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Bringing Art to all serves local community

Residents and visitors alike enjoy classes and exhibits provided by OC Art League

Supporters of the Art League of Ocean City enjoyed a holiday gathering at the home of Melody Cedarstrom in Glen Riddle. From left Nancy Dofflemyer, Melody Cedarstrom, Crystal Collins, Barbara Patrick, Amy Ritgernel, Virginia Outten, John Sisson, Bob Rothermel

By Cindy Hoffman, Staff Writer

(Jan. 4, 2024) The Art League of Ocean City celebrated its 60th anniversary in 2023 and had its most successful year yet, both programmatically and financially, according to Executive Director Rina Thaler.

“Art is so much more than pictures on the wall, art is a service to the community,” she said. “We’ve gone way beyond our walls this year.”

The league reached out to more people than ever before in 2023. Among other things, the art league collaborated with Worcester Goes Purple on the “Art of Recovery” project to highlight people in recovery and help remove the stigma associated with addiction.

The project paired artists with individuals in recovery in Wicomico, Worcester, Somerset and Talbot counties. The resulting portraits of each community member include QR codes linked to videos of the subjects telling their stories of addiction and recovery.

The exhibit was hung at the National Institute of Drug Abuse in Baltimore. It will be featured at Salisbury University in January.

The art league has also been to Wor-Wic Community College and area high schools to raise awareness of addiction and mental health issues.

The league’s efforts to support people experiencing grief or trauma occur monthly with its Heart and Soul classes, which are free and provide an opportunity for those in recovery to create their own art so they could express themselves, share their experiences and help others.

In its efforts to expand its reach, the league hosted monthly classes with the Salvation Army, the Worcester County Developmental Center and homeschoolers. Summer camps provide opportunities for all with scholarships.

The league even joined in on the fun at OC Comic Con with a face painting booth featuring artwork from its Manga and Anime Youth Art Show.

“We are one of the few things that deal with the local community, little children to seniors and the tourist population,” Thaler said. “Art and tourism are so integrated, that’s what we have learned over the past decade.”

The art league will be rolling out its future plans in 2024. Its “new” building is now 20 years old. Thaler said the league will be focused on the outside of the building and looking at expansion options.

The art league is currently planning its 8th annual OC Film Festival on Saturday, March 9, with John Waters returning as the headliner. He will be showing his original film Hairspray and doing a comedic commentary on it.

Other new programs and events, theater performances, writers groups will top its agenda.