We sit down for a conversation with local artist Dale Mellor, who is the owner and visionary behind River Valley Studios.
Please introduce yourself
My name is Dale Mellor and I’m a visual artist who makes Installation Art. I live and make my art in Kenosha.
What is Installation Art?
In 2019 I made giant daisies and displayed them on the NorthPier Lighthouse in Kenosha. Because this art was designed for a specific location it’s an example of Installation Art! My goal was to decorate the lighthouse and make something surprising and smile-making for the people of Kenosha.
Why do you make art, what inspires you?
Communication is something I value and visual art is a way to connect with people. I aim to make art that gives you a great feeling, tells you something, or invites you to be part of it. If you get something from my art then we have communicated.
What memorable responses have you had to your work?
To have been repeatedly thanked for the Daisy Art Installation is a response that has most surprised, and humbled me. People felt good about it, appreciated the meaning behind the memorial flowers and felt that it was good publicity for Kenosha.
Another time at the lighthouse, I met a lady who had come to mourn the loss of a loved one. She came because of the water, but to this specific spot because of the art (murals) on the Lighthouse. That the art drew her here, and helped her mourn has inspired me to continue making art.
Please tell us about your art studio
I have a small studio at home that’s crammed with art materials, tools and work in progress. When I needed more space to build giant daisies, a local business owner volunteered their building for me to use, which was a great help.
Although I work by myself I’m assisted by a studio-cat who’s my Purr Manager and paint-water quality control inspector. Her name is Bean, and you can see her on my Instagram @artistdale
The last year has been rough to say the least, but you had a project to help inspire the community to stand strong. Can you tell our readers about this fantastic art display?
At the beginning of the pandemic I think we were all quite shaken and feeling unnerved. I wanted to do something to help and encourage everyone.
The Daisy Art Installation sparked joy and a sense of community in 2019, just the thing we needed in 2020. So, I took my remaining daisy, added leaves inscribed with words of encouragement and put it on the lighthouse, April 2nd 2020.
The Southport Light Station, a private residence near the Harbor, and the Civil War Museum also put up daisies from 2019.
I set up a Facebook group called “Kenosha Strong Daisies” to share daisy crafts with the aim of having folks make & display their own daisies to encourage their neighbors.
Due to high winds, a second Daisy – the Daisy of Resilience – replaced the first on April 20th.
Can you tell us about your time as board President of Lemon Street Art Gallery & ArtSpace?
Serving as LSGA Board President has been an honor. I was elected at the start of the global pandemic and faced more challenges and change than I could have ever imagined.
Together with the Board of Directors, Artist Members and volunteers, we faced the difficulties of 2020 head on, with tenacity, to ensure that Lemon Street Gallery is here to provide its unique service to Kenosha for the next 20 years.
This experience has shown me the value of community, the necessity of strong leadership and the worth of artists. Through the painting of the boarded storefronts in Kenosha in 2020 I’ve witnessed the power Art has to draw a community together and enrich our lives .I am motivated to work harder, smarter and to invest more into the community Kenosha.
What do you love about the art community in Kenosha?
I love that the arts community in Kenosha is so varied. I love that the different types of art hang out together and help each other. I think it’s worth a Arts List: Visual Arts – artists, artist studios and galleries, art market and fairs, public art, art classes; Performing Arts – live music venues, classical & modern performances, education for both; theater and comedy; dance performance and education – classical, modern, folk; Professional education for acting; Media Arts – professional audio and film recording and production, television and radio; Written Arts – creative writing, poetry, screenwriting….this isn’t the end of the list.
Where can we see more of your art? What future plans for art do you have?
Before painting murals and creating installation art, I worked making stained-glass windows. Locally, ‘Mary and the Baby Jesus’ hangs in St Matthew’s Guild Hall; the window made for Public Craft Brewing will soon be back in their new building on 58th St; ‘The Elements of Art’, which is a stained-glass installation spanning 17 feet, is inside Salem Grade School. More can be seen on my websitewww.RiverValleyStudios.net
Other art created locally has mostly been temporary: murals and several Art Installations at the North Pier Lighthouse, of which the Gold Ring is still in place.
Future projects in mind are to create another art installation at the North Pier Lighthouse and a sculpture for the Harbor Park Sculpture Walk. I am interested to discuss public art projects, such as murals and temporary art installations with individuals and Kenosha area organizations and businesses. I can be contacted through my website www.rivervalleystudios.net or Instagram @ArtistDale
Q&A by Donny Stancato
Pictures supplied by Dale Mellor
(This Q&A first appeared in the 4/22/21 issue of the Smart Reader)