Ever since Karen and David Jayne opened Jayne’s Reliable in Dagsboro, they have been as intrigued by what their customers are interested in buying as their customers are intrigued by what is for sale.
Roy Comiskey, who is from Takoma Park, Md., and is a frequent visitor to the area, is one of those customers. Another is Matt Gotswols, who has a home in Fenwick Island. One makes intricate pictures as small as 4 by 4 inches. The other makes 12-foot-tall fantastical sculptures. Both use other peoples’ junk — some found at Jayne’s Reliable — to create their treasures.
“I’m a collector of old, interesting, weathered things,” said Comiskey. “I love wandering around all the different rooms and barns and outdoor areas at Jayne’s, and am always amazed by how quickly their stock turns over so there are always new things to see.”
“We had noticed Roy coming in on occasion to shop and always loved his choice of purchases,” said Karen Jayne. “We also noticed he would always take time to look at various old books and magazines we had on display.”
One day, Comiskey was convinced by his girlfriend to purchase a beautiful vintage armoire. It was almost too big for his vehicle to carry, but he had to have it. David Jayne, who has learned over the years how to fit the largest items into the most challenging spaces, solved their problem. The process took time and, as often happens with Karen and David, a lively conversation ensued.
That’s when Comiskey’s girlfriend said, “Roy, you should show them some of your stuff!”
His “stuff” turned out to be meticulously designed, hand-created works of mixed-media collages on board. Most of his pieces are small in size and minimalistic in composition. They have a central eye-catching object, reminiscent of the ‘40s forties or ‘50s — such as an exquisitely scissored bird or a face or a pin-up girl — immersed and lacquered in layers of discarded, time-worn ephemera. The ephemera include small cut-up paper pieces, including bits from letters, postcards, magazines, newspapers and stamps.
Comiskey is retired from a lengthy career as an award-winning art director. Although he is a multi-disciplined artist who studied at the Art Students League of New York, he said he has always been fascinated by the delicate interplay of image, type and color. Thus, now, it is the art form of collage where he focuses his creative energy.
“I take refuge from a world that is increasingly technology-driven and impersonal, by using traditional methods to restore a sense of balance to the chaos of daily life,” said Comiskey.
“We have shown the work of many artists here,” said Karen Jayne, “but we were immediately drawn to his uniquely captivating pieces of art. Somehow, he can visualize raw material and see it as something else. His pieces are both beautiful and fascinating, and we knew immediately we wanted him for one of our Meet the Artist events.”
The Meet the Artist event to introduce the area to Roy Comiskey is Saturday, Aug. 31, from 11 a.m. to 2 p.m. at Jayne’s Reliable.
Matt Gotwols was one of last year’s Meet the Artist celebrants. His talent was recognized when he was still in grade school, with an article in the Baltimore Sun newspaper.
“I started making wooden Santas before folk art became popular, and then bird houses actually paid my expenses through college” said Gotwols. “I opened a small business making recycled stuff — which was crazy, interesting fun for about 10 years, but it became clear I needed to get a real job!”
Gotwols’ “real job” is medical sales. Specifically, he sells medical staples and actually works in operating rooms to make sure the surgeon uses his product correctly.
“It killed me not being creative so, as a hobby, I turned our garage into a work area and decided to go big with aluminum! First, I made frames or shadowboxes from leftover door and window screens that I found at Jayne’s. By the way — my whole house is furnished and decorated with wonderful finds from there. Then I told my wife I was going to make an aluminum rocket. She told me I was out of my mind.”
Four months, later the 12-foot rocket was completed and is now visible for all to see, on the corner property of Jayne’s Reliable at Main Street and Route 26. After another four months, a really cool, amazingly accurate, revolving aluminum replica of Bethany Beach’s “totem pole” graces the entrance to the Jayne’s front porch. And, if you want to marvel at Gotwol’s version of “Chief Little Owl,” you can sit on a glider, fashioned from the front and rear bumpers of a 1967 Firebird. By now, you will know those bumpers also were discovered at Jayne’s Reliable.
“Both Matt’s and Roy’s work reminds me of what we do at Jayne’s Reliable,” said Karen Jayne. “Our whole mission is to reclaim, recreate and repurpose things. Their creativity comes full circle by giving new life to other peoples’ throwaways and bringing them back here for us to admire. It is so rewarding for David and me.”
“We are very excited that Roy will be joining us on Saturday,” said Jayne. “As well as bringing an array of his pictures for us to enjoy, he is also very willing to share with us about the process he uses. Both our DIY and art enthusiasts will just love him!”
The address for Jayne’s Reliable is 33034 Main Street, Dagsboro, and the phone number is (302) 927-0049. The Jayne’s Reliable Facebook page is a good place to find out about their other events and to be among the first to see their latest funky, fun finds.
By Christina Weaver
Special to the Coastal Point