The Holly Branch of the National League of American Pen Women is sponsoring a juried art show later this month. Branch President Joyce Hammond Lewis explains the purpose of the organization, its role in the community and how art fares in central and southern Delaware.

Female artists in both Kent and Sussex counties have access to a resource they may not be familiar with. The National League of American Pen Women is a professional organization for women artists, composers and writers, featuring two chapter organizations within the state.

Joyce Hammond Lewis, president of the Holly Branch, which dedicates itself to artistic women in central and southern Delaware, took a few minutes to talk about the organization, its role in the community and how art fares in central and southern Delaware.

Q So, what is the National League of American Pen Women?

A It started in 1897 and the headquarters is in Washington, D.C. There are branches throughout the United States, with about 55,000 women involved with the organization nationally. There are two branches in Delaware. We are the Holly Branch and we represent Kent and Sussex County. There is one other branch in Delaware, too. It's called the Diamond State Branch and it's in Wilmington. We promote art, music and creative writing at a professional level. And, as of this year, the bylaws have been changed so that we can support students of all skill levels. We meet together both for socializing but also for encouragement to each other. And, as a supportive mechanism so that we can hold shows and encourage more creative work in the Delaware and Delmarva area. We want to keep fine art alive here.

Q Where do you think Kent and Sussex counties stand in terms of art production?

A Well, I believe that Kent and Sussex have great potential. It seems like Sussex County is a little more heavy into the art because of the work happening down in Rehoboth and the beach area. But, Dover has been consistent throughout the years, too. And, the market seems to be consistent, too, despite the economy. Or, at least, when the sales aren't there, the interest always is.

Q So, you see the community supporting the artistic endeavors of artists here, then?

A Yes. And, more so than ever this year, I believe. The economy has been struggling but the passion and the interest are there to enjoy the creativity of the fine arts. So, I believe the stabilization of the interest holds strong even if they're not in a financial position to purchase art. But, people still come out and support it with a physical presence. Like, the opening reception for our upcoming show is Dec. 2 and we expect to see a good turnout. And, that's because with each show we've done, there has been a great public turnout even if the sales are slow. People here always seem willing to come out and, at least, show a physical support for art.

Q You mentioned that the Holly Branch promotes professionals. Does that mean that you have to be working exclusively as an artist to be a member?

A No. The requirements of the bylaws are that you are entered into three juried shows and that you sell work. So, it's not that you have to have a career as such. It's just that you have to have sold your work. But, while our membership does consist solely of women, we're not just a women's group anymore. The upcoming show will have the work of male artists. And, now, we're also strongly supportive of the artist in general instead of just female artists. Mainly, what I want artists to know is that the Holly Branch supports fine art, creative writing and music at a creative level. We will do everything in our power to provide fine art shows and community activities that will encourage submissions from people who are not members yet or who are male. We're just trying to support anyone who is a creative person.

Q How can artists join?

A Just contact me directly at


The regional branch of the National League of American Pen Women is looking for more than a few women (and men) for its upcoming juried art show. The theme, "It's a Wonderful Life," should feature work with of an agricultural nature: rural settings, farm markets, animals, or any subject therein.

There are three categories for this show: two-dimensional, three-dimensional and literary work. Each category is allowed up to four submissions.

Two-dimensional artists may use acrylic, crayon, mixed media and collage, oil, pastel, pencils, pen and ink, photography and watercolor. The work must be framed and ready to hang. Gallery wrapped canvas with painted sides will also be accepted, though, provided they are also ready to hang.

Three-dimensional artists may use wood, basketry, ceramics, glass, metal, textiles, paper or floral scenes. These pieces should be no bigger than 15 inches by 15 inches.

Literary work may be entered on letter or legal size paper. It must also be matted or framed, wired and ready for hanging. Writers may create poetry, prose or verse or short stories. Excerpts from poetry, novels, plays, essays, journals, chapbooks, published or unpublished will also be accepted.

There is a registration fee of $20 for members, $25 for non-members. Fees are expected when the artwork is delivered. Cash or checks will be accepted.

Artwork is expected to be delivered to the Delaware Agricultural Museum and Village between 10 a.m. through 2:30 p.m., Tuesday, Nov. 27. No late entries will be accepted and each piece should have the artist's name, the title of the piece, the medium and the price attached to the back or base. Arists may pick up their work between 12 p.m. and 2:30 p.m., Wednesday, Jan. 23.