lunch or dinner. 

In 2000, the artists added another component to the weekend: the “Art in the Hat” raffle. Each participating artist contributes a work to the raffle. Tickets ($5 each/5 for $20) are sold at the studios, and people can buy them before and during the event. The proceeds, more than $53,000 to date, are donated to the Indian River School District, in support of art-education programs. 

“The art teachers in the schools apply to receive the proceeds by requesting money for a specific art project or program,” explained Mueller.  “The artists get together on Saturday night, after the last guests have left the tour, to pull the winning tickets from ‘the hat.’ One of the most exciting moments of the weekend is when they call the winners. Their $5 ticket not only benefits the school system; it can sometimes provide the thrill of a lifetime for an art lover who has won a unique and original piece of artwork for their home.” 

For artists’ bios and a self-guided map, visit

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