Artist Aurelio Grisanty, (Rail) looking to decorate his new apartment in Rehoboth a few years ago, went searching for unique images of the coastal town. Specifically, he envisioned vintage travel posters with beach scenes evoking whimsical nostalgia. He couldn't find anything like these images, so he decided to create them himself.
Grisanty started by photographing the places that charmed his imagination. The first one was the beach of Rehoboth with a kite (the artist's new pastime) flying over it. The second was Silver Lake and its constant show of light and color.
The results ended up better than even Grisanty had expected, and after printing proofs for himself, he decided to produce them for sale. A few weeks later the first two editions of posters were successfully sold in most local galleries. Their popularity encouraged Grisanty to follow with other unique images of Bethany Beach, Lewes, Dewey Beach, and Cape May.
A year later, Blue Room Gallery owner Clare Conley - judging from positive customer feedback and high sales - persuaded the artist to expand his series.
The new business partners embarked on trips to North Carolina's Outer Banks and Kitty Hawk, Cape Hatteras, and The Pier - which cultivated more posters, more visibility, and more success. Today, with 68 posters and more in the making, Grisanty and Conley enthusiastically continue to bring Beach Town Posters to the East Coast.
Florida and New England beaches will soon be on the map for Beach Town Posters as well.
The Artist: Aurelio Grisanty
Born in the Dominican Republic in 1949 to a politically persecuted family, Aurelio Grisanty (Rail) understood from early age the freedom that art can give to an oppressed soul.
During his early teens, Grisanty took solace in his grandparents' garden. These long hours fueled his artistic nature. Later, he would write: "There I learned how green is shaded by red. How, without direct light, yellows become brown. How purple unveils its reds and blues in a transparency. And black does not exist. I learned that small things can make a big context and vice versa. I learned that the character of man is as complex as Nature."
In 1974, Grisanty graduated with a degree in Graphic Design and Fine Arts in Mexico City. By 1979 he had become a co-director in the design department of one of his country's premier advertising agencies. He also worked as a faculty director of graphic design in two universities, and won a series of awards for his work in stage and costume design, and for his independent artworks.
In 1979 he retired to pursue a career as a painter, and moved to Washington D.C. in 1984 to continue as a resident of the United States. In 1997 the U.S. government granted Grisanty citizenship as an Exceptional Individual of International Renown.
After 17 individual exhibits and 13 group shows around the world, he decided in 2004 to establish his studio in Rehoboth.
Rehoboth reminded Grisanty of his childhood years of vacation on the beach, which brought to mind the posters that adorned the walls of his old vacation home. Trying to recreate the ambiance of that house, he started designing his own beach posters: Rehoboth first, and later the towns in the area.
The seventh of seven children, Clare Conley was born and raised in Washington, D.C. Her education started at Blessed Sacrament in Chevy Chase and Georgetown Visitation. Clare studied art at the University of South Carolina, and on a more advanced level at the Universita de Lorenzo Medici in Florence, Italy, and College of the Redwoods in Mendocino, CA.
One of the more notable parts of Clare's non-formal education came when she worked for Neil Peart, the drummer for Rush. She was a steward and deck hand on his yacht, Orianda, an 85-ft. all-wood schooner built for the King of Denmark in 1934 and moored in West End, Tortolla.
Clare moved back to the East Coast from California, and opened the Blue Room Gallery in 1994. Through the years, the welcoming beach-themed art gallery and gift shop (named for a surfing term) has become one of Bethany Beach's coolest and best-known shops. She started Beach Town Posters in 2005 with artist Aurelio Grisanty.
And she rocks!