Telling the Story of Our Industrial Past

Carroll Street, Frederick, c. 1910. The Delaplaine’s mill building can be seen in the distance, on the right. Photo courtesy of Heritage Frederick.

The Delaplaine welcomes more than 85,000 Frederick County residents and visitors to the region each year to see amazing art, take classes and workshops, and attend programs. For many, their first steps through the door elicit the question: “What’s the history of this building?” The new Our Industrial Past exhibit now answers that question. “We have a magnificent space to showcase art and hold classes and events,” says Duane Doxzen, Director of Development & Communications. “It has a rich history all its own and we are happy to now be able to better tell its story.”

Our Industrial Past was unveiled at the Delaplaine’s annual Members’ Meeting on November 2. The exhibit is located in the building’s north stairwell. Leading visitors from the first to the third floor, it focuses on Frederick’s industrial history, especially the South Carroll Street area, as well as the history of the Delaplaine’s historic mill building and the arts locally. The Delaplaine is located one block from the Frederick Visitor Center and situated between it and historic sites such as the National Museum of Civil War Medicine and Heritage Frederick. “In addition to visitors who come specifically for the art, we also get many people who stop by wondering about the history of our building and the city,” Duane explains. “It gives us another opportunity to engage with our visitors. We’re happy to give them a taste of the history they can experience more deeply at other sites, and it makes sense that the history we share focuses on the two important ways this building has impacted Frederick: industry and art.”

The exhibit was researched and drafted by summer intern Lily Chalkley, a recent graduate of Frederick High School, who now attends Bryn Mawr College. “Lily did a wonderful job getting the project off the ground and establishing a blueprint for the exhibit,” says Duane. “The many hours she spent on research and writing are evident. We are very grateful for her excellent work.” Others also provided important assistance to the project. The Delaplaine extends its appreciation to Mary Mannix at the Frederick County Public Libraries’ Maryland Room and Kaitlyn Shorter at Heritage Frederick, which also provided historical images for the exhibit; and also to Brenda Murphy and Express Signs, which fabricated the exhibit panels.

The project was made possible in part by a grant from Visit Frederick. “Visit Frederick is proud to support this interesting and informative exhibit,” says Melissa Muntz, Marketing & Communications Manager at Visit Frederick. “Visitors continue to be interested in Frederick’s rich history and will certainly enjoy learning about the Delaplaine’s unique building. This project is a wonderful addition to the arts center’s many impressive offerings.” A 2018 donation from the late Colleen Remsberg made shortly before she passed away also helped to fund the exhibit. “Colleen was a champion of both the community’s arts and history, and we think she would be proud of this project,” states Duane. “We are very thankful for the support and encouragement we’ve received for the exhibit.”

The Our Industrial Past exhibit is open daily during the Delapaine’s regular hours of operation. For visitors who are unable or prefer not to use the stairs, there is a printed version of the exhibit available at the Front Desk. A rack card briefly describing the building’s history also is available. Admission to the Delaplaine is free.


Growing Up at the Delaplaine: A Conversation with Colleen Avila

Colleen Avila

We recently spoke with Colleen Avila, the 2019 Bettie Award Winner, about the impact that art, the Bettie Award program, and her involvement at the Delaplaine has had on her life.

Delaplaine Arts: Please tell us a little about yourself!

Colleen Avila: I grew up in Monrovia, MD, and graduated from Linganore High School. I’m currently attending Washington University in St. Louis, MO, where I’m in the Sam Fox School of Design and Visual Art. I’m planning on double majoring in Studio Art and Philosophy/Neuroscience/Psychology, which is a unique interdisciplinary major at WashU. Right now, I’m thinking about pursuing a career in medicine or public health.

DA: What part has art played in your life until now?

CA: Art has been a part of my life since I was a child. I’ve always been a messy person, and art was a way I could kind of channel that into something that was productive, fun, and useful! Now, as I think about what I want to do later in life, I see art as important in a greater way than just personal fulfillment. I think that it is an incredibly valuable way to influence people’s lives. I would love to be someone who can help people see art as more than just a cultural item with a tangible value, but as a way of keeping our bodies and minds healthy.

DA: Your artwork received the 2019 Bettie Award. How was your experience with the program?

CA: I feel so fortunate to have been recognized among my incredibly talented peers who also participated in the program. I’d been working on my painting, American Boy, for months, and I knew my end goal would be to present it for the Bettie Award program. Receiving the grand prize was so validating to my process and meant so much to me. I was so impressed with the diversity of thought and style that was shown in all the different pieces by the other artists chosen, and with the variety of mediums that were displayed. I truly can’t express how grateful I am to have a place like the Delaplaine that provides a platform for young artists.

DA: How else have you been involved at the Delaplaine?

CA: Over the summer I was an intern at the Delaplaine, tasked with finding local musicians for the Music in the Galleries program. I was successful at getting 12 different local musical artists of many different genres to contribute their music for the coming year. I was so glad to be able to contribute to the Delaplaine after all it has contributed to my childhood. Working with all the local artists and with the Delaplaine was such a rewarding experience, and I’m glad that I was able to get some experience in a field I’m interested in working in later on in life.

DA: How has the Delaplaine impacted you?

CA: As a young student and artist in Frederick County, I felt privileged to have the Delaplaine so accessible to me. I appreciate its deep commitment to young artists. I remember the first time I participated in the annual Frederick County Public Schools All- County Student Art Show at the Delaplaine during Youth Art Month, when I was in 5th grade. I was interviewed for my sculpture of a strawberry. I felt so proud to be treated like a “real” artist, and I love that so many other children across the county get to experience the same kind of joy that I felt.