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An Artist Gives Back

Featured Photo from An Artist Gives Back

Del Seaman has been a centerpiece of the local art community for 30 years. Now, he’s redoubling his efforts to make the entire community a better place.

Oviedo resident Del Seaman has a clear vision of what he wants to accomplish in 2020. For the 72-year-old clay artist and teacher, this year is all about paying it forward.

Del is the owner and co-founder of The Artistic Hand Gallery & Studio, which has been a fixture in the Oviedo community for three decades. He and his late wife, Barbara Walker-Seaman, opened The Artistic Hand in 1990 – where they also lived with their blended family of five children.

The gallery includes the work of 60 artists from Central Florida, Kentucky, Tennessee, and North Carolina, and the studio offers art classes for children, teens, and adults. The creative couple ran The Artistic Hand together until Barbara’s death in 2008. Ever since then, Del and his team of devoted instructors have worked tirelessly to continue the couple’s mission of putting art into the hearts of others. For Del, community outreach has become the best way to further that mission.

“After 30 years, we’re stepping it up a notch, because I want to reach more people,” says Del, who realizes that not everyone who is interested in art can commit to a multi-week class. “My goal would be to make art more accessible. I want to bring art to the community in a way that people can digest it in small bites, because everybody is so busy.”

Del and Kathryn Jory, The Artistic Hand’s manager, have come up with several creative ways to connect with more people. 

This spring, they plan to turn part of the gallery and studio property into an outdoor sculpture park, where they will offer free art-under-the-stars events with demos, live music, a raffle, and refreshments.

Another of their goals is for Del to visit local schools and give presentations about art, history, and the importance of creativity. Last year, Del talked to students at Lawton Elementary and Tuskawilla Middle schools and enjoyed the experiences so much that he wants to keep volunteering and inspiring youngsters.

He and Kathryn will also continue a partnership that has developed between The Artistic Hand and the LESA Gardens at Lawton Elementary School. For the past two years, pupils at Lawton and adult students and staff at The Artistic Hand have collaborated to create ceramic installations that adorn the main entrance to LESA (Lawton Environmental Study Area). 

And, Del already has an idea for a third project that will unify the first two pieces.

Jen Ferrell, coordinator of the LESA Gardens, says Del and his team have an “inspiring commitment to give back and spread the love of arts to the community. The students love seeing how much their contributions matter. These pieces are not only beautiful, they represent how much each individual can be a part of something bigger than themselves.”

Kathryn describes her boss as a down-to-earth man and a pillar of the community.

“He’s just a kindhearted, generous person,” Kathryn says. “People listen to him because Del listens to them. It’s an open dialogue.”

Del attributes his positive outlook on life to good role models, including his parents and maternal grandparents. His family tree is a fascinating one: he is a direct descendant of American Revolutionary War patriot Ethan Allen; his grandmother’s grandmother was Julia Ward Howe, who wrote “The Battle Hymn of the Republic;” and his grandfather worked for inventor Thomas Edison.

Del graduated from Florida State University in 1969, where he majored in history and art and minored in archaeology. He was a successful swim coach for more than a decade and taught art at public schools in Orange County. After he and Barbara met, they exhibited and sold their artwork at sidewalk shows, where both won many awards. They also co-taught clay classes at Seminole and Valencia community colleges and at Crealdé School of Art, and they produced pottery for the home furnishing market for years before focusing solely on The Artistic Hand.

“My life has been a magical adventure,” says Del. “To me, the most important thing is that I give back to the community that has given me so much, that embraced my wife and our five little kids. The community supported us and accepted us as artists and teachers. So, going forward is payback.”

The Artistic Hand Gallery & Art Studio will have an Earth Day-themed art show and sale, Saturday, April 25 from 10:00 a.m. to 4:00 p.m., featuring the work of its students and instructors. 353 North Central Avenue, Oviedo, 407-366-7882.ArtisticHandGalleryAndStudio.com

 

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