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Enlighten Me: The Delaware Century Farm Portraits Project

Mark Reeve/Delaware Century Farm Portraits
The Hon. Richard Cooch poses at Cooch’s Bridge, the only Revolutionary War battle site in Delaware.";

 The history of some of Delaware’s oldest agricultural farms and families are being preserved in paintings.


The Delaware Century Farm Portraits Projects will feature oil paintings of the First State’s oldest Century farms, agricultural properties that have been owned by the same family and farmed continuously for more than 100 years.Artist Mark Reeve says the endeavor is not unlike one carried out in the late 1800’s when railroads tried to entice customers by sending artists across the country to document America.

“You had marvelous landscape painters like Thomas Moran and Frederic Church that just brought back these glorious visions of the wild,” he says. “You just needed to get people emotionally involved in getting out there and expanding. So landscape has never been just about pretty pictures, its also about communicating to the country about what’s important.”


Through interviews with these farming families, Reeve will tell the stories of how Delawareans sustained and advanced their agricultural heritage through generations.


Credit Mark Reeve/Delaware Century Farm Portraits
Former director of the Delaware Farm Bureau, Wally Caulk at the Exchange Tract in Kent County.

The Milford artist is creating approximately 10 paintings for the project and says rendering these farms in oil paintings allows him to go beyond the limitations of a camera lens.


“That’s a big challenge with any artist,’ he notes. “You’re not just recording photo realistically something, you’re actually trying to reinterpret, to inspire, to communicate and historically landscape has been a great communication device.”


The Delaware Century Farm Portraits Project will be on view at the Delaware Agricultural Museum and Village in Dover beginning May 1.



This piece is made possible, in part, by a grant from the Delaware Division of the Arts, a state agency dedicated to nurturing and supporting the arts in Delaware, in partnership with the National Endowment for the Arts.