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Arts Playlist: 'Tom Wilson: Super-Realist/Surrealist' at the Biggs Museum

Tom Wilson Pink Car.jpg
Biggs Museum of American Art
Tom Wilson's pink Dodge "Inez"

The Biggs Museum of American Art in Dover opened a new exhibit this month.

Tom Wilson: Super Realist/Surrealist focuses on the work of the late Lewes artist and in this week’s Arts Playlist, Biggs’ curator Laura Fravel joins Delaware Public Media’s Kelli Steele to discuss the exhibit and Wilson’s life and legacy.

Delaware Public Media’s Kelli Steele highlights the Biggs Museum of American Art's new Tom Wilson exhibit with curator Laura Fravel

The Biggs Museum of American Art’s new exhibit highlights the work of a late Sussex County painter and photographer.

Tom Wilson: Super Realist/Surrealist features nearly 50 pieces from the Lewes artist.

Wilson initially worked as a fashion model in New York and Paris during the 1970’s.

But the Biggs’ new curator Laura Fravel says in 1981 he returned home to paint, working until his death in 1995 of complications from AIDS.

"While he was modeling in Paris and Milan, he was doing these surrealist images and dot paintings, which were a way to use extra paint on the palette, but also to launch into more portraits - and I think some of the more intricate portraits.”  

Biggs Museum of American Art
Biggs Museum of American Art curator Laura Fravel

Fravel says one of those portraits was “Wendell,” the very first person to ever cross-dress in Rehoboth Beach.

She notes there's also a painting called "Inez in Dover." Inez was a bright pink 1959 Dodge owned by Wilson.

"That surprised me a lot working on the show - at just how much he was a car nut," said Fravel. "When he was putting together the photo collages, I found a whole file of extra cars that he kept and clipped out so he could stick extra cars in the background.”  

Tom Wilson studied art at the Rhode Island School of Design.

Wilson also had a huge network of friends and supporters in Delaware. He served as Art Director at the Back Porch Café for many years where he founded strong ties to the beach community.

Inspired by the popularity of the Wilson exhibition, the Biggs has expanded weekend hours. The Biggs will be open Wednesday through Sunday from 10 a.m. to 4 p.m.

For more info on Tom Wilson, you can view this short documentary:

Delaware Public Media' s arts coverage is made possible, in part, by support 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.

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Kelli Steele has over 30 years of experience covering news in Delaware, Baltimore, Winchester, Virginia, Phoenix, Arizona and San Diego, California.