SEDAST celebrating 17 years with renowned artists

This Friday, Saturday and Sunday, Nov. 25-27, some of the area’s most recognized artists and craftspersons will show their thanks and appreciation by opening the doors to their homes and studios in the 17th Annual SouthEastern Delaware Artists Studio Tour (SEDAST), a time-honored tradition that combines an appreciation of the arts with fundraising efforts towards local youth.

Coastal Point

With work from painters and sculptors to woodworkers and glassblowers, a wide range of media will once again be represented as the free tour runs from 10 a.m. until 4 p.m. on Friday, Nov. 25, and Saturday, Nov. 26, and half of the artists continue through the holiday weekend, keeping doors open from noon until 4 p.m. on Sunday, Nov. 27.

“It’s really been a great event,” said Justin Cavagnaro, who introduced his glass workings to the tour nine years ago. “A lot of the artists on the tour have had works in progress, and we always try to feature something new every year. The tour gives visitors an opportunity – not only to see great art up close – but it gives them that connection with those who created it. You can show a piece and a work in progress, rather than try to verbally describe how you created it. Guests really get that stronger impact from the artists.”

This year will see 13 returning artists, including several who have been a part of the tour since its inaugural year. Among the familiar faces who have spent years on the tour are water media and collage artist Tara Funk Grim; watercolor, oil, mural painter and photographer Jennifer E. Carter; pastel and oil painter Laura Hickman; oil, pastel and pen-and-ink artist Ellen H. Rice; acrylic painter and muralist Damon Pla; watercolor, oil, ink and colored pencil artist Barbara Deitrick; watercolorist Anne Hanna; blacksmith Keith Toms; glass artist Justin Cavagnaro; ceramic and jewelry artist Kim Doughty-Cavagnaro; and woodturner Tom Frey.

Recent additions to the tour over the past several years include whimsical acrylic painter and muralist John Donato and jeweler Shelby Foxwell, both of whom will return again this year.

As always, fresh faces help to fill out the artist lineup, and this year’s SEDAST tour is no exception. Watercolor, acrylic and mixed media artist Cheryl Wisbrock; oil, mixed media and watercolorist Jeanne Mueller; and watercolorist and digital photographer Jeffrey Todd Moore will round out this year’s SEDAST as newcomers.

Since its start in 1995, tens of thousands of dollars have been raised during SEDAST through donations and the function’s general fund. By 2000, SEDAST had begun their “Art in the Hat” raffle, giving SEDAST attendants a chance to win exclusive, one-of-a-kind pieces, which has solicited more than $11,000 in ticket sales alone. Each artist contributes a piece from their collection to be raffled off, with tickets available at selected stops along the tour.

All the proceeds and benefits from donations and raffle ticket sales are turned around each year and presented to art programs in local schools. Frankford Elementary School (now John M. Clayton Elementary) and Indian River and Sussex Central high schools have all received donations in past years from the SEDAST artists.

“It’s always nice to sculpt new things,” said Cavagnaro, “but to show somebody that process is so much more in depth. The stronger the piece you put into the Art in the Hat raffle, the more tickets you’ll be able to sell, too. In the long run, that’s what this event is here to do – raise money for the art programs in the area. Because of that, we all try to put our best foot forward, so to speak, with the pieces that go into the raffle.”

SEDAST will run from 10 a.m. until 4 p.m. on Friday, Nov. 25, and Saturday, Nov. 26, with stops at each of the 16 artists’ studios. On Sunday, Nov. 27, the studios of Tara Funk Grim, Cheryl Wisbrock, Ellen H. Rice, John Donato, Barbara Deitrick, Keith Toms, Jeffrey Todd Moore and Anne Hanna will also be available for tourgoers to visit, from noon until 4 p.m.

For more information about SEDAST, including a map for the self-guided tour, visit