Driving through the beautiful village of Marshallton, I noticed the first floor doors of the recently restored historic red brick schoolhouse were open and a gentleman had just ducked inside. A fresh new sign indicated the building now housed an art gallery called “The Merchant of Menace.” The sign featured a whimsical drawing of some character you’d expect to see if Disney remade a Dickens story.

As I stepped inside, I found a large room filled with intriguing colorful sculptures of all shapes and sizes. Giant forged metal flowers stuck out of a bed of sand. Coat hooks were adorned with blue cows, green fish and red pigs. A motorcycle, engineered from old tractor parts, sat on a shelf. One of a kind hutches and bookcases built from barn wood and painted primary colors jutted out from the walls. Creative artists have transformed salvaged every day items into beautiful works of art.

Michael Arizin is the man behind this “Re-Imaginer’s Gallery,” and he has “re-imagined” himself, leaving the world of finance after thirty years to open this unique space and work with the artists he loves. He has been making final preparations to open this interesting gallery, and he agreed to answer a few questions about his new enterprise.

Dish: How would you describe your gallery to someone you meet?

Arizin: A warm and welcoming place, populated by eclectic pieces created by artists who see the possibilities. I hope the gallery will bring a smile to everyone’s face who comes to visit.

Dish: What sparked your interest in opening this type of gallery ?

Arizin: I have been collecting this type of art for a number of years.  I’ve really enjoy the art and getting to know and working with the artists.

Dish: It’s a great name. How did you come up with it?

Arizin: Obviously, its a play on words on Shakespeare’s “Merchant of Venice.”  Calling it a Re-Imaginer’s Gallery was purposefully obtuse.  I wanted people to be curious enough to come in and visit. Once they come in, they will understand what is meant by “Re-Imaginer’s Gallery.”

Dish: Can you tell us about how you source your art? It sounds as though there are artists from around the country?

Arizin: Most of the artists featured in the gallery are artists that I have collected for a long time and I have gotten to know some of them. Most of artists are local and the rest are from all over the country.

Dish: Are you a sculptor or an artist yourself?

Arizin: Heck no, I can’t draw of a straight line with a ruler.  But I have great respect and appreciation for people with vision and imagination.

Dish: What’s your favorite piece in the gallery? Can you divulge?

Arizin: I find magic and wonderment in all of them.

Dish: When was your official “opening day”?

Arizin: The final building inspection was March 28, and the gallery opened that weekend.

Learn more about the Merchant of Menace at themerchantofmenace.wordpress.com.

Photographs credited to Nina Lea Photography.