Dream Streets Exhibit Celebrates 1970-80 Art

Delaware Art Museum hosts festival Sept. 18

Major cultural events like the Civil Rights movement and the Vietnam War had a profound impact on America in the 1960s and ‘70s. During that time, many area poets and writers started meeting in living rooms and cafés to discuss these events and share their work.

Writers Lew Bennett and John Hickey soon collaborated to curate a single zine featuring many of these pieces, eventually bringing it to a newspaper printer in southern New Jersey.

By 1977, they published Dreamstreets #1, a collection of poetry, prose and visual art. Derived from Hickey’s experience as a cab driver in Philadelphia, the name describes the dream-like aesthetic of the streets early in the morning. The two diligently distributed the zine, and spread the word about the budding counterculture in Wilmington.

Since then, Dream Streets has grown remarkably, holding public poetry readings and publishing hundreds of works from area artists. The same cultural foundations put in place by the Dream Streets community continue to support the visual and performing arts within the city today. Organizations such as the Delaware Center for Contemporary Arts, the Delaware Humanities Forum and the Delaware Theatre Company were founded during this period, as well as commercial galleries and city-supported arts initiatives.

In June, the Delaware Art Museum began featuring a new exhibit entitled “Dream Streets: Art in Wilmington 1970-1990.” Running until Sunday, Sept. 27, the exhibit showcases craft and design, drawing, painting, performance art, photography and sculpture. The exhibit is paired with the release of Dreamstreets #51, a new issue bringing together former and recent contributors’ works.

On Friday, Sept. 18, the final days of the exhibit will be celebrated with an outdoor festival at the museum starting at 6 p.m. There will be hip-hop and breakdancing performances by Wilmington artists and musicians, as well as an eclectic set from DJ Scarfo and live painting demonstrations by artist Terrance Vann. Food will be provided by local food trucks, complemented by delicious libations. General admission is $5, but free for members.

Come on out and dance, socialize and celebrate a local legacy and thriving arts community.